10 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful
MSCOZY reviewed Hearts West : True Stories of Mail-Order Brides on the Frontier on
Helpful Score: 12
I really liked reading the stories behind the mail order brides. Some of the tales were about specific alliances and others were just general happenings. It kind of reminded me of the personals used today in search of companionship/love. There are some neat photos included and not all the stories end happily ever after, just like real life. If you like learning about the west in the late 1800s-early 1900s, I think you will enjoy this book. It is a quick read.
An interesting book but could have used more fleshing out. Most of the mini-bios of the women and men were very sketchy and I would have loved more photos. The book also borrowed quite a bit of information from a another title--Women of the West.
First Line: The promise of boundless acres of land in the West lured hundreds of men away from farms, businesses, and homes in the eastern states as tales of early explorers and fur trappers filtered back from the frontier.
When all those men wound up on the frontier working gold claims, building businesses, and starting farms and ranches, the one thing that was in very short supply was women. It wasn't long until weekly newspapers like the Matrimonial News began circulation in an attempt to match men and women in marital bliss.
The strength in Hearts West lies in the stories of the mail-order brides as they came west to start new lives with total strangers. Some lucky couples found their soul mates. Some found the exact opposite, as in the story of the unlucky young woman who discovered the man she'd come hundreds of miles to marry was one of the men who'd just robbed the stagecoach on which she was traveling.
I've loved reading this author's books in the past, but this one was a bit of a disappointment. There weren't enough actual stories of the mail-order brides and the men they married. There were way too many ads from the Matrimonial News-- to the point where they felt like filler instead of a glimpse into the precursor of online dating. Worst of all, the book needed much closer editing. One chapter had me grinding my teeth due to the nautical errors. (The type of ship referred to is a "scow" not a "scowl"; and a ship only has one "bow"-- not multiple "boughs".) Add those errors to the one in which the character was wearing a skirt that wasn't going to be designed for another sixty years, and I almost stopped reading the book.
However, it's a small book, and I would have missed some excellent history about the brave women who traveled hundreds and thousands of miles to make new lives for themselves.
I've always enjoyed stories of mail-order brides, so really enjoyed reading some true stories. Book includes lots of pictures with photos and actual ads. Not all ended in bliss, but some marriages lasted many years and the couples were happy together.
Chris Enss has made a career of highlighting various facets of women (and men) in the West (BEDSIDE BOOK OF BAD GIRLS: OUTLAW WOMEN OF THE MIDWEST; FRONTIER TEACHERS: STORIES OF HEROIC WOMEN OF THE OLD WEST; THE LADY WAS A GAMBLER: TRUE STORIES OF NOTORIOUS WOMEN OF THE OLD WEST, and HOW THE WEST WAS WORN: BUSTLES AND BUCKSKINS ON THE WILD FRONTIER).
These are just a few of the 27+ titles she has completed between the years of 2002 2012. In fact, three books were published in 2012 alone. Each book is between 120 and 160 pages.
Perhaps you understand where Im heading. HEARTS WEST and OBJECT MATRIMONY are a great deal alike. She clearly states that there were at least 2600 couples who married through the efforts of Matrimonial News and other publications, plus marriage brokers and so on.
Yet in the pages of both small volumes, there are 3 chapters of nearly identical information: the weekly Matrimonial News, the story of bride promoter Asa Mercer and The New Plan Company Catalog for matrimony.
So many pages are dedicated to the ads submitted by men and women that they crowded out more stories of the successful and terrible mail-order marriages. I feel that is unfortunate. However, Enss shares a number of facts that have passed into history.
The full page warning by Judge John H Arbuckle is priceless: He warns mail-order brides who try to seduce men into marrying them by using false hair, cosmetic paints, artificial bosoms, bolstered hips and padded limbs should be careful. The grooms have the backing of the law to end these marriages, if they so desire.
As far as writing style, this book is more interesting (than OBJECT MATRIMONY) because of the story-like quality of the vignettes. The photos, cartoons and broadside posters added much to the discussion.
Ive listed these 3 books by Enss because they seem very much the same topic.
Love Untamed Romances of the Old West (2002) 13 various romances in the West
Hearts West: True Stories of Mail-Order Brides on the Frontier (2005)
Object Matrimony: The Risky Business of Mail-Order Matchmaking on the Western Frontier (2012)
It was interesting to read positive and negative Mail-order Bride stories. To think that now people do similar things but through the internet. It all started with mail order brides. I got to learn a little more about what life was like back then. Definitely not easy, but neither is it today.
Although the stories are inhterestering, they are incomplete. Only a couple of the stories follow the woman's life after marriage. It was rather dry, and seemed to be a collection of stories published elswhere.