Book Review: Mercer Girls by Libbie Hawker

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The cover on this book intrigued me because it was obvious that effort was placed on appealing to the reader. The synopsis of the book on the back succeeded in getting me to select this book to read it.

Mercer Girls is about a group of women who leave Lowell, MA a mill town, to head to the west coast as brides. They are lured into the proposition by going to Seattle to meet men who are wanting women. But, he is wanting women of a higher caliber than those of the typical mail order bride. So this book follows along the trials and lives of three women, Josephine who leaves behind an unsettled life and eager looks forward to the opportunity of teaching, Sophronia, who is an uptight, “pious” woman, and young Dovey who is the youngest at 16 who flee’s from home due to an unwanted arranged marriage.

I found this book very difficult to get into and enjoy reading. There is a bit of history here, such as the Mercer Girls whom I had never heard of prior to this book. In turn, it sent me searching for documents telling about this excursion of women. So if anything, the book gets kudos’ for reviving my interest in revisiting history to learn about this time period.

The three characters within the book, the only one I tended to like was Dovey, because straight up at the beginning of the book we understood her reason for going to Seattle. The other two characters, I never seemed to come to love and have any sort of interest in. Perhaps if I had been introduced more so to the characters of either at the beginning, and their reasons for leaving.. then perhaps I may have developed more of an affinity. Actually, I don’t think I would have developed much of an affinity for Sophrania. She seemed more like a stuck-up prude, her character reminiscent of Grace Livingston books. In Grace’s books, I expect it. But not this one.

The author writes well, however if this was a book based on true events, memoirs, I may have taken more of a liking to it. But to know it was fiction and how it was written… it just bored me.

There was also a minor point of contention, that for this to have passed the editors and yet to have a glaring error made me wonder about the qualities of the book. The part that had me pause, then reread was Chapter two: A working girl: “Father had even begun “prizing” the plaster molding from the edges of the ceilings. The plaster would bring in some money…..” Initially I thought it was to be pricing, but now I ponder and wonder if the word was actually supposed to be prying.

This is one of the few books that I actually failed to finish. I even fast forwarded to chapters ahead, hoping that something there would catch my interest. I put it aside and instead put it into my delete folder on my kindle.

I did receive this book as an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I do wish my review was more positive towards this book.

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