The Little Bride

The Little Bride

3.2 12
by Anna Solomon

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When 16-year-old Minna Losk journeys from Odessa to America as a mail-order bride, she dreams of a young, wealthy husband, a handsome townhouse, and freedom from physical labor and pogroms. But her husband Max turns out to be twice her age, rigidly Orthodox, and living in a one-room sod hut in South Dakota with his two teenage sons. The country is desolate, the

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When 16-year-old Minna Losk journeys from Odessa to America as a mail-order bride, she dreams of a young, wealthy husband, a handsome townhouse, and freedom from physical labor and pogroms. But her husband Max turns out to be twice her age, rigidly Orthodox, and living in a one-room sod hut in South Dakota with his two teenage sons. The country is desolate, the work treacherous. Most troubling, Minna finds herself increasingly attracted to her older stepson. As a brutal winter closes in, the family's limits are tested, and Minna, drawing on strengths she barely knows she has, is forced to confront her despair, as well as her desire.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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.)
From the Publisher
"An epic tale immigrant tale set on the Dakota prairie. . . . In this mythic rendition of the American immigrant narrative, Solomon's quirky prose finds the wondrous in the ordinary and vividly depicts the complex collisions between the old and new world."—More

"In her emotionally honest debut novel, The Little Bride, Anna Solomon draws on an 1880s U.S. homesteading movement called Am Olam. Jewish newcomers were encouraged to settle out west as pioneers. The result wasn't some cheerful ‘little shtetl on the prairie,’ as Solomon's heroine discovers. Impoverished Minna Losk is a 16-year-old Jewish mail- order bride from Odessa and one of the more realistic pioneers depicted in recent historical fiction. Suffering hasn't hewn her into a plucky stereotype. Instead, she is someone the reader instantly empathizes with. She wants love, and ends up with a husband twice her age. She craves comfort, and ends up in a South Dakota one-room sod hut. A fascinating if sometimes bleak page turner."—USA Today

"An engrossing slice of history. . . . The Little Bride offers a precious glimpse of the wondrously strange story of Jewish immigration evoked by Anna Solomon in her debut novel. Like other talented young Jewish-American novelists Jonathan Safran Foer and Dara Horn, Solomon fruitfully imagines faraway times and climes in The Little Bride—Europe's Odessa and America's Dakota Territory in the late 19th century, specifically—and creates a winning 16-year-old heroine in Minna Losk. . . . [A] moving debut."—The Miami Herald

“This is a very intensely imagined book, an elegantly written pocket of forgotten history.”—Audrey Niffenegger, author of the New York Times–bestselling The Time Traveler’s Wife and Her Fearful Symmetry

“Evocative of Alice Munro, Amy Bloom, and Willa Cather, but fueled by Anna Solomon’s singular imagination, The Little Bride is a masterful debut.  This tale of a Jewish mail-order bride’s homestead experience on the Great Plains is embroidered with sage, beautiful writing on every page and marks the start of a long, fine, and important career.”—Jenna Blum, author of Those Who Save Us

The Little Bride is a love story. An immigrant’s story. But most important: a story of hope and courage in the face of overwhelming odds. Anna Solomon has written a heart-wrenchingly good novel, with vivid characters and an epic frontier landscape that will haunt you long after you've turned the final page.”—Hannah Tinti, author of The Good Thief


 “Anna Solomon has created a singular heroine whose story of dashed dreams and eventual triumph is a wise and timeless wonder. Intense and gorgeous, The Little Bride gives us an unparalleled snapshot of the West.”—Jennifer Gilmore, author of Golden Country and Something Red

“A lush, gorgeous first novel. Immerse yourself in its world.”—Irina Reyn, author of What Happened to Anna K. 

“An affecting tale of 19th century Jewish settlers who find their America not on the noisy streets of the Lower East Side, but on the boundless, desolate Dakota Plains. A stirring love story and an unsettling, original portrait of the New World.”—Sana Krasikov, author of One More Year

Library Journal
Late 1880s Russia offers few choices for 16-year-old Minna Losk. Her mother deserts the family, then her father dies in a mine accident. She wants to be a bookkeeper, but her aunts send her out as a servant to a marriage broker for Jewish men. Soon Minna leaves the hopelessness, the pogroms, and the poverty for a farm in South Dakota, where, as a mail-order bride, she receives an unfriendly welcome from her husband-to-be. Max is a rough man much older than she expected, with two sons her own age. The house is a primitive sod hut carved out of the hillside with no running water. Their cow wanders up on the grass roof, and the house collapses, forcing them to accept charity from their prosperous neighbors. In despair, Minna feels that Max doesn't want her, that she's not what he paid for, and now she's romantically involved with his oldest son. VERDICT Solomon writes unsparingly of the harsh realities that women like Minna faced on the American frontier. Although the concluding chapters seem rushed, most readers will feel compelled to stay with this page-turner to its solemn finish. A strong debut novel, highly recommended for those who appreciate exceptional historical fiction.—Donna Bettencourt, Mesa Cty. P.L., Grand Junction, CO

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Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.08(w) x 7.96(h) x 0.85(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

Anna Solomon received her MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop. Her work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, One Story, The Georgia Review, and elsewhere, and has twice been awarded a Pushcart Prize. Formerly, she produced and reported award-winning features for National Public Radio's "Living on Earth." She lives in Providence, RI.


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