The Cumberland Bride

Set in Tennessee in the spring of 1794, during the French and Indian War, The Cumberland Bride, by Shannon McNear, follows Kate Gruener and her family as they and other families follow the Wilderness Road through the Cumberland Gap, and into the frontier land of Kentucky. This is the fifth, and latest book in The Mayflower Brides series, a historically accurate series that follows fictitious descendants of the Mayflower through American history. I have read three of them, and thoroughly enjoyed each one.

McNear weaves an engrossing tale of what it must have been like to live during those dangerous years when the new government signed treaties with the Native American tribes only to “forget” about them. It didn’t help that the British roused the tribes to fight against new settlers.

The story opens with Kate taking her mother’s letter to the post rider, where she is immediately smitten with him. Her father hires Thomas Bledsoe as a scout/guide to take their family along the Wilderness Road. Imagine Kate’s surprise and delight when it turns out to be Thomas, the post rider. Alas, he is a confirmed bachelor. Well, he thinks he is. As the two sneak sly glances at each other, everyone else notices the attraction. Finally, at a time of extreme danger, they can no longer deny their love for each other.

The descriptions of the wild beauty of the Appalachians, the Shenandoah Valley, and the Blue Ridge lead the reader to feel as if he or she is right there on the trail with Thomas and the Gruener family.

Prayers are said, and scripture is quoted periodically through the story, particularly in life and death, or otherwise dangerous situations. The scripture passages chosen by the author fits the scenes perfectly.

The author’s notes at the end of the book are especially interesting – almost as interesting to this history buff as the book itself. She shares some of her research, and how her views changed as she increased her knowledge base.

What Makes This Book Reviewer Grumpy?

  • Incorrect use of the phrase, “begs the question”. This is a phrase from philosophy and philosophers. It has to do with arguing a point, but in no way relates to the phrase, “raises the question”. The misuse of “begs the question” began in the very late 20th century, and was not in common use in the 18thcentury setting of this book. Additionally, an uneducated man such as Mr. Hughes would not likely have known the phrase.
  • A large number of split infinitives;
  • Beginning sentences with conjunctions;
  • Mistaking “further” for “farther” (the two words are not interchangeable);
  • Misplacement of the word “only” within sentences.

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