I'm a big fan of Sandra Dallas' books. Three of her books are some of my favorites, The Persian Pickle Club, Tallgrass and Prayers for Sale. I wish I could say the same about her new book, The Bride's House. I know how personal the book is to her, since she used her own house as a model for the house in the story. But, none of the women in this book came to life for me, as the ones in previous books did.
The Bride's House is the story of three generations of women who love a house in Georgetown, Colorado. Seventeen-year-old Nealie Bent was a runaway from a drunk, abusive father when she ended up in the mining community of Georgetown in 1880. Fortunately, Mrs. Travers, a woman who owned a place for men to eat, hired her, or Nealie might have ended up working the streets. One of the miners, Charlie Dumas, courted her, but once Nealie saw engineer Will Spaulding, she only had eyes for him. But, things didn't go according to Nealie's plans, and she ended up moving into the new mansion she called the Bride's House, married to someone else.
Nealie's daughter, Pearl, never knew her mother, except for the stories her father told of his saintly wife, and the more realistic stories the housekeeper, Mrs. Travers told. But, Pearl's father doted on her, and did everything he could to keep her in his late wife's beloved Bride's House. He thwarted any would be suitors, and turned away the one man Pearl loved. He just didn't count on his daughter's will.
Each summer, Pearl's daughter returned to Georgetown. Susan loved her grandfather, and the house he refused to leave. And, since she had been a child, she loved a Georgetown boy. But, each summer she had to prove herself to the locals, and she never thought her love was returned.
"The old house had its secrets." In reality, the women of the Bride's House, along with Susan's grandfather, had secrets. They had secrets about love and men and children. Dallas' story is one of three generations of women fighting for, and, not always finding the love they expect. Unfortunately, The Bride's House lacks passion. The women seemed to accept the consequences of their fates. Yes, they all suffered, but none of them, not Nealie, or Pearl, or Susan, actually fought for their future at the time they should have. Someone else always stepped in to determine their fate. Perhaps that was the issue I had with the book. Each woman waited for someone else to make their decisions for them.
As I said, some of Sandra Dallas' books are memorable. I'll always remember Tallgrass and The Persian Pickle Club. They were powerful books with unusual characters. Unfortunately, The Bride's House lacks characters that will live in time. And, for someone who reads for characters, and appreciates Sandra Dallas' gift for creating unique women, The Bride's House doesn't stand up to previous books.
I have been a library manager/administrator for over 30 years, in Ohio, Florida, Arizona, and, now, Indiana. Winner of the 2011 Arizona Library Association Outstanding Library Service Award. I am a contributing Book Reviewer for Library Journal, Mystery Readers Journal, ReadertoReader.com and VibrantNation.com. Winner of the 2009 and 2010 Spinetingler Awards for Best Reviewer. First Fan Guest of Honor for Desert Sleuths Chapter of Sisters in Crime, Write Now! Conference.
It's an honor to be asked to review books, and I'm grateful to all the publishers, publicists, and authors who send me books. Thank you. Reviews will appear on my blog if I've had a chance to read, and finish, the book. If I do not finish a book, I won't review it, and I will not respond to emails asking when, or if, I'll be reviewing a book.
My reviews are only my opinion, and do not reflect the views of the Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library.
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My Oct. 19, 2009 blog provides full disclosure that I only receive review copies of books, with no other compensation. All review copies are marked as such. If there any any questions, please feel free to contact me.