The Little Bride

Anna Solomon. Riverhead, $15 trade paper (320p) ISBN 978-1-59448-535-0
Solomon's intensely scripted debut was inspired by the Am Olam movement of the late 19th century in which hundreds of Jews fleeing persecution were drawn to a utopian vision of communal agrarian life across the United States. Unfortunately, Solomon abandons the fertile promise of the novel's Tolstoy-worthy premise, and limits the story's scope to one eccentric family in self-imposed exile from an Am Olam community in South Dakota, and tells the tale from the narrow point of view of a disgruntled mail-order bride. Sixteen-year-old Minna travels from Odessa with dreams of marrying a young, ambitious husband and enjoying a life of freedom and leisure in a bustling American city. What she gets is Max, a 40-year-old Orthodox recluse in a sod hut in South Dakota and two teenage stepsons. Minna soon realizes that her husband is no farmer and to complicate an already desperate situation, Minna and her older stepson are attracted to each other. The prose is exquisite as are the descriptions of the landscape, especially of a harsh South Dakota winter, but Max is too vaguely rendered to offer readers insight into the world beyond his house of mud and his field of rocks, and Minna's passive-aggressive responses to disappointment make her a difficult protagonist to empathize with, let alone trust. Solomon does deliver plenty of atmosphere and crisis, if not a convincing story, and establishes herself as a writer to watch. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 07/11/2011
Release date: 09/01/2011
Genre: Fiction
Open Ebook - 320 pages - 978-1-101-54135-7
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