August 20, 2010

Wanted: A Mail-Order Bride Story

by Mona Hodgson

Hello, everyone! Thanks for stopping by. I look forward to reading your comments and chatting with you here. Tina, thanks bunches for this opportunity to guest post on the Bustles & Spurs blog today.

I had great fun living the life of a mail-order bride. Vicariously, that is, through the harrowing, humorous, and heart-warming experiences of Kat Sinclair and her sister Nell. Two sisters, two missing misters, and a shocking welcome to the Wild West.

What pulls you and I toward such an outrageous scenario as a woman leaving what she knows to step into the unknown with a man she doesn’t know?

Mail-order brides represent a stalwart breed of women who exude courage, strength, and a sense of adventure. They are women seeking a new beginning, opportunities, and financial security. We gravitate toward these stories because we like meeting a gutsy woman, young or old, who has a need to be married, but doesn’t have any promising prospects in her current circumstances. Their moxie might inspire us, but we’d happily do without the desperation that drives many of them west.

Usually, the heroine is connected to a possible mate through a response to some sort of advertisement.

Wanted: A single woman who is willing to walk away from the life she knows to travel across the country or even around the world and marry a stranger. She must be willing to bear his children and take care of their home, all while causing him to grow in his affection for her.

The mail-order bride plot line is typically one in which a man living in a western country, most commonly out west in the United States, marries a woman from a depressed or oppressed country or from the male-deprived eastern United States, sight unseen. Personal advertisements for matrimony served as the link between mail-order brides and the men who sent for them.

The fellow placing the ad or responding to an ad may end up being the one the heroine marries, but what if he isn’t? What if he isn’t who he is purported to be?

Or maybe it’s the heroine who wears a fa├žade. If so, why? And where does the misleading and misgivings take the characters?

Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan is one of the most popular examples using the mail-order bride scenarios in fiction. Papa lost his wife and placed an ad in the newspaper. Easterner Sarah Elizabeth Wheaton responded, setting her adventure in the west with the widower and his two children in motion. The classic tale began as a children’s novel and emerged as a popular Hallmark television movie.

While the mail-order bride storyline is most commonly seen in historical fiction, the 1993 movie, “Sleepless in Seattle,” offered a contemporary twist on the classic story form. A motherless boy desperate to help his father find a new wife called into a radio show and told his father’s story of loss and loneliness. Letters flooded his father’s mailbox opening the door to a compelling and heart-warming romance.

In my debut historical novel, Two Brides Too Many, two of four Sinclair sisters travel west and arrive at the depot in Cripple Creek, Colorado expecting to meet the men with whom they’d corresponded. But when the ladies disembark at the train depot, neither fiance’ awaits them. The well-bred Sinclair sisters find themselves alone in the wild, frontier town—a place where fire threatens to reduce the buildings to rubble, the working women strut the streets, rogues will gamble for the shoes on one’s feet, and grace is found among the most unlikely of folks.

If you share my delight in mail-order bride stories with a twist, I hope you’ll ask your favorite bookseller for a copy of Two Brides Too Many.

MONA HODGSON is the author of Two Brides Too Many (WaterBrook Press, a division of Random House), now available through all major distributors and Too Rich for a Bride (WaterBrook Press, available exclusively at Walmart stores beginning October 12, 2010) . Her writing credits also include 28 children’s books, including Bedtime in the Southwest and Real Girls of the Bible: A Devotional. You can connect with Mona at,, and at Mona Hodgson Fan Page. To read the first chapter of Two Brides Too Many, go to, click on Mona’s Novels then on Sneak Peek. If you’re part of a book club, please check out the For Book Clubs page.


A J Hawke said...

People who are capable of being bigger than life always draw my attention and the concept of mail order brides fit this description.

I look forward to reading your book, TWO BRIDES TOO MANY.

A J Hawke

Vickie McDonough said...


I really enjoyed your book and am happy to see the sequel will be out soon. I love mail-order bride stories and have written a few myself. You just have to admire those gutsy-and probably desperate--women.

Mona Hodgson said...

Thanks, A J. I appreciate your enthusiasm for TWO BRIDES TOO MANY. Thanks for adding it to your "read" list. Blessings, Mona

Mona Hodgson said...

Hi, Vickie. Glad you're enjoying the Sinclair sisters. I am too. Ida's story isn't a mail-order bride story, but I'm anxious for you to read it. She's quite gutsy too.

Jules said...

My great-grandmother was a mail-order bride! (She came from Poland, ended up in Chicago, and switched places with her friend who had decided not to answer the letter from a man in Washington state. He had sent a one-way ticket, and so she went to Washington with the stipulation that she could return if she didn't find him suitable.)
I'm looking forward to reading your book!

Mona Hodgson said...

Thanks for sharing the story about your great-grandmother, Jules. I love it! And thanks for adding Two Brides Too Many to your "must read" list.

Casey said...

I really love books about mail order brides. They are always so fascinating! Can't wait to read Two brides too many!

Anonymous said...

Hey Mona, i am doing an assignment in class for Mail-Order Brides and you blog really helped me out. It is fascinating to learn about all of this of the 1800's! Thank You!