A Young Wife

I received an Advance Reader’s Edition of A Young Wife, by Pam Lewis, through a Goodreads giveaway. From the moment I began reading, I was completely engrossed. While mostly a serious read, it was also a quick read and very entertaining.

Minke van Aisma, 15 years old, is chosen by an older wealthy man to travel to Amsterdam to care for his dying wife. The day his wife dies, Sander DeVries proposed marriage to Minke within days they sail to Argentina. Minke doesn’t really know her husband’s business details, but she believes he is a merchant and will open a store when they reach Comodoro Rivadavia. Minke is completely in love with her husband, even after his true colors begin to show.

Shortly after reaching Argentina, Minke discovers that she is pregnant. She loves being a mother to their son Zef, and is excited when she learns that she is pregnant again. Her husband does not seem to share her enthusiasm. Soon, Minke’s sister Fenna arrives from the Netherlands, very unexpectedly, but it turns out that Sander has sent for her, claiming she is to help Minke with Zef. On one of her daily trips to the beach, riders appear and kidnap Zef before her very eyes. Inquiries are made, but with no results. Sander claims to get a confession out of a young man, one of Minke’s only friends, and kills him. He must leave Argentina immediately. He and Fenna go to New York, to find work and set up a house. Minke is too advanced in her pregnancy to travel, so remains behind with Sander’s physician uncle, Cassain.

After Elly is born and is old enough to travel, the three go to New York. Terribly excited to see her beloved husband, Minke is left disappointed at her frosty reunion. Knowing something to be amiss, she soon discovers exactly what. Conditions not what she expected, she is forced to find a job. With the help of her employers, she unravels the mystery of what happened to her first child, Zef.

In the acknowledgements, Pam Lewis explains that this book is loosely based on the events of her grandmother’s life, who was also born in the Netherlands, moved to Comodoro Rivadavia, and subsequently New York. There is no other information provided about the similarities between the lives of Minke and her grandmother, but I would be interested to know more. While the story was also a coming of age story for Minke and about how she found her own strength and independance, the personal cost was also quite high. (However, Minke was only in her 20s at the end of the book, with plenty of time for a lifetime of happiness.) I can only hope that the grandmother’s life began on a happier note.

I enjoyed the story and the writing style. There were also a few emotional scenes, but I felt that these could have been improved with more in depth character development. There were also characters that I would be interested to know more about, but as that information was not necessary to the plot, I understand why it was left out. Also, I felt that the end was a bit abrupt. I will assume that Minke has a happy ending, (not that the book ended unhappily, quite the opposite), but a bit more confirmation of that would have been nice as well.

Overall, A Young Wife, is a book I very much enjoyed. It actually reminded me a bit of Honolulu, by Alan Brennert, in that it was about a young wife coming to America with a less than ideal family situation. Anyway, full of adventure, a bit of mystery and romance, A Young Wife held me captivated.

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