Hearts West: The Stories of Mail-Order Brides on the Frontier - Chris Enss (Review and Giveaway!)

4 Stars
WANTED: A girl who will love, honest, true and not sour;a nice little cooing dove, and willing to work in flour.
Desperate to strike it rich during the Gold Rush, thousands of men traveled West to the emerging frontier, where they outnumbered women twelve to one. Only after they arrived did some of them realize how much they missed female companionship.
Hearts West brings to life true stories of mail-order brides of the Gold Rush era. Some found soul mates; others found themselves in desperate situations. Complete with the actual hearts-and-hands personal advertisements that began some of the long-distance courtships, this fascinating book provides an up-close look at the leap of faith these men and women were willing to take.

Enss is an award-winning screen writer who has written for television, short subject & feature films, and standup comedians. She is the author of Hearts West: True Stories of Mail Order Brides on the Frontier, How the West Was Worn: Bustles and Buckskins on the Wild Frontier, and Buffalo Gals: Women of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. The Cowboy and the Senorita, Happy Trails, and The Young Duke were co-authored with film producer Howard Kazanjian. 

This is a subject I have always been interested in! The 1800's is my favorite time period to read about. My daughter thinks I was born about 100 years too late. This book was very interesting. It isn't about just one woman or man, it is short stories telling the outcome of several "Mail-order brides" or the Gentlemen who received them. Excerpts were taken from diaries and letters to make the stories authentic. Some of the arrangements worked out and the couple stayed happily married for years, but some of them  never did get married or the marriage was very short lived.
This kind of reminds me of an 1800's version of e-harmony. Here is a sample of a couple of the adds that were placed -
A Gentleman of 25 years old, 5 feet 3 inches, doing a good business in the city, desires the acquaintance of a young intelligent and refined lady possessed of some means, of a loving disposition from 18 to 23 and one who could make home a paradise.

A widow of 28. 5 feet 2 inches tall, black eyes and hair, weighing 125 pounds, wishes to make the acquaintance of some dark complexioned gentleman of 25 to 45, am a first rate housekeeper.
 If you are unfamiliar with "mail-order brides" during this time period - it came about because of the gold rush taking all the men out west. The west was predominantly men. At the same time, because of the civil war many of the women of the east were left widows. So some different people came up with the idea of sending the women out west to join with the men, get married, start families and make the west a more civilized place to live.

This was a very interesting book. Anyone who is interested in American history or the settlement of the west would love this book. This is a very short book - only 115 pages, but with lots of pictures!

I am giving away my copy of this book (remember it is thin so don't be surprised).
* To win a copy of this book, please fill out the form below.
* Please US & Canada only.
And please only enter once!
* Winner will be chosen on 3/28/12
* Winner will have 48 hrs. to respond.


  1. This reminds me a little bit of The Buddha in the Attic, which was similar, but mostly about Japanese mail order brides, and told in a collective voice. I would love to read this one too, as this time period and setting so intrigue me. This was an excellent review as well, by the way. I loved getting your perspective!

    1. Oh! I have heard of "The Buddha in the Attic" but didn't know what it was about! I might be interested in reading that, Thanks Heather!

  2. Thanks for the chance to win this. I love reading historical romance novels that feature mail-order brides. Or really any historical book set in the Old West. I sometimes think it would have been nice to live back in the 1800s. But usually I am glad for all of the modern conveniences and especially health care of today's world.

  3. i love these kinds of books keeping fingers crossed in hoping i win it...would oh so love to be able to read it...great giveaway

  4. Sounds like a good read. I can't imagine what I would write about myself in order to gain a husband.