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I am Mrs. Jesse James

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  328 ratings  ·  50 reviews
A penny for a promise will change her life forever.

For Jesse James, the war will never be over. For Zee Mimms, the war is only the beginning.

The long, bloody Civil War is finally at an end when Zee Mimms, the dutiful daughter of a Missouri preacher, is tasked with nursing her cousin, Jesse James, back to health after he suffers a near-fatal wound. During Jesse's long conva
Kindle Edition, 316 pages
Published August 28th 2018 by Blank Slate Press
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Aug 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As a Central Illinoisan turned Missourian I have been surrounded by the tales of Jesse James my whole life. He's the handsome soldier-turned outlaw on a mission, who slipped through the fingers of law enforcement as he continued to fight for the Confederacy during Reconstruction. He was a hero to some, a villain to most, and has become a Missouri legend. But I didn't know anything about the quieter part of his life. He was also a husband and a father. And he had to be hard to love. The heroine o ...more
Excellent Historical Fiction based on the life of Jesse James and his first cousin, Zerelda Mimms, who eventually became his wife.

Kearney Missouri 1882 - Jesse has been shot and killed. Zerelda is a widow. The story in this book is her remembrance of falling in love with and marrying her cousin, Jesse James.

They became close when Jesse, with a bullet in his lung, came to the Mimms boarding house to recover. Zerelda nursed him back to health and fell in love.

It was quite some time before they go
Audra (Unabridged Chick)
I won this book in a giveaway and had been meaning to read it as soon as it arrived; and then my wife broke her ankle and we moved and I hadn't unpacked this book until a few weeks ago. It was a perfect read for both of my reading challenges this year -- Historical Fiction and Read Harder's challenge 9, "a book published prior to January 1, 2019, with fewer than 100 reviews on Goodreads".

I will confess to some apprehension ahead of starting this book, though. In this current political climate, i
Karen Sargent
Feb 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my favorite things about this book is the title, I AM MRS. JESSE JAMES, because for most of Zee’s married life, saying those words aloud could mean death for her husband who was constantly in hiding, which also meant she lived a life of great sacrifice to protect the man she loved. It’s a poignant point in the story when Zee finally, and proudly, announces her true identity. The story of Jesse James through his wife’s perspective reveals a man who is much more than an outlaw. I enjoy seei ...more
Ruth Chatlien
Feb 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A well-written story about the woman who loved and married Jesse James. Zee is a strong independent character, but she doesn't feeling anachronistically modern. The time and place is well drawn. Pat Wahler successfully shows us why Jesse James believed that he had to act as she did—and the terrible price his wife and children had to pay for his choices. ...more
Julia Bricklin
Sep 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love it when an author who writes history -- whether it be nonfiction or a novel -- is also an expert researcher. Wahler clearly spent years combing through the "usual sources" of the Jesse James extended family, but also, the day-to-day lives of not-so-notorious families and individuals whose lives were changed forever by the outbreak of the Civil War. At times, I thought I could actually smell the dust and flowers and sensuality and despair in the life of Zerelda James and her family. Wahler ...more
Lisa Claro
Oct 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you know your American history, then you know how Pat Wahler’s well-researched novel, I am Mrs. Jesse James, is likely to end. She does not play fast and loose with dates and details but employs her fine writing skills to weave these recorded events and truths into a story that is, at its core, a tapestry constructed of creative license—and what a rich tapestry it is. Ms. Wahler’s interpretation of Zerelda “Zee” Mimms James is poignant and believable as she takes us from the start of Zee and ...more
Sep 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Zee Mimms grew up in the Missouri countryside. She is an obedient and helpful daughter to her parents who run a boarding house, dutiful in every way except allowing her parents to arrange a marriage for her. During the Civil War, Missouri was split between neighbors, Confederate and Union sympathizers were neighbors and friends. Zee's family, the James' felt deeply for the Confederate cause and her cousins, Jesse and Frank fought bravely for what they believed in. After the war, Jesse was badly ...more
Jan 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am so glad I read this book! It's a great read and I couldn't put it down. It's been a while since I've read a book in a day, but this one had me at page 1. Such a fascinating story about Mrs. Jesse James. I'd never really thought about what it would be like to be married to someone of his notoriety. Here she was a regular young woman of the era who happens to fall in love with an outlaw, such a treat to find a book that tells you exactly how it must have been. Just when I think she must be we ...more
Jan 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
What I knew about Jesse James I knew because of childhood visits to the roadside museum in Stanton, Missouri. Traveling along the interstate, we would often stop at the tiny museum. My most vivid memory is the story of how James's mother was maimed in an explosion during a raid on the family farm.

