Written by Anna Solomon
Published by Riverhead Books
Review by Meredith Allard
This is my favorite type of historical novel to read: a novel that introduces me to a time I wasn’t familiar with, a time I should know about. Because of my own Jewish heritage, or because of my fascination with the Pioneer era from my time in Boise, Idaho, I was drawn to this lyrical, poetic first novel by Anna Solomon.
Sixteen year old Minna Losk leaves Odessa–a difficult land of pogroms–to be a mail-order bride. Only she doesn’t find the American life she wanted. Her husband Max is older, stringent, and poor, and there are his two teenage sons, one of whom Minna finds herself attracted to. The work in South Dakota is hard, the land barren and nothing. Minna must come to terms with herself, her life, and her desires, if she will ever find peace.
America is a land of immigrants, and to understand the story of this country we should consider the lives of the people who left their homelands behind to begin here anew. There is a sparse, poetic flow to Solomon’s language which I liked, and as I read this story I could see myself in Minna’s place, in her life. What would I do? How would I face these challenges in the difficult, dangerous frontier that Minna must face? This story is a glimpse into the lives of the Jewish immigrants, the pioneers, and their struggles to create new lives for themselves. It is about hope in the face of adversity.
The Little Bride is a fine work of literary historical fiction. I’m looking forward to reading more from Anna Solomon.
Meredith Allard is the Executive Editor of The Copperfield Review. She is the author of Her Dear & Loving Husband (Copperfield Press, 2011). Visit Meredith online at www.meredithallard.com.