Book Review: Matrimony, Inc. by Francesca Beauman

Matrimony, Inc. From Personal Ads to Swiping Right, a Story of America Looking for Love by Francesca Beauman

Publication Date: October 6, 2020 by Pegasus Books

Source: Paperback ARC, 208 pages

Summary: (from Goodreads)

A clever, thoughtful, and funny history that reveals how the Union of states was built on a much more personal union of people.

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?

Rating: 4/5 stars


**I received a physical ARC of this book for free from the publisher/author in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.**

So, I don’t typically read nonfiction, but this was so entertaining. Being someone who met their significant other on a dating app (Bumble, in my case), I thought it would be really interesting to read the history of it all. I never really thought about that people used to do personal ads in the papers looking for spouses, and I certainly didn’t realize that there were still personal ads even in the 2000s. I guess being young, I wouldn’t have, but it was so fun to read.

Beauman has such a witty personality that really comes through in her writing. I enjoyed reading through her voice and thoughts about these people. Some of the ads were so funny, but also sincere and sweet. Others, not so much.

These ads have been posted for centuries. The oldest one with evidence of existence was way back in 1759!! Crazy. Each chapter features different people with various situations for either posting or responding to a personal ad for companionship. It was fun to literally follow these ads throughout time, dating from 1759 all the way to 2020. Obviously things look a bit different these days with the convenience of a smartphone. We all have Bumble, Tinder, Hinge, etc. at our fingertips. And thank God, because if it hadn’t been for Bumble, Ryan and I may have never met.

Basically, it all boils down to the fact that although interactions have looked different in the various time periods, it has always been for the same reason. We all want companionship, love, and happiness, however we need to obtain it.

It was such a good experience reading this book. Like I said, I literally never read nonfiction, but I’m so glad I agreed to review this one. Otherwise, I would have never known all the history and facts about dating and personal ads throughout the last few centuries.

Thank you so much to Wunderkind PR, Pegasus Books, and of course, the author herself, Francesca Beauman, for allowing me to read and review this book. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with it.

Please be sure to add this book to your TBRs on Goodreads, and be sure to pick up a copy tomorrow, October 6th, on the release day! To read more information about the book, check out the publisher’s site.

Author Contacts

Site | IG: @fransbookshop | Twitter: francescabeauma | Fran’s Book Shop

Thanks for reading! (:

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