Thursday, October 29, 2009

Hearts West: True Stories of Mail-Order Brides on the Frontier by Chris Enss

Hearts West: True Stories of Mail-Order Brides on the Frontier by Chris Enss
128 pages
Published by The Globe Pequot Press June 2005
Source: my mom bought it

I think I've mentioned this before--my parents are smart people. Both of them are always looking to expand their knowledge and are just as likely to pick up a work of non-fiction as a work of fiction. "Hearts West" is my mom's most recent read and she's been kind enough to send her review of this book.

If you need a change of pace from your regular reading, and if you are interested in learning just how strong women can be, I recommend HEARTS WEST--TRUE STORIES OF MAIL-ORDER BRIDES ON THE FRONTIER by Chris Enss (The Globe Pequot Press). The lure of gold in California and the lumber industry in Oregon and Washington had lured many men to the West. This, plus the Civil War casualties, left many women on the Eastern coast faced with the possibility of becoming spinsters. So when the papers became filled with ads such as "Wanted: A girl who will love, honest, true and not sour; a nice little cooing dove, and willing to work in flour" appeared in the papers, many young women responded. And many of the women also placed ads looking for a man. As the non-fiction book will show, not all of the matches were successful but many women left security to go to California and the Pacific area to help bring civility to the region. Men realized how much they need the woman's touch to provide gentility. The journey was not an easy one: either they traveled by stage across the country or they went by boat around the tip of South America. This was not for the "faint of heart:." But the West was settled and women provided the finishing touch. Some women landed in pleasant surroundings but often those who ended in Montana found life almost unbearably difficult. It is a very short book--just over 100 pages--but it will give you a respect for pioneer women and makes us realize how far we have come.

Reader Views has this to say about "Hearts West":
“Hearts West” provides a good mix of humor, disaster, sweetness, and sadness to give an overall picture of what our American ancestors went through, all for the sake of love and survival.

And Laurie, of Laurie's Wild West says: "I was hoping for a more in-depth history with a cohesive narrative. I wanted something with a little more substance. But if you're looking for a pleasant read that's a good introduction to how and why women would do such an insane thing as to agree to marry someone sight unseen and 3000 miles away from home, this is a good book to start with."

Thanks, Mom! I know this one is coming home with me when I visit this weekend!


  1. This looks like a good book. I have heard about mail order brides in fiction but it would be nice to read some true accounts.

  2. Good blog posting thanks for given this information.
    Priya | True Love Story

  3. Interesting topic! I'll be sure to add this one to my reading list. Thanks for sharing.

  4. I'm always interested in our history the good, the bad, and the ugly! Looks like this has it all! Great review.

  5. What is it about mail order brides that is so darn fascinating? They totally intrigue me.

  6. What an interesting book and boy, how times have changed! Can you see someone placing a classified these days saying they were looking for "a nice little cooing dove?"

  7. I love the sound of this and it's too short not to read!

  8. I have a friend that I think would really enjoy this! And that's so neat of your mom to guest post. :D

  9. I read this one a year or two ago and found it enlightening and entertaining. Good book!

  10. As a Coloradoan, I love western history and this looks like a good addition to my western women collection.

    It's always interesting to read about women's lives on the frontier juxtaposed with women's lives on a pedestal--love those inconsistent Victorians.

  11. Wow, thank you to ur mom..that was a wonderful review!

    i will make sure to look for this one.

  12. I've read a lot of firsthand accounts of the pioneer west, but missed this one. I'll have to track it down.