Reading Defending Jacob and Sixteen Brides

Defending Jacob

Defending Jacob, by William Landay is a fast-paced legal mystery. It was a book club pick, and generated quite a lively discussion about being a parent, what it means to support your children, and the classic comparison of nature versus nurture. Landay, a former attorney, is skilled at creating legal drama without letting the book get dry or heavy (fans of John Grisham would definitely enjoy this book). In addition to the tight writing, one of the book's strengths is in its narrator -- Andy is an assistant district attorney -- professional, experienced, expert. He narrates with the confidence of someone who is just giving you the facts of the story, someone who is used to being right. The thing is...Andy's pretty biased in relation to the story he's telling. You have to read between the lines to try and figure out what's going on, and even sure are you? This is certainly a plot-centric book, but with well-written characters to give it more depth.

(hmmm....why is it I seem to be posting thoughts about two books at once lately. Laziness?)

Sixteen Brides

Sixteen Brides, by Stephanie Grace Whitson is a pleasant post-Civil War story about sixteen women -- mostly widows, with one divorcee -- who sign on with a company promising to help them secure land grants in the Nebraskan territories. When they find out that their guide to the territories is really trying to sell them off as brides, several of the women band together in the tiny town of Plum Grove, Nebraska to hold on to their original dream -- freedom, independence, and land of their own. Adventure, discovery, and romance ensue. I have a soft spot in my heart for Western romances -- I think it's the Missouri girl in me -- and I enjoyed meeting the residents of and newcomers to Plum Grove. I was inspired by their adventuresome spirit, by the way they fought against society's expectaions, and by the way they determined to make a life for themselves. My only complaint is that I wish Whitson had turned this into two or three books. I wanted more! The book focuses on five of the "sixteen brides," and I think the ladies got a little short-changed. There wasn't room for the kind of development the stories needed, and you ended up with a lot more "tell" than "show."