Young Maria enjoys a close relationship with her Aunt Joaquina. That’s why Maria is surprised to hear that Joaquina plans on fleeing their island home of Guam with her British lover. Maria agrees to meet her aunt at the harbor to see her off, but the plan goes horribly wrong when Maria is kidnapped and taken on a harrowing three-day journey to the remote Bonin Islands. Her captor, Matteo Mazarro, is known for his savage treatment of women, and he forces Maria into a demeaning life of sexual slavery and abuse. Despite the gravity of her situation, Maria is determined to overcome this ordeal. With the aid of the compassionate Bonin Islanders and her deep courage, Maria manages not only to survive but also thrive on a path of love and strength that ultimately leads her to joy—and a most unexpected love.
Maria is the great-great-grandmother of Marjorie J. Hersom, the author of CAPTIVE BRIDE. Pieced together from family stories, Hersom offers up Maria’s true and inspiring story. Unfortunately, while the story itself is truly stirring, the telling of that story leaves much to be desired. Extremely poor editing litters the book with mistakes running the gamut from misspelled and misused words to punctuation errors and badly written sentences. Characters express themselves in overlong paragraphs of private thoughts in lieu of dialogue, which makes for awkward reading. Hersom also interprets Maria’s voice in flowery language that verges on pretentious, while the unique accent of the Bonin islanders is overused and tests the reader’s patience. One also wonders why the men in charge of governing Bonin did not take action against Mazarro sooner if they were as appalled by his cruelty as the book depicts.
Despite its considerable flaws, CAPTIVE BRIDE has plenty of merits. There is a wealth of fascinating information about the history of the Bonin Islands and the diverse range of people who came to settle there. The islands themselves come to life with colorful descriptions showing details of how the residents lived, what they ate, and their unbending devotion to one another. Maria is also an impressive heroine, a figure of bravery and dignity worthy of readers’ admiration.
With its interesting true story and appealing main character, CAPTIVE BRIDE could have been an amazing page-turner. Sadly, the unsatisfactory way in which that story is told keeps it from fulfilling its potential.
~Heather McNamara for IndieReader