Wednesday, August 09, 2006

[Book Review] THE DIARY OF MATTIE SPENSER by Sandra Dallas

Fiction/Genre: Westerns; Historical Fiction

Barbara Wallace reviews THE DIARY OF MATTIE SPENSER by Sandra Dallas (St. Martin's Press, 1997):

Mattie is surprised when Luke Spenser returns to Iowa from his Colorado homestead and proposes to her. Everyone thought that the handsome and accomplished Luke was sweet on Persia and would end up marrying her. But this was not to be--Mattie wore her navy silk suit and the young couple married in a hurry and left for the west. On her departure, Mattie decided to keep a secret diary about her new life. The diary would be her "little friend" in the lonely days ahead without women friends or family. We follow the young couple as they get to know each other, build a sod house, meet their neighbors and form lifelong friendships with some of them, fight Indians, celebrate holidays, and suffer the births and deaths of children. This is a charming, gentle read with the relationship between Mattie and her husband at its heart. But is Mattie the only love in Luke's life?

Barbara Wallace, Randolph Branch Library

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In the comments to Maya's review of THE MARRIAGE SPELL, I admitted that "I am typically intrigued by romances and other novels in which the heroine is attractive but not conventionally beautiful. But, she must be intelligent, inventive, courageous and compassionate. Flaws, tragic or otherwise, are always welcome." I suspect that Mattie Spenser fits this bill.

Her surprise at Luke's proposal reminded me of your review of THE FALLEN and its humble central character, Robbie Brownlaw (I checked out this book based on your excellent review!) Do you find yourself drawn to characters who are heroic but who don't quite realize that they have it in them? I bet Mattie Spenser turned out to be quite the frontierswoman. Was there some confrontation were she had to summon the courage needed to fight a seeemingly overwhelming foe?
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