Rated 3 stars *** ebook. ARC. New American Library (Penguin). 2014. Includes “A Conversation with E.B. Moore,” and “Questions for Discussion.”
The year was 1867, and Ruth was enjoying life on her Pennsylvania farm with her husband Aaron and her children Daniel, Joseph, Matthew and Esther. With a new baby on the way, and tucked deeply into the folds of her Amish life, Ruth felt peaceful and contented. As descendants of a German sect who fled the English who killed them for their religious beliefs, Ruth and her group of black clad Plain folk kept themselves separate from others not of their faith. The nickname “English” remained to describe anyone who was not of their community, and her peace was shattered the day a group of them arrived to buy horses for their trip west.
The English filled Aaron’s mind with thoughts of one thousand acres of land available for the taking in Idaho, and it didn’t take long before he became discontented with life and his farm. He wanted this free land, and Ruth could not change his mind. He began to despise her for trying, and their marriage became strained. Before long, she was forced to leave everything and everyone she’d held dear to board a Conestoga wagon for the trip west to Idaho.
Moore details the difficulties of their journey; along with the problems they faced from the other Pioneers because of their religious beliefs and way of dressing. Through it all Ruth stands tall and proud, showing herself to be a visionary and leader during a time when females were supposed to wait in their husband’s shadows.
“An Unseemly Wife” is a good read, allowing readers to be drawn into Ruth’s agony as she tried to be the wife Aaron demanded while maintaining a modicum of her own individuality. I enjoyed learning more about the Amish way of life but, despite the tragedies Ruth faced, it was hard for me to summon up the historically required “hooray for them” emotions for the “brave” Pioneers heading west. I knew the results of these journeys held even worse tragedies for the American Indians who had been living a peaceful life of their own which would be forever changed by the Pioneers and their demand for more and more land.
Despite my personal feelings I will recommend “An Unseemly Wife” for Adult readers interested in learning about a woman who dared to be different when her time and place required she be ordinary.