I love Sandra Dallas. I think I have ready every one of her novels, and The Bride's House is one of my favorites. (Tallgrass still holds that spot.) Dallas knows how to create likeable characters and stories that just work out right.
In The Bride's House Dallas tells the stories of three generations of women, starting in 1880 with 17-year-old Nealie. Like many of her novels, this one is set in a Colorado mining community. Life can be rough in these mining towns, and often all the East Coast societal codes are ignored. Nealie falls in love and gets pregnant soon after arriving in town, but the father runs away quickly when he finds out. Or so she thinks.
A young man who is deeply in love with her agrees to marry her anyway, and her life begins in a beautiful new house in the center of town—what becomes known as the Bride's House. The first section of the book is devoted to Nealie's story, the middle to her daughter Pearl's, and the last one wraps them all together with her granddaughter Susan's own story. Casting his generous and benevolent but possessive shadow over all of them is Charlie Dumas, Nealie's husband-to-the-rescue, and his lock-box filled with family secrets.
I loved this book. Dallas captures a particular time in American history, fills it with breathing characters, and tells a story that is perfectly satisfying.