Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Celebrating "Spinster's Folly"

I'm so excited! Here is my very first book review! (There's even a recipe!)

Marsha Ward. Spinster’s Folly- Book Four: The Owen Family Saga. Westward Books, Payson, Arizona, USA. 2012. 152 pp.

I don’t know how many times I’ve delved into reading a highly acclaimed series only to never finish reading more than the first book.  All too often, the sequels just don’t live up to the expectations set up from the beginning. Or, the sequels spend so much time rehashing over the background story, I get bored and give up. Not so with award winning author Marsha Ward’s Owen Family Saga.  Her first novel, Man from Shenandoah elicited a 5 hanky emotional response from this reader. (I was angry for days when Marsha let one of my favorite characters die!) She had me hooked enough to take a chance on her subsequent books and she did not disappoint me.

 Marsha Ward has woven yet another adventurous tale in Spinster’s Folly.  This fourth book in the Owen Family Saga takes the reader on Maria Owen’s magnificent journey of love, forgiveness, patience, and overcoming the odds.  Marsha deals with the trauma of abuse and manipulation in a bold, yet sensitive manner. Here’s a synopsis of this gritty tale:

“Marie Owen yearns for a loving husband, but Colorado Territory is long on rough characters and short on fitting suitors, so a future of spinsterhood seems more likely than wedded bliss. Her best friend says cowboy Bill Henry is a likely candidate, but Marie knows her class-conscious father would not allow such a pairing. When she challenges her father to find her a suitable husband before she becomes a spinster, he arranges a match with a neighbor's son. Then Marie discovers Tom Morgan would be an unloving, abusive mate and his mother holds a grudge against the Owen family. Marie's mounting despair at the prospect of being trapped in such a dismal marriage drives her into the arms of a sweet-talking predator, landing her in unimaginable dangers. This fourth book in the Owen Family Saga is infused with potent heart and intense grit.”

Marsha’s fellow Western authors agree with me:
“With a great sense of time and place, crackerjack dialogue and rich characters, Marsha Ward delivers Spinster's Folly, a romance, Western and historical novel rolled into one—and one fun read.”
~Johnny D. Boggs, six-time Spur Award-winning author of Camp Ford and Legacy of a Lawman

On a personal note, and since my blog posts generally involve food, and wedding and anniversaries always involve loads of family favorites, I asked Marsha about  the Owen family's favorite foods. 

“Beans and tortillas were introduced to Jessie Bingham in a small New Mexico town in Trail of Storms. Throughout their post-war days, the Owen family ate a lot of corn meal mush/fried mush. Here's a recipe: (Thanks Marsha!)

Corn Meal Mush 
First, you have to make the corn meal mush:

3 1/2 cups water, divided
1 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups corn meal

Combine 2 1/2 cups water and salt in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Mix corn meal with the remaining water in a small bowl.

Add corn meal mixture slowly to boiling water, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low; cook, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes or until the mixture is thickened.

This would be served in a bowl or on a tin plate. If they had milk, it would perhaps accompany the mush. If not, they'd eat it plain.

To make fried mush:

Prepare as above. Pour into 8 x 4-inch or 9 x 5-inch loaf pan; refrigerate for about 1 hour or until set. Remove from pan; cut into 1/2 inch slices.

Fry slices in lightly greased skillet over medium-high heat for 4 to 5 mnutes on each side or until lightly browned.

Marsha shared some other interesting comments about the way the Owen family ate. “Once they got more settled and perhaps butchered a cow, or had wild game, they could make stew or roast the meat on a spit over an open fire or in a fireplace. They had not yet gotten to the stage of having an iron stove. Marie craves bread made with wheat. She's looking forward to the Bates's wheat harvest.”

Me: I'd have to say I'm kind of partial to my modern appliances - like refrigerators and ovens! I don't know if I could handle eating corn mush day in an day out. (shiver!) Marsha, what is your favorite food?

“My favorite food? There are so many. Among frontier foods, I like beef stew, greens from the garden, and eggs gathered warm from beneath the hen.”

Me: What kind of wedding cake did you have?

Marsha: “I had a spice cake. It was very much a do-it-myself wedding reception. I made my own dress, made the wedding party bouquets and boutonnieres except for my bouquet, planned and bought the frappe' punch makings, and would probably have mixed it if I could have (I'm such a control freak!). And it was beautiful. My dad built a lattice-work arch as the background for the wedding party.”

Mmmmm...Spice cake.

Me:  And such a beautiful bride! Marsha, you are mega talented! I loved getting to know and your characters a little better!
The new Marsha Ward with her parents on her wedding day.

 Join Marsha Ward November 10, 2012 – from 10:00am to 6:00pm for her Facebook Event (and celebration of her own wedding anniversary) where she is giving away super prizes in honor of her new novel. One of the prizes is Chocolate Roses by Joan Sowards! (Did someone mention chocolate? Where? Where?)

You know you want to be there!!!! Hugs~

OH...You really want to read these, too. The first three books in the Owens Family Saga:


  1. Hi Kari,
    Nice first book review!

    I would love it if you would please add my blog to your "My Blog List."

    Writers Mirror

    1. I would be delighted, Cindy! I just need to remember I feel like I am eating an elephant today.

  2. Spice cake huh? Great job on the review, Kari. I'm looking forward to reading this book.

  3. I love fried cornmeal mush. I haven't done that in a long time. Now I'll have to get out the skillet.

  4. Great pictures, Marsha! Loved the post.