Saturday, February 4, 2012

Book Review: A Suitor for Jenny

A Suitor for Jenny. Margaret Brownley. 2010. Thomas Nelson. 315 pages.

Rocky Creek, Texas
Old man Hank Applegate should have known trouble was brewing the moment the stagecoach thundered into town one week and two days late. 
Not that anyone cared. Actually, no one but Hank so much as noticed the stagecoach, late or otherwise. He might not have noticed either, had it not been for the astounding amount of luggage tied to the roof and back of the coach. Few people of any importance or interest ever came to town on the Wells Fargo stagecoach anymore. Nowadays, most folks preferred to travel by train. And who in tarnation would travel with that much luggage?

This novel has inspired me to write a couple of letters.

Dear Jenny,

I know you're supposed to be the heroine, and I know I'm supposed to pity you after your big reveal, but, your boldness is embarrassing. I mean, am I really, really supposed to believe that there were women in the 1880s that bold, that obvious, that outspoken in their husband hunting? That you were just following the advice and using the tests found in some husband-catching guidebook?! (The Compleat and Authoritative Manual for Attracting and Procuring a Husband, the Potential Husband Aptitude Test [PHAT]. It sounds a little too modern, a little too convenient. And even if such a book existed, even if there were guidebooks to help women 'catch' husbands, would they really point towards such obviously unfeminine behavior? Marching into a new town, posting Wanted posters, declaring yourself ready to accept applications and setting up appointments so you can 'screen' potential husbands. Yes, yes, I know what you're going to say. That you NEVER put yourself on the market. That you weren't trying to sell yourself as a wife to any man in town. But is it really any better that you'd put your sisters on the market? That you'd force them into such a socially awkward, morally questionable position?! I mean. They're human beings. They don't need to be packaged and repackaged and such. And you're not treating the men in the town all that much better. I mean you don't really treat anyone well. I mean you say you're not about this, that, and the other--money, wealth, status, security, etc--but it's obvious that that is what counts most for you. I think the thing that annoyed me most about you was that you JUST DIDN'T LISTEN TO ANYONE EVER. Is that harsh of me to say so? Maybe. But you needed someone to tell you that from the start. LISTEN to your sisters. See your sisters, see the truth that is oh-so-obvious. Your help is not needed, not wanted. Your sisters do NOT enjoy being displayed in such a way. And when they tell you again and again and again and again and again that they don't want to court some guy, LISTEN the first time. Because it's just cruel and heartless to demand that your sisters date who you want them to date because of what the guy looks like on paper. If he was such a great guy, you could have always volunteered yourself for the guy. The guy didn't seem to care which sister he got.
Now I know it wasn't easy for you to listen to your heart, to follow your heart. That you just didn't trust yourself, or maybe you were in denial about even having a heart, of deserving love. But. I wish you'd seen early on that Rhett was for you. Because if you'd just let Rhett open your eyes a little sooner, I wouldn't have gotten so annoyed with you. Your scenes with Rhett, well, they were what kept me reading. I mean he was a guy with swoon-potential, and you were just oh-so-clueless. Did you really, really, really think he was interested in one of your sisters? I mean, really?! When did he ever even have a conversation with one of them? When did he ever show them any kindness or go out of his way to protect them. It was you, it was always only you. Why didn't you just admit that you liked him like that?! I mean after the kiss it was oh-so-obvious. Yes, the big reveal, I suppose was what was keeping you back. But seriously. Just imagine how much worry you cost your sisters by your silliness.

Dear Brenda and Mary Lou,

Oh, how I wish I could have told you two apart. Yes, yes, I know one of you is supposedly larger (plumper) than the other. And I know that your sister, Jenny, worries that that will keep you from finding true love. But honestly I can't remember which sister is which. The good news? I liked you both, for the most part. Maybe like isn't exactly the proper word. I suppose I mean I felt for you both. I wanted your sister Jenny to let you go, to let you both be yourselves. I wanted Jenny to stop interfering in your lives. I wanted you both to gain some independence from her before you got married. Now, I must say this, I am glad that you both met men that were perfect for you. I'm glad that you both fond some romance--and that you did it your way. But I have to just stop a minute and say WHAT WERE YOU THINKING ARRANGING TO MEET THESE GUYS IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT?! I know that Jenny was watching you during the day. And I know that Jenny was probably frightening off the guys so that they couldn't approach you during the day. But. Didn't you realize that it wasn't exactly proper to sneak around in the middle of the night? That you were risking oh-so-much for a chance at love. True, these two guys ended up being gentlemen, for the most part, though I don't know that a true gentlemen would have asked for such secret late-night meetings. But they were honorable enough, I suppose, in their intentions, both wanting to ultimately marry you and live happily ever after. But meeting that way--in the night--could have gone so horribly wrong. I'm glad it didn't go badly for you. I'm glad that no one in the town--except for maybe Jenny--thought it was immoral and damaging to your reputation. At least not to the point where they would openly shun you. Maybe the whole town understood where you were coming from. Maybe they thought that Jenny left you no options but to do something so bold, so seemingly immodest. So. I'm glad it all worked out for you. And I'm glad you're going to live happily ever after.

As you can see, A Suitor for Jenny drove me a little crazy at times. This romance novel was supposed to be funny and refreshing. I get the idea it was supposed to be cute. Look at these three husband-catching sisters, look how they're turning the town upside-down! Look at how the men react to them! Isn't it funny how flustered some of these guys are getting?! Isn't it something that the marshal has his hands full trying to keep peace between these husband-hunting sisters and the bachelors in the town! But. For me--and maybe not for you--that joke got old after a few chapters. I wished the sisters had a little bit of restraint and a lot of modesty. More quiet, more sweet, more demure, more gentle, more subtle, more biblically beautiful.

Read A Suitor for Jenny

  • If you're a fan of Margaret Brownley
  • If you're a fan of romantic comedies
  • If you're a fan of romance novels set in the west, set in Texas
  • If you're a fan of Christian historical romance novels

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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