Susannah was a plain girl of little means. Both of her parents had died and the banker was after the house because of an unpaid mortgage. Being a mail order bride seemed her only hope. Her pastor's brother homesteading in the Dakota territory wanted a wife. She boarded the train in Detroit and headed for her new life...in a sod house.
When she met Jesse there was the awkwardness a marriage by mail would cause. But Jesse was a gentle and patient man, a Christian. He never forced Susannah to love him. He sweetly drew her to himself. But she has a secret. She is convinced that if Jesse really knew her he couldn't love her.
As she found herself falling in love with Jesse, she also experienced the harsh life in Dakota. She went a painful miscarriage, nearly dying from blood loss. And then the grasshoppers destroyed their crops.
Jesse makes the fateful decision to go into town and look for work. Susannah is left alone on the farm. How will she survive? What if Indians come? And then she finds she is pregnant. Will she manage to keep this baby?
When there has been no word from Jesse for months, other settlers tell her she should go back east. Is Jesse still alive? Can she make it through the winter without him?
Perhaps the change we see in Susannah is best described by her comments: “If it hadn't been for Jesse, no man would have looked at me twice. I don't mean just geography, bringing me out to empty Dakota. His love made me feel free to let other people know me. Because Jesse loves me, even though he knows me, I grew to believe in God's love for me.” (312)
I had to keep reminding myself this is Richmond's first novel. It was so good! Just the right amount of dialogue and description, humor and serious issues, struggle and overcoming, independence and relational comfort. Richmond has crafted a superb love story. It is also the rewarding story of a woman who struggles to find out who she really is.
The reading group guide at the end of the book would make this a good choice for discussion.
Catherine Richmond was focused on her career as an occupational therapist till a special song planted a story idea in her mind. That idea would ultimately become Spring for Susannah, her first novel. She a founder and moderator of Nebraska Novelist critique group and lives in Nebraska with her husband.
More about Catherine: www.catherinerichmond.com
I received a copy of this book from the Litfuse Publicity Group on behalf of the publisher for the purpose of this review.