Book Review of Chris Enss’s title: Wicked Women: Notorious, Mischievous, and Wayward Ladies from the Old West. This nonfiction, informative, entertaining book presents women of the Old West–their impact and influence on mining towns, settling the west, and men from prospectors to politicians.
Judge John H. Arbuckle promised divorces to unsuspecting men duped by mail-order brides from the East who padded their limbs, hips, bosoms or employed false hair or used cosmetic paints. Such elements of beauty were common in the Victorian American Era, at least among the wealthy. It must have been common enough among disillusioned bridegrooms for the Judge to rule (April 3, 1873) that “marriages into which a man is seduced by the use of (his list of offenses like makeup and padded breasts) without the man’s knowledge, shall stand null and void if he so desires”. Victorian ladies were guilty of nothing today’s generation hasn’t done. But just what padding devices and cosmetics were readily available in the early 1870’s?
Victorian-era Americans (both men and women) had ready access to commercially prepared human hair pieces. Women wore them to achieve the style of the day without cutting their hair or to achieve the fullness and length considered stylish and desirable when their own hair couldn’t grow to such amazing lengths. Mail-order catalogs of the period provided a wide variety of products, appealing to men and women alike, including products purported to restore gray hair to the color of youth.
5 STARS!–what did Chris Enss do with this title to earn such a high rating? I explain why I read non-fiction books about the Old West, why I recommend them to readers of fiction, the particular value of OBJECT: MATRIMONY for readers of fiction.
After a 12-part series consisting of lengthy blog posts covering many (but far from all) scams reported in Nineteenth Century Mail-Order Bride situations, is it possible to believe anyone found success in such a venture?
It’s true! While happiness might not garner front-page news stories, happy mail-order bride marriages did occur–more often than they ended in disaster. This article contains six historically documented SUCCESS stories!