I was in the mood for some chick-lit after the heavy-duty Chocolat and the bizarre Like Water For Chocolate. That was why I picked up Debbie Macomber’s Morning Comes Softly at Blossoms, and began reading it almost immediately. Sadly, it left me feeling disappointed.
Morning Comes Softly is the story of a cattle rancher Travis, who has recently lost his brother and sister-in-law in a car accident, and has taken over the rearing of his three nephews – Jim, Beth Ann and Scotty. Travis, being ill-trained in household duties and in the rearing of children, has a tough time with the trio. He is on the end of his tether when someone suggests that he get a wife, to help him bring up the children. Out of desperation, as he does not want to turn in the children to social workers, Travis places an ad in the local newspaper. A shy librarian called Mary notices the ad and responds to it on a whim. Mary is extremely small and mousy and not very pretty, but she is a pro in cooking, cleaning, sewing and all the ‘womanly’ duties. She believes that Travis is her one last hope to get married and lead the life of a wife. She is thrilled when Travis responds to her letter, and she goes to live on his ranch.
Mary and Travis are disappointed with each other at first sight. In subsequent meetings, they start having second thoughts about marrying each other, to the point that they start spending sleepless nights. But then, get married they do. I really didn’t understand why they went ahead with the marriage when they were clearly so confused about committing to each other. Why didn’t they take the time to get to know each other better before they married?
Travis is depicted as a chauvinist, a man who believes that there should be a clear line of demarcation between a ‘man’s work’ and ‘woman’s work’. Initially, he is so high-handed in his barking out of orders to Mary that he infuriated me to no end. His character does redeem itself as the story progresses, though.
I had a problem with the way Travis saw Mary initially – as a Plain Jane. He is disappointed with her plain looks and timid nature, in spite of her having sent a photograph to him well in advance. If he was so very concerned about his potential wife’s looks, why not make it clear beforehand? And this, when he had made it clear that he only wanted someone who could take care of the children, and ‘nothing else’.
I had a problem with the term ‘woman’s work’ used throughout the book too. I couldn’t get my head around the fact that Travis needed a wife just to sew and cook and clean. In one of his letters to Mary, he did state that he would ‘fulfill all his husbandly duties to her, even though their marriage was more of an arrangement’. As if he was doing a charitable deed for her. That riled me to no end.
That said, I loved the way the author has shaped the character of Mary. She seems to be a reticent creature initially, but she soon has it out in the open that she has a mind of her own. She clearly sets limits of acceptable behaviour, and makes sure that Travis does not cross those lines. She turns out to be quite a firebrand behind her small frame, and I loved her spirit.
I loved the children in the book too. They are too cute and adorable. I liked the way the author has shown Mary and Travis trying to help the children come to terms with their grief and their personal issues. I liked how Mary overcame her personal qualms to accept Travis and life on a ranch.
The writing seemed forced at some points, and dragged on. The ending wasn’t powerful either, or so I felt.
All in all, I found this a very average read. It is OK if you give this one a miss. You won’t be missing much.
I would love to know your thoughts on this book, if you have read it.