Thursday, June 9, 2011
Spring for Susannah
With no prospects for marriage and her parents recently deceased, Susannah Underhill agrees to go west to the Dakota territory to marry her minister's homesteading brother, Jesse. But Susannah is painfully shy, doesn't see herself as worthy of love from either a husband or from God, and lives in constant fear that Jesse is going to ship her back to Detroit.
In spite of her petite size and the fact that Susannah doesn't look like she could survive on the prairie, Jesse quickly discovers that his new wife is a greater blessing than he even hoped for. The years she spent as her father's veterinary assistant allow her to save Jesse's ox and twin calves and to help neighboring farmers with their animals.
But Susannah's feelings of unworthiness are deeply rooted, and she can't believe that Jesse's praise-or the tenderness and love he shows-could possibly last. The thawing of her heart seems almost as distant as Spring in the midst of the winter blanketing the Dakota prairie.
I have had some real winners lately. This was a beautiful love story. I could relate to Susannah more than I would like to admit. Her background has made her doubt her worth and the possibility that she could ever find real love. She has a lot of fears controlling her. As the book progresses you get to know what an intelligent and talented woman she truly is and we can appreciate her nearly as much as Jesse does.
Jesse. I don't know that I can totally capture him for you. It's almost like trying to put lightning in a bottle. He's kind and patient but he's also carefree and energetic. His enthusiasm for life and for their marriage catches Susannah totally off guard and she doesn't know how to trust him. I loved that he was a red-head - it fit his personality perfectly.
She also has a host of other characters. My favorites were their neighbors, Ivar and Marta Vold. They're Norwegian and good friends to the couple as they go through the ups and downs of life in the territory. Ivar has almost as big a sense of humor as he does honor. He loves how Jesse seems to have a verse for every situation. Marta is newer in the territory and doesn't learn English until after Susannah comes and helps her learn.
One of my favorite parts of the book was reading Jesse's short prayers that head each chapter. This is just the kind of thing that gives you insight into the character. The author does a great job handling tricky issues like the roles of women, prejudice against foreigners, overcoming your past, and what genuine faith looks like. She does it all without sounding preachy either. This doesn't read like a first book and I can't wait to read her next one. I want to thank Thomas Nelson for sending me a copy in exchange for my review.