The story of Sentence of Marriage takes us back to July of 1881, to a small farmhouse on a small island off Auckland, New Zealand. Amy, our protagonist, is just thirteen years old. Motherless since a young age, she has recently lost her grandmother too. Her father and brothers Harry and John dote on her, but life on a farm is hard. She has lots of chores other than cooking, cleaning and maintaining the homestead. Her cousin Lizzie lives close by and is her best friend, a precocious fourteen year old who is fiercely protective.
The story takes a very predictable turn as Jack comes back home from a trip to Auckland with a wife in tow. Wife is an old maid from high society who has no idea what farm life is all about. She makes Amy’s life miserable and goes about being the worst step mother a girl can have. As Amy grows older, she misses the old life. almost everyone on the farm is now miserable, thanks to the new woman Susannah.
A ray of sunshine arrives in the form of Susannah’s brother who is very likeable. He makes himself useful and goes about helping everyone. He has a special liking for Amy and sets about trying to win her heart. Amy, who has never ventured beyond her farm, and hardly ever had a kind word or praise from any outsider, starts falling for him. Lizzie warns Amy time and again to be careful, and tries to elicit information. But Amy is in her own world and keeps things from her best friend.
Things take a very predictable turn, making Susannah victorious and Amy is left to gather the ashes of her life. Now she faces a fate worse than spinsterhood. Father Jack, although he loves Amy, doesn’t realize how Susannah has manipulated her. Or maybe he just ignores it.
Sentence of Marriage is very predictable. There is not a single thing in the story that is new, or that the reader cannot see happening on the next page. Perhaps the reason we still read on is because of the characters, or the setting? The book is part of a series and I am sure that this is just a precursor to the real stuff.
Sentence of Marriage is drama for sure, and you might shed some tears. But it is a good way to spend a lazy afternoon.