WARNING: Reading this article may give away things in the stories ranging from unimportant to plot turners.
A Bride for Donnigan by Janette Oke
Type: Christian Fiction, Historical Fiction, Romance
Basic Plot: Kathleen O’ Hara decides that her stepfamily no longer wants or needs her, and decides to try a new life by selling herself as a mail order bride. Donnigan Harrison is a farmer that is successful, but lonely, and decides to order a bride from overseas. Now they must both learn to get along with and take of a complete stranger that has just become their spouse.
Plot: 3/5 Average: A Bride for Donnigan’s plot had a mixture of good and bad qualities for its plot. The story that the book covers is interesting and realistic, but does not seem to have definite direction about halfway through. From the beginning until a few months after the marriage there seemed to be a clear direction in the story, after a certain point though, it is written more as if the author is just describing events rather than telling a story. You can see the author is trying to bring us to a Christian moral, but the events that happen seem more like they were added so that the moral could happen, not because she was trying to tell a story. This makes the book less interesting in some ways.
Writing Style and Setup: 3½/5 Above Average: Like most of Janette Oke’s books, this one is written realistically enough so that you could see the events actually happening, though usually not in a way that is boring. The style is also plain, having good descriptions, but not the flowery, deep ones seen in some literature.
The setup was used by covering before Donnigan and Kathleen are married to an event that happens several years after. Time passes through the book usually by covering main events and then sometimes skipping years at a time. This pace is a sometimes odd to read at, though it is not completely impossible.
Moral: 4/5 A Good Moral: There are about two good morals one can get from this book. The first one is not give up on marriage even when it is hard. Both Kathleen and Donnigan go through hard times in their marriage at first because of lack of communication. They overcome this though, and are determined to try to fix their problems. By staying strong and dealing with their problem they are able to have a happy marriage.
The second has to do with salvation. Kathleen and Donnigan want to please God and be forgiven of their sins, but are not sure how this is to be done. They battle with knowing they are not good enough, but still trying to find a way to please God. They eventually realize though that salvation is not about reciting certain prayers or doing good works. They realize it is about having faith in Jesus to save them.
Overall: 3½/5 Above Average: The book is not extraordinary, but is a decent Christian fiction book. It is recommended for girls ten to twelve and older.
Sexual and Inappropriate Content: ½/5 Slightly Suggestive: Women hide things in their stockings or dress bodices. A man asks Kathleen to dinner and a hotel in a slightly suggestive manner. She refuses his offer. Kathleen worries that Donnigan has ordered only one hotel room to stay in before they are married. He didn’t. There is kissing and physical contact, but all done appropriately and within marriage. Donnigan and his son talk about reproduction in a non-sexual manner. There is mention of breastfeeding.
Violence: 1/5 Non-Shown Violence: It is mentioned that two women get in a fight. Kathleen throws a parcel at Donnigan when she is angry. She later throws things at him in a playful manner. A child hurts his foot with an ax. A boy tells his brother to throw a rock at a chicken. A boy talks about how God kills people in the Bible and his father explains why. There is mention of spanking children or wanting to. One of the things Kathleen’s friend says the women may wonder the men are like is if they are violent. Kathleen is afraid to say anything bad against God because she believes he will smite her. Donnigan is cautious in fear he may get kicked by his horse.
Swearing and Using the Lord’s Name in Vain: ½/5 Mention of Swearing: It is mentioned that a men swear, but never say what those words are. There are a few of exclamations that could be looked at as taking the Lord’s name in vain, though as it is a Christian book they were probably not meant to be disrespectful on purpose. “Wench” is used twice.
Emotional, Intense, and Disturbing Content: 1/5 Emotional Scenes: There are two miscarriages. In both of them the women go through deep emotional grief. There is blood about once or twice in the book. A boy’s falls and his hands end up in a fire.
Religious Issues: 0/5 None
Magic: ½/5 Slightly Mentioned: A little boy describes God by saying He is “magic.”
Others: There is mention of chewing tobacco and cigars. Wine is mentioned once and on a ship a whole group of girls shows signs of being drunk. Kathleen is offered a drink she does not like that is probably wine. It mentions a man meeting his wife at a pub him drinking there. One of the things Kathleen’s friend says the women may wonder the men are like is if they are drinkers.
Overall: 1/5 All Ages Appropriate: The book is recommendable morally. There is nothing really bad in the book that would probably cause a Christian to not read it.