The Little Bride

The Little Bride

by Anna Solomon

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Overview

The Little Bride by Anna Solomon

From the award-winning author of Leaving Lucy Pear, an unflinching, lushly imagined love story set against the backdrop of the epic frontier

Anna Solomon's new novel Leaving Lucy Pear is available now from Viking Books


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. And 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.

Boston Globe Best Seller

“Evocative of Alice Munro, Amy Bloom, and Willa Cather, but fueled by Anna Solomon’s singular imagination . . . a masterful debut . . . embroidered with sage, beautiful writing on every page . . . marks the start of a long, fine, and important career.” —Jenna Blum, author of Those Who Save Us

“Minna is a terrifically complex heroine: a little snobby, a little selfish and wholly sympathetic.” —The New York Times
 
“Like...Jonathan Safran Foer and Dara Horn. [A] wondrously strange story of Jewish immigration.” —Miami Herald
 
“This mythic rendition of the American immigrant narrative...finds the wondrous in the ordinary and vividly depicts the complex collisions between the Old World and the New.” —More

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781594485350
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 09/06/2011
Pages: 336
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.91(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Anna Solomon is the author of Leaving Lucy Pear and a two-time winner of the Pushcart Prize. Her short fiction and essays have appeared in publications including The New York Times Magazine, One Story, Ploughshares, Slate, andMORE. Coeditor with Eleanor Henderson of Labor Day: True Birth Stories by Today’s Best Women Writers, Solomon previously worked as a journalist for National Public Radio. She was born and raised in Gloucester, Massachusetts, and lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband and two children.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“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

Reading Group Guide

INTRODUCTION

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.



ABOUT ANNA SOLOMON

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.



DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
  • What destiny is Minna trying to escape in fleeing Odessa? Do you think she'd have been better served by staying and marrying a man her aunts would have recommended over taking a blind leap of faith?
  • The author infuses The Little Bride with sweeping historical details and lush portraits of not only the teeming cities but the vast Western landscape. While reading the novel, did you feel as though you'd been transplanted to the great, vibrant plains of South Dakota? What was life like for these colonists? What challenges awaited them as they pulled away from the bigger cities, especially as the seasons changed?
  • Why do you think the mail-order bride business thrived and appealed to some participants? What reasons did Max have to summon Minna to South Dakota? What was he hoping for in his "little bride"? What role was Minna stepping into?
  • Minna undergoes many hardships during her journey to America. What life is she expecting there? What parts of herself did she want to leave behind?
  • How does working with the earth on Max's farm change Minna? What skills does she possess when she first arrives, and how does she build her self-reliance? How does being in survival mode cause her to mature?
  • How does the absence of Minna's mother echo throughout her life, and over the course of the novel? How is this loss—and the lessons and wisdom Minna would never receive from her—mirrored in Samuel and Jacob's lives, who also have had their mother leave them?
  • Think about the idea of faith. Max is ostensibly the most faithful character, but how is his faith a weakness? Which other characters exhibit faith? How does Minna have faith?
  • What similarities are there between Max and Minna's father? How are both marked by the grief of losing their wife, and how does each choose to live afterward?
  • How would you describe Minna's relationship to Jacob and Samuel? Do you believe Minna when she admits to coming to feel love for her husband and stepsons? What is the turning point for her, and does she later reverse this feeling?
  • How is a woman's worth tied into her fertility—then and even now? In the book, how is this demand heightened on the frontier versus in the more urban, settled cities? Why?
  • The idea of virtue is important throughout the novel. Which characters do you think are virtuous? How do they express their virtue? Is virtue always a good quality?
  • Minna makes a choice for herself at the end of the novel. Do you think this is a sign of maturity? What do you think she has learned from her experience?