Reading I am Mrs. Jesse James put Zerelda Mimms James first on the list of significant women in Jesse James's life, illuminating the interior life of a woman who chose to spurn her family's opinions and
Mar 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great read! I had a hard time putting this one down.

The history is great. It's told completely from the viewpoint of Mrs. Jesse James. Her fears, her love, her triumphs, her victories. Most of all, the great love she had for her husband, who never showed her the outlaw side of him.

Zee grew up with Jesse. They were first cousins. Jesse fought in the civil war, he was wounded critically. Since the war was finally over, he was taken to Zee's house to recover. She nursed him back to health, and the
Nina Romano
Jan 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is solid writing, although the author's beginning was slow and measured. The action doesn’t start until one-third of the book, but it’s worth sticking with it to see Pat Wahler's imaginings bring to life Zee Mimms, Jesse James’ cousin. Zee cares for Jesse when he’s wounded and nine years later becomes his wife. There are several surprising yet realistic scenes two-thirds into the novel, which make the reader understand the difficult path this woman chose in marrying an outlaw. Having grown ...more
Jan 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am Mrs Jesse James was a great read. I would love to read more like this one by Pat Wahler in the future. I give this one five stars.
S. Marie
Dec 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Jesse James, a Baptist preacher’s son, Federalist hater, Confederate guerilla during the Civil War and later a member of the Bushwhackers with an axe to grind. Jesse grew up without a father. His father died in a gold mining camp in California leaving the family of four in dire financial straits. Perhaps that’s why Jesse was so angry? Nevertheless, Jesse has a bit of a soft side in this novel. He marries Zerelda “Zee” Mimms (ironically, she is named after Jesse’s mother); Zee, being his cousin, ...more
Jan 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting and well written.
Helen Hollick
Jun 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book has received a Discovering Diamonds Review:
Helen Hollick
founder #DDRevs

"The everyday details of life in the years following the civil war were expertly drawn, and I learned a lot."
I think everyone knows the story of Jesse James. He's the wild outlaw known for robbing banks, trains and all of that. Lived fast, died young. (Seriously, he was in his thirties when he died.) But few seem to know that he was also a husband and a father. Two things that one wouldn't necessarily equate with an outlaw since they live their life on the run, but well, Zee Mimms and he fell in love as he convalesced from a wound, which proved to be near fatal. She was his first cousin and though her ...more
Amanda Hagerty
Jan 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kindle, favorites
I just finished this book 5.5 stars. I was going to wait to get my thoughts together for my review and thoughts. But I haven't seen really anyone talk about this book on booktube or on instagram. I being from Missouri loved to read about the history of where I am come from. The amazing people before me. This book gave me every kind of feelings that I am not sure what next book could live up to what I just read. 2019 started off amazing with this book. Okay now that I have talked so much how I lo ...more
Lonnie Whitaker
Nov 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am Mrs. Jessie James does not read like a debut novel. Author Pat Wahler is a pro. She takes on the formidable task of writing a historical fiction novel featuring the wife of, perhaps, the most famous outlaw of the American West. The challenge is complicated by being written as a first-person narrative. But, supported by Wahler’s solid research and perception, the result is engaging and credible.
Wahler provides insight to some obvious questions. How did the relationship between Zerelda (Zee)
Jeanne Felfe
Sep 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I reviewed an ARC copy of this novel and this is my honest review.

I don't read a lot of historical fiction, but when I do I want the fact portion of the story to be accurate. Ms. Wahler did an amazing job of researching the history behind the notorious Jesse James and his wife, Zee. She wove those details into her imagined love story to present such a compelling story that I had to look up Zee James to learn more. Only there wasn't "more" to learn as Ms. Wahler included everything fact one could
Kathleen Lask
May 01, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“I Am Mrs. Jesse James” by Pat Wahler is a fascinating story of the woman who marries the notorious Jesse James. Although I grew up in CT, I had read stories about Jesse James and his audacious bank robberies and the many people he killed, but I had never thought about him having a wife and family. The novel is very well researched and offers insight into the man through the eyes of his first cousin Zerelda Mimms, known as Zee, who eventually becomes his wife and the mother of his children. Jess ...more
Amy Reade
Aug 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book.

