This series comprises a trilogy and a sequel, all of which I practically devoured. “Sentence of Marriage” had been sitting on my Nook for well over a year, since I feared it would be romance novel-y. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The story of Amy, a girl living in New Zealand in the 1880’s is heartfelt without being sappy, and in spite of its grittiness, ultimately warm and uplifting.
Amy Leith is a 15-year-old living on a New Zealand farm with her father and two older brothers. Even though her mother died when she was small, and her beloved grandmother not long before the book begins, we get the sense that life, though hard, is happy, and she enjoys a close relationship with her family.
All of that changes when her father takes a business trip to Auckland (two days away via steamer!) and returns with a surprise bride. Susannah is an old maid from a wealthy family, and couldn’t be less suited to farm life. I really wanted to feel sorry for her, but she’s so whiny and so horrible to Amy, that my sympathy quickly dries up. She makes life difficult for her husband and stepsons, but they spend their days on the farm, so it’s Amy who bears the brunt of her unhappiness.