Customer Reviews

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The Little Bride 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Historical fiction can help us find a new perspective on a slice of history. The Little Bride tries to do that with the settlement of the prarie but seems to be trying to combine Old World atrocities with New World hardships for Jews. The writing is stark and creates tension but is also unfulfilling. Our protagonist is at once a sympathetic character, even a victim, while also a cruel and teasing creature full of her own needs. Makes you think but it isn't what might have been expected. Not everyone will enjoy it and the hype is overblown. I read this hoping for an adult book I could recommend to good teenage readers. I don't think this fits the bill. Adult concerns exclusively.
Marcie77 More than 1 year ago
The Litte Bride by Anna Solomon takes place in the late 1800s. The story begins in Odessa with the first glimpse of Minna. Minna is sixteen years old. She commits to a marriage that is arranged by an agency that fits wealthy, established Russian Jews with young brides. Although Minna is excited about her new life, she also has a lot of trepidation. However when she gets to America, Minna soon learns that things are not as she thought they would be. Minna is the prominent character in this novel. Everything is told from her point of view. She is a well-written character with a range of emotions. She travels form Odessa to America in hard conditions. The only thing that really kept her hanging on is the new life promised to her in America. However Minna quickly discovers things are not as she thought. Her 'better life' is replaced by hardships and hard work. Not only that, her 'husband' is quite a bit older than she is and she's attracted to his oldest son who is closer to her age. One of the things I love most about the novel is the detail that Anna Solomon puts into this novel. The way she describes everything from Minna's examination to the cold hard winters of North Dakota is phenomenal. She gave me a clear picture of what it must have been like during this time period. I think this really helps me understand the novel in a way I might not have before. Overall I really like this novel. I was not familiar with this time period in history before I read this novel. I think Anna Solomon did a wonderful job showing the good and the bad. Her portrayal of the characters seems really realistic. This is a great book that is not only moving but also very insightful.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Flawed characters. Unusual setting. Hardships. This novel was a page turner for me. This is a "not a feel good" novel. It is gritty, harsh, odd, and disturbing sometimes. The novel includes a sad childhood, a neglected daughter, a terrible sea journey, a disappointing groom, a harsh environment, and more. I will definitely read more from this author. The book deserves an A+++
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literarymuseVC More than 1 year ago
Minna Losk has experienced much suffering by the time she's 16 years old. Her mother abandoned her father and her, and her father lives a tortured life between forgetting and memories that affect Minna until she lives her entire life surviving loss. Things are not much better after her father dies and she is shipped off to relatives and then a family who present as haunting, dysfunctional, and even mentally ill people. Her job is to be a serving girl. But lest one judge too quickly, these are Jewish people who live through the late 1800s pogroms in Odessa and other Russian towns. Waiting to be brutally attacked day after day after day could stretch any one's sanity to the limit! Then Minna has the opportunity to become an American bride to an unknown man South Dakota. The journey overseas to her new home is fraught with watching people die from seasickness and starvation, with additional violent scenes to scar even the toughest character. It turns out she is about to marry into a home where the first wife has also abandoned the family, finding the wild West far too much for her grand ideas of living in America. Max's two sons, Sam and Jacob, believe Minna can never understand their past life. Their relationship is odd as they are closer in age to Minna and Max is twice her age and a religious Jew whose family believed he was going to become a famous Rabbi someday! Minna typifies the harsh brutal life of a farmer's wife meant to help eke out a living on unyielding land, with no money to put into bettering a farm that is really not a farm. Suddenly a relationship develops between Minna and one of the sons, and secrets begin to be revealed. While the plot seems fairly straight and even simplistic or stereotypical, there is nothing of that because of the way in which Anna Solomon takes the reader into Minna's mind, spinning stark and literate reflections with a tortured reality that defies one's idea of how much can be endurable. The Little Bride is a highly literate, uniquely lyrical account about the Jewish immigrant experience in a harsh American frontier that respects no gender, culture, or class. Remarkable novel!
RtBBlog More than 1 year ago
Review by Sarah L.: The Little Bride is the emotional story of 16 year old Minna Losk who agrees to be a mail order bride to an unknown man in America. She endures hardship after hardship. Despite all the misery she encounters at such a young age, including her mother's desertion, her infant brother dying and her father's death along with her aunts kicking her out of her home afterward, she has dreams of a better life. Minna has dreams and visions of a wonderful husband and a fancy home with servants but reality sets in when she finds instead a barren, desolate prairie land in South Dakota and a 40 year old man with 2 teenage sons whose first wife deserted them. Life is very rough for Minna. It is obvious she is unhappy and lonely. Instead of trying to strike up a conversation with Minna to get to know her, Max and the boys do all their talking after she has gone to bed. The author has an interesting writing style which is at first I found confusing, distracting and a bit hard to decipher which led to me to go back and re-read paragraphs and pages. After about the first 60 pages however, I was able to adapt and followed along much more easily from that point on. This story takes an emotional toll on a person. The author does a good job making the reader feel the range of emotions Minna experiences. Unfortunately she has a very rough life and it is a bit disheartening to read about. It is a well-written story and the author portrays Minna's life very well however I found it difficult to stay interested.
FeatheredQuillBookReviews More than 1 year ago
Minna Losk is a sixteen-year-old girl who works as a maid-servant in the poverty of Odessa. After a hard beginning in work and in life, Minna learns she is to go to America as a mail-order bride. To do so, she must present herself for a full physical before leaving the country and heading to the "free" shores, and that one moment alone is enough to scare anyone to death. But Minna is determined to find a better life, as she gets on the boat and soon finds herself locked in a horrific journey across the sea Upon arrival, a sense of renewed faith appears in Minna's soul, and she is so thankful to finally be in the land that she has dreamed about for so long. Minna is so looking forward to a kind, loving husband, wealth, and a place to call home where she can be happy and raise her children. As with all things in life, Minna quickly finds that her husband, Max, is far older than she is, and didn't even have the decency to break away from work to pick her up and escort her to her new home. In fact, it is Max's younger brother who arrives - a handsome, truly lovely young man - who immediately tries to make Minna feel at home. Upon arriving at their destination in South Dakota, Minna finds a rigid Orthodox man who certainly doesn't seem to like Minna's Jewish heritage one bit; yet with her fair skin and blue eyes, she seems to pass his inspection. The house is one-room and is a complete mess. So much for the wealth. And the hard work that Minna must put in every day is more like the work required of a slave, not a wife. Add to that the desolate country and very rude townspeople, and Minna soon finds that all her dreams of America were completely false, and she is now stuck in a situation even worse than the one she left back home. The author does an outstanding job of showing every aspect of history, and how incredibly difficult and frightening it was to be a mail-order bride. Hearts will go out to Minna as they watch this young girl fall in love with another, and find the strength and power to keep her head above water in a world that is forcing her to drown. Quill Says: A powerful debut with a lovely romance, as well as a very real tale of poverty and dreams that turn into nightmares.