Sunday, October 25, 2020

Book Review and GIVEAWAY - Matrimony, Inc.: From Personal Ads to Swiping Right, a Story of America Looking for Love, by Francesca Beauman (10 winners, ends 11/2}

Guest review by: Becki Bayley

Marriage ads reached Ohio by the 1840s, and within a decade they were in evidence across the border in Indiana too. In 1852, James Hanes turned to the Richmond Palladium to find “a lady worth a few thousand dollars, of common sense, with a taste for the fine arts, a lover of science, about the medium size, with an open, cheerful countenance, affectionate in disposition, and capable of taking care of a large family.” In the Indiana Herald ten years later, “a young man of correct business habits” was looking for “any young lady of fair intellectual endowments, an ordinary share of beauty, who would not be averse to a personal superintendence of household matters.” He almost—almost—manages to make the offer of becoming his unpaid housekeeper sound appealing.

Whether they’ve been socially acceptable or not, personal ads have always been interesting! Several of the qualities people look for in mates never really seem to change too much.

Official synopsis:
Book Review and GIVEAWAY - Matrimony, Inc.: From Personal Ads to Swiping Right, a Story of America Looking for Love, by Francesca Beauman (10 winners, ends 11/2}
Have you ever used a dating app or website? Then you have more in common than you know with lonely homesteaders in 18th century New England. At once heartwarming and heartbreaking, Matrimony, Inc. reveals the unifying thread that weaves its way through not just marriage and relationships over the centuries, but American social history itself: advertising for love.

Amazingly, America’s first personal ad appeared in the Boston Evening Post as early as 1759. A “person who flatters himself that he shall not be thought disagreeable” was in search of a “young lady, between the age of eighteen and twenty-three, of a middling stature, brown hair, of good Morals…” As family-arranged marriages fell out of fashion, "Husband Wanted" or "Seeking Wife" ads were soon to be found in every state in the nation.

From the woman in a Wisconsin newspaper who wanted “no brainless dandy or foppish fool” to the man with a glass eye who placed an ad in the New York Times hoping to meet a woman with a glass eye, the many hundreds of personal ads that author Francesca Beauman has uncovered offer an extraordinary glimpse into the history of our hearts’ desires, as well as a unique insight into American life as the frontier was settled and the cities grew. Personal ads played a surprisingly vital role in the West: couple by couple, shy smile by shy smile, letter by letter from a dusty, exhausted miner in California to a bored, frustrated seamstress in Ohio. Get ready for a new perspective on the making of modern America, a hundred words of typesetter’s blurry black ink at a time.

“So anxious are our settlers for wives that they never ask a single lady her age. All they require is teeth,” declared the Dubuque Iowa News in 1838 in a state where men outnumbered women three to one. While the dating pools of 21st century New York, Chicago or San Francisco might not be quite so dentally-fixated, Matrimony Inc. will put idly swiping right on Tinder into fascinating and vividly fresh historical context. What do women look for in a man? What do men look for in a woman? And how has this changed over the past 250 years?

This was an entertaining examination of personal ads through the years. The author’s snark responding to some of the ads was quite amusing. The ads themselves were usually too small and blurry to read, but the excerpts she chose definitely brought the history to life.

Some favorite stories included from the history of personal ads were those of men, women, and couples sometimes using personal ads to target and attract particular victims—usually those with money and few contacts who would check up on them. The stories of some of the crimes they committed, and how they were finally caught, were interesting.

Overall, I’d give this book 3 out of 5 stars. The history was a bit dry in parts, but the author’s voice and sassy humor lightened the tone. This would be a good book for those who enjoy non-fiction and social commentaries.

{click here to purchase}

Becki Bayley has been married for 14 years, and originally met her husband when he attended college with her brother. She sometimes shares pictures of her family on Instagram as PoshBecki.


10—yes, TEN!—of my lucky readers will win an Advance Reader Copy of Matrimony, Inc.!

Enter via the widget below. Giveaway will end on Monday, November 2nd, at 11:59pm EST, and winners will be contacted via email the next day, and have 24 hours to respond, or an alternate winner(s) will be chosen.

U.S. residents only, please.

Good luck!

Matrimony, Inc., by Francesca Beaumont


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