Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Women in the Wild West

Edith and the Mysterious Stranger
Linda Weaver Clarke
American Book Publishing (2008)
ISBN 9781589824690
Reviewed by Wendy Cleveland for Reader Views (6/08)

Edith and the Mysterious Stranger centers around the Roberts family living in the Wild West of Bear Lake, Idaho. Melinda is about to have a baby with her husband, Gilbert, but has found out that she needs to be bedridden for the remainder of her pregnancy. They enlist the help of Melinda’s cousin Edith, who is a nurse, to stay with them until the baby is born. Edith has never been married. Though many men have courted her, she seems to always find fault with each one. Melinda and Gilbert challenge each other that they will introduce Edith to two men, Henry and Joseph, with the help of Edith’s mother, Martha. Of course, Edith does not give either one of them a chance even though they continue to fight for her heart throughout. During one of Edith’s visits to her mother, she hands her a letter and tells her “We truly don’t know men until we’re married because we never know the inner person. You know, the heart, his spiritual side. We’re so busy courting and trying to impress one another that we never get to know the soul of the person.” Throughout the story, Edith receives numerous letters from this “Mysterious Stranger” each becoming more personal. Edith soon falls in love with this person even though she has never met him. Once Edith finds out who the “Mysterious Stranger” is, she is pleasantly surprised. Meanwhile, another love story is taking place between the new ranch-hand, David, and Gilbert’s 16-year-old daughter, Jenny. However, David came to the ranch with his own intentions that will be tested.

When I first started reading this book, I did not know that it was Christian Fiction nor have I ever read any. I was pleasantly surprised to find this story very uplifting. Ms. Clark did a fantastic job of portraying the importance of knowing your God Given Gifts. The history of the Wild West was also intriguing with the world of outlaws and cattle rustlers as well as the medicines and herbs they used. The doctor kept telling Melinda to take a few glasses of wine or whiskey each day for her cramping. Who knew?

The Power of the Written Word—this is the life lesson I took away from Linda Weaver Clarke’s book “Edith and the Mysterious Stranger.” In today’s society, no one writes letters anymore. Everything is done by email or telephone. Most everyone today is also materialistic looking at the outer rather than inner person. The fact that Edith fell in love with someone just by getting to know them through their letters and not seeing them was inspirational to me. Humility—if we all could just get a little of that, we would all be better people. Even though this book was a Christian love story, I would definitely recommend this to anyone interested in a good inspirational read from beginning to end. You won’t be disappointed. I’m definitely a fan and will be looking for another installment in the Roberts family saga.

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