CFBA review: Sixteen Brides by Stephanie Grace Whitson

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing Sixteen Brides

from Bethany House (April 2010) by Stephanie Grace Whitson


A native of southern Illinois, Stephanie Grace Whitson has lived in Nebraska since 1975. She began what she calls “playing with imaginary friends” (writing fiction) when, as a result of teaching her four home schooled children Nebraska history.

She was personally encouraged and challenged by the lives of pioneer women in the West. Since her first book, Walks the Fire, was published in 1995, Stephanie’s fiction titles have appeared on the ECPA bestseller list numerous times and been finalists for the Christy Award, the Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award, and ForeWord Magazine’s Book of the Year.

Her first nonfiction work, How to Help a Grieving Friend, was released in 2005. In addition to serving in her local church and keeping up with two married children, two college students, and a high school senior, Stephanie enjoys motorcycle trips with her family and church friends.

Her passionate interests in pioneer women’s history, antique quilts, and French, Italian, and Hawaiian language and culture provide endless story-telling possibilities.


In 1872, sixteen Civil War widows living in St. Louis respond to a series of meetings conducted by a land speculator who lures them west by promising “prime homesteads” in a “booming community.”

Unbeknownst to them, the speculator’s true motive is to find an excuse to bring women to the fledgling community of Plum Grove, Nebraska, in hopes they will accept marriage proposals shortly after their arrival! Sparks fly when these unsuspecting widows meet the men who are waiting for them.

These women are going to need all the courage and faith they can muster to survive these unwanted circumstances–especially when they begin to discover that none of them is exactly who she appears to be.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Sixteen Brides, go HERE.


Fans of historical fiction will be delighted with the Little Soddy Near to Plum Grove, er, Sixteen Brides (and I mean that favorably.) Provided, that is, that they don’t find books with large numbers of POV characters difficult reading. The author, as she readily admits, bit into an elephant of a tale with five heroines, and one of the romantic interests is also a POV character. I personally found it a little difficult to get a handle on at first, with all the POV switches, which is probably why Jeff Gerke goes to the opposite extreme and recommends waiting 30 pages to introduce another POV. Overall, however, I have to say that Whitson pulls it off, although that does depend somewhat on the reader’s willingness to give up on trying to figure out who the “central” heroine is supposed to be and just enjoy all of them.

Another thing the author does well is the modern strong woman the market demands authors of historical fiction pluck down in eras of lace and doilies. These ladies are strong, and appropriately raise the town folks’ eyebrows a bit, and yet I also never doubted whether they were products of their times.