Disclaimer: Five Brides by Eva Marie Everson was provided by Tyndale in exchange for an honest review.
Five single, fiercely independent women live together in a Chicago apartment in the early 1950s, but they rarely see one another. One Saturday afternoon, as they are serendipitously together downtown, they spy a wedding dress in a storefront window at the famous Carson Pirie Scott & Co. After trying it on—much to the dismay of the salesclerk and without a single serious boyfriend between the five of them—they decide to pool their money to purchase it. Can a brush with fate and one beautiful dress forever stitch together the lives of five very different women as they take their own journeys to love and whatever comes happily ever after?
When I first started reading Five Brides, I was worried that the five different characters would blur together, with too-similar romances and too-similar actions and reactions to really discern between them. Yet, to my surprise (and delight), each of the five characters are, as the summary states, “very different.” And not only that, but their romances are different and the romantic interests/men in their lives are different as well.
Since there are five characters, the book never quite spends as much time as I would like on each one. There are a lot of viewpoint jumps as well as time jumps, and it became clear to me very soon that the book was only concerned with getting the women into the dress—what happens to them afterword was not addressed, except in the case of Betty and, in passing, Inga. As a result, the first half of the book flies by, what with five women all having their own experiences, but the second half of the book is slower-paced as the number of women dwindle. And I found the second half harder to get through, likely because of that slower pace.
For the most part, I was fine with the jumps—I’m not usually fond of time jumps, but I thought these were necessary so the book didn’t get any longer than it already was. I was disappointed, though, that Inga was shunted to the side. She has possibly the saddest storyline of the five women, and the way it ends was not satisfying in the slightest since we never get to see her again after her marriage. Instead, we get about two sentences from Magda as to how Inga is doing and never get inside Inga’s head to see if she’s loved and loving. That was disappointing.
I also wish we had seen more of Evelyn’s bounce back from her relationship with George. We see it only briefly, and with all of the time jumps it lacks impact. And her wedding isn’t even shown at all, which unfortunately made it seem as if the author just wanted the book to be over since Evelyn is the last to get married and all we get is Joan or Betty saying, “Oh, yeah, Evelyn’s getting married,” Epilogue, End. Probably not how she intended it, but it came across that way all the same.
Five Brides manages to pull off five different characters with five different personalities and five different romances (with five (and more!) different men as love interests!), which impressed me because I haven’t seen a lot of novels of this ilk pull that off with just one or two characters, let alone five. But because of the many characters, things were rushed for one or two of them, and so Inga’s story ended abruptly and unsatisfactorily, and Evelyn’s wedding and “getting the dress” moment wasn’t even present in the story at all. In addition, the pace of the book alters significantly, causing the second half of the book to be more a trudge than the first.
My rating: 4/5
Genre: Historical Fiction, Christian
You can buy this here: Five Brides