Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Book Review -- The Diary of Mattie Spenser

The Diary of Mattie Spenser

My enjoyment rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

Source:  Personal copy, library copy and Ebook!







Lost in a trunk in her granddaughter’s attic, Mattie Spenser’s diary is a pearl waiting to be discovered. Once the cover is opened, a remarkable story unfolds of homesteading, survival, hardship and tragedy.



Sandra Dallas has created a Wild West tale around the fictional diary of Mattie Spenser. Wed in Iowa, she and her husband Luke embark on an arduous trek to Colorado to become farmers. As one would imagine, life is tough. Weather, shelter, Indians, and illness are all obstacles that must be endured and overcome, whether you liked it or not. Mattie suffers loneliness on many levels: neighbors are scattered far and wide; her husband travels extensively and is emotionally distant (something Mattie will have to deal with eventually); and the solitude of her “soddie” is nearly overwhelming.



I appreciated the history the author brought to this novel – the diary had a very “authentic” feel to it – as if Mattie was a long lost ancestor. But some of the scenarios that Mattie faced didn’t seem to fit the time period. Mattie develops a friendship with another male homesteader, and in once sentence it was improper for her to be alone with him. At the next moment, he is delivering her baby.



Also, the relationship between Luke and Mattie is tested by a third party. Obviously, infidelity it biblical in time, but I thought it was awkward to think that Luke could be unfaithful when the third party was 1800 miles away – by HORSE!



Ultimately, and this isn’t the fault of the author or the book – but I kept comparing this novel to These Is My Words by Nancy Turner – a book I ADORED! And this didn’t come close to meeting the magic created by Sarah Prine and Captain Jack Elliott!



This was the second novel I’ve read by Sandra Dallas – and so far I have been underwhelmed by her offerings.