By day, I'm a domestic violence prosecutor. By night, I read romance to restore my faith in love, relationships, and humanity in general.
I bought this as a Christmas gift, but when I got it home and re-read the back cover, I began to have doubts that it would be a good choice for anyone on my gift list. Mail-order bride develops an attraction to her new stepson? It sounded a little bit trite, even tawdry, honestly.
Thankfully, this book is neither. Evocative of Willa Cather's My Antonia, Solomon tells the story of Minna Losk in prose that is absolutely delicious. Minna flees the pogroms and poverty of late-19th century Russia, and journeys to the barren prairies of South Dakota to become the bride of the very devout, very Orthodox, homesteader Max. At 16, Minna is closer in age to her new stepsons, the eternally optimistic Jacob (15), and the sullen, hard-working Samuel (18), who is the only one in the family who knows anything about farming. Yes, Minna is more attracted to Samuel than to 40-year-old Max, but Solomon makes so much more of that dilemma than the book summary could suggest. The outcome of the story is unexpectedly complex and intriguing, but it almost doesn't matter: the appeal of this book is in the beautiful (sometimes painful) intimacy of the character development and in the poetry of its language.
I read it too quickly: if I ever find the time, I mean to read it again, slowly, taking the time to savor each gorgeously-phrased sentence.