I had a hard time putting this book down for things like meals and sleeping. It is one of the best books of historical fiction that I've read. It tells the story of Zee James, as much as possible from the scant materials written about the wife of the infamous outlaw Jesse James. Where the historical record was too thin, the author supplemented realistic and highly likely scenarios based on her extensive research and knowledge of the time period and the real-life characters. Eve
Elizabeth Eckert
I absolutely loved this book! Zee is a perfectly fleshed out character who captivated me easily. I felt her emotions including the blind love, tentacles of doubt, fears, passions and loss. The author took the story of the infamous Jesse James and retold the story through Zee, his wife. She took the facts and assumptions about James and weaved an amazing fictional story. The novel is not fast-paced in terms of action though that is not what its meant to be. The joy from this novel comes from the ...more
May 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Always love a historical novel (based on the life of Jesse James wife's life) where I learned some important history. A fascinating story told in 'first person' which makes one become more involved in the main character's thoughts, feelings, and life's events. Once begun, it is difficult to put down a time in history when loyalty and dedication to a person or event is an all encompassing factor. Depicted the hardships on women in that era which was a common factor, based on Zee's life of constan ...more
Douglas Osgood
Sep 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The powerful and emotional story of the woman who married the notorious outlaw, Jesse James. After nursing a wounded Jesse back to health, Zee pledged her love to the man that later became her husband, against the wishes of her mother. In spite of the man's many misdeeds, frequent moves that upended her and her children's lives, she never stopped living Jesse. Wahler has done a marvellous job of humanizing James and the woman who loved him. The narrative grabbed me by the shirt and dragged me qu ...more
Sep 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and think the author did a really well done job in telling the story of Jesse's wife and children. All too often in today's world the lives of criminals and their families are splashed willy nilly all over social media almost as quickly as their real lives are happening. This author was able to communicate what that family life might have been like for the wife of a criminal and just how easily the wife can reconcile her love for the man with the deeds he has done. ...more
Tricia Sanders
Dec 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. I know it's fictionalized, but the author had me right there in Zee's shoes as she navigates what it must have been like to live with a notorious outlaw and the love of her life. I am impressed with the amount of research and care that went into this book. I love how the fictional part of the story was woven into the actual history of Jesse James. A very seamless story with the appropriate gut-wrenching moments that Zee must have faced. Great job and looking forward to more fr ...more
Cathy of the clan Ambrose
Historical Novel, Heavy on the Fiction

I struggled with this story. At a time when society is awakening to the racist traditions still holding strong in be south, this story seems to try to vindicate the South’s history. It left me sorry that I was obliged to finish because it was a book club read. I found irony though in the cries of James’ mother and widowed wife of the murderers who took away their loved one with no care to consider others who had lived the same path as victims’ of Jesse. At l
Regina A Fontaine
May 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I am impressed.......

Never new the outlaw was even married or had children, seems like Jesse was restless after the war and needed to blame someone, but where the bank robbing came in we will never know. I almost feel bad for Zee, but she did know Jesse's lifestyle before she married him. I do believe he didn't deserve to die that way especially with his children at home. Good read, would recommend.
Heather Singell
Jan 24, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am Mrs. Jesse James, by Pat Wahler, is an insightful look into the uncertain times after the Civil War in Missouri. It follows the relationship and struggles of Zee and Jesse, along with those of their close family. I learned of this book through my local library as part of their Winter Reading Program. This year's theme is Missouri's bicentennial, so this title fits the bill perfectly.
Zee Mimms falls for the young and charismatic Jesse after the war has come to an end. She quickly finds out
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Pat Wahler is an award-winning writer of historical fiction, romance, and creative nonfiction. Her work has appeared in sixteen Chicken Soup for the Soul books, Sasee Magazine, Storyteller Magazine, Reader's Digest, and many other publications. She is the winner of Western Fictioneers' Best First Novel of 2018 and the Walter Williams Special Award for Literary Merit.

Pat is a Missouri native and a

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