May 23

Mercer Girls by Libbie Hawker

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I was given a free copy of this book as part of my involvement with NetGalley. All thoughts are my own. This post contains affiliate links.

mercer girls
Mercer Girls
by Libbie Hawker

It’s 1864 in downtrodden Lowell, Massachusetts. The Civil War has taken its toll on the town—leaving the economy in ruin and its women in dire straits. That is, until Asa Mercer arrives on a peculiar, but providential, errand: he seeks high-minded women who can exert an elevating influence in Seattle, where there are ten men for every woman. Mail-order brides, yes, but of a certain caliber.

Schoolmarmish Josephine, tough-as-nails Dovey, and pious perfectionist Sophronia see their chance to exchange their bleak prospects for new lives. But the very troubles that sent them running from Lowell follow them to the muddy streets of Seattle, and the friendships forged on the cross-country trek are tested at every turn.

Just when the journey seems to lead only to ruin, an encounter with a famous suffragist could be their salvation. But to survive both an untamed new landscape and their pasts, they’ll need all their strength—and one another.


My review:

I will fully admit that the cover drew me to this book – I took one look at it and knew I had to read it.  While it’s not exactly representative of the time frame, I instantly knew this was a historical novel about young women and I wanted in.

I’ve always been a fan of stories about “mail order brides” so I was also captivated by this aspect of the plot.  While I know the young ladies that Mercer was bringing to Seattle were not already promised to men in the new city, it’s a very similar situation.  Instead, the young women in this story were taking even more risk, knowing they may wind up alone in a strange city.

I appreciate the time Hawker took to tell the story of the actual voyage, long though it was.  I do realize she used this time to build on the relationship between Sophronia (who I constantly kept picturing as a toned-down version of Effie Trinket from The Hunger Games) and Dovey but she did give far more detail than was necessary.  I love little details like this as they really help flesh out a story.

This is another book were you must read the after-notes.  Hawker takes the time to tell us about her research about the Mr. Mercer himself and the actual women he brought to Seattle.  It is a fascinating story and one I had never heard before.  The downfall of the town of Lowell, Massachusetts, is just another casualty of the Civil War; I had not realize that the damage reached this far north.

If you’re a fan of historical novels that have lots of fact to them, then you should make time to read Mercer Girls.  Think of it as your history lesson in the midst of your summer vacation.

You can find Mercer Girls in both paperback and Kindle versions on Amazon.  You’ll also find it at various other booksellers like Barnes & Noble.

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  1. 3
    valmg @ Mom Knows It All

    I hadn’t heard of this title previously. I have a friend that enjoys historical novels, this might be right up her alley.

  2. 2

    Wow, that sounds like an interesting story! Thank you for the review.

  3. 1

    Yes, I do love historical novels based, at least, on events that happened. They can be truly interesting. This one sounds like a winner and I am going to see about getting a copy for myself. I have a feeling that my Mom would love this one as well.

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