The backstory: After thoroughly enjoying The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott (my review), the first novel by Kelly O'Connor McNees, I was eager to read her latest work.
The basics: Shortly after the Civil War, Clara Bixby, whose husband ran off with another woman, reads about Destination, Nebraska in the newspaper, and she realizes it's the perfect business venture for her after she loses her job at a tavern in Manhattan City, New York. Clara writes to Destination's mayor and strikes a deal: she'll provide widows and single women willing to move to Destination to get married if the men will pay for their transport, plus a fee for her services.
My thoughts: In the past few years, I've realized how much I enjoy tales of the frontier life and homesteading. I enjoy the intrepid characters and their discoveries in these new, desolate lands. In Need of a Good Wife opens in New York, and I enjoyed getting to know the women and share their journey, both emotionally and geographically. The novel is narrated by three women, and I enjoyed the different perspective each woman brought to the story.
While I instantly connected with each of the three main characters, it took me longer to warm up to the men of Destination. O'Connor McNees took the time and effort to build an entire town of characters, and once I kept them all straight, I further appreciated the richness these characters brought to the story. The features of Destination were vivid, and I pictured the town as a sparse, dusty, small town filled with detail.
The verdict: In Need of a Good Wife is a gentle tale of homesteading in the post-Civil War. I breezed through its pages and enjoyed the large cast of characters of Destination, Nebraska. While O'Connor McNees introduces the harshness of a rural, farm life in the late 1800's, an aura of hope surrounds the novel, and ultimately, it's a tale of redemption and love.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Length: 399 pages
Publication date: October 2, 2012
Convinced? Treat yourself! Buy In Need of a Good Wife from an independent bookstore, the Book Depository or Amazon (Kindle version.)
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