Published by: Ballantine Books
Published on: February 2010
Page Count: 384
Genre: Historical Fiction
Format: ARC snagged through LibraryThing’s Early Reviewer program
Availability: paperback and eBook
Today it is my great pleasure to be Johanna Moran’s host on her TLC Book Tour for her novel, The Wives of Henry Oades. I would like to thank LibraryThing and her publisher for sending me a review copy. I would also like to thank Random House for a copy to giveaway on this blog! Please see the end of my review for a list of the blogs who are on this tour with me.
I have a lot of fun working as a tour host for TLC Book Tours. They always have great books and authors on tour. Check out their website for more information on this tour and the others that they are hosting.
During the late 19th century, Henry Oades was looking to get ahead in his career and make an even better life for his family when he agreed to take a position that required he move his family from England to a much less civilized New Zealand. His wife Meg didn’t really want to leave her family, but supported her husband because it would only be for a few years. What neither of them anticipated was the hostility between white settlers and the native Maori increasing after their arrival. One evening, in revenge of a Maori beating, Henry’s family is kidnapped while he is away at work. From there begins a heart wrenching nightmare almost beyond comprehension. After holding out hope longer than most people felt sane, Henry eventually leaves New Zealand for America. In San Fransisco, he discovers a love for farming and eventually falls in love with a young widow. Shorty after Henry and Nancy marry, Meg brings her family out of captivity. When Henry and his first family reunite, a struggle of a much different kind begins.
When I saw information about The Wives of Henry Oades while reviewing the list of Early Reviewer books last year, I knew it was one that I’d have to read. I could not imagine what it would be like to be in Henry Oades’ shoes. He believed he had lost his entire family and it was only reluctantly that he set off to start his life over again. Just when he found purpose and contentment, he learns that his original family was alive and well. What would you do? Worse yet, what would or could a woman in the late 19th century do if she was given up for dead and her husband remarried? What would or could a young widow with a small baby do when her new husband’s dead wife shows up on her doorstep. I was so thrilled to learn that I had snagged it because I was going to be able to find out.
This book was a perfect match for me. I love that it was told mainly through the voices of Meg and Nancy, Henry’s two wives. I was intrigued from the very first when Meg and Henry set off to New Zealand and I didn’t want to put the book down until it was finished. Some parts were difficult to read, especially the scenes of the kidnapping and the direct aftermath, but I could not stop reading. I also found it interesting how Berkeley society, now seen as such a liberal, accepting place, could not see the difference between purposeful bigamy and an accident of fate that fell upon both halves of Henry’s family. The community was too busy titillating themselves with what might be happening behind the Oades’ doors to take take stock of what really did.
The Wives of Henry Oades was inspired by a legal extract about the Oades case that Moran’s father brought home to her mother. What an interesting launching pad of a novel. I enjoyed it all the way through. I do have one lingering question about a decision Henry makes along the way, but mentioning that here would give too much of the story away. My question aside, there would be an evening’s worth of topics to discuss after reading this novel. It would also be interesting to read this novel and The 19th Wife back to back and discuss the impact of bigamy on the women involved during the 19th century. I highly recommend this novel. There are so many ways to look at this novel and the events it brings to life. I would love to hear what you think.
I am excited to offer one lucky reader an opportunity to win a copy of this novel from the publisher. To enter, leave a comment to this post with your thoughts about how bigamy impacts the women involved. There is so much to say about it. As much as I could never see myself coping well with that kind of living arrangement, I wonder how much cleaner my house would be if I had a sister wife around here…
This giveaway will be open for entries until Thursday, March 18 at 11:59 EST. I will use the wonderful Randomizer to select the winner and will make the announcement soon thereafter.
Check out Johanna Moran’s other TLC Book Tours Tour Stops:
Monday, February 15th: Luxury Reading
Wednesday, February 17th: Book Club Classics!
Thursday, February 18th: My Friend Amy
Friday, February 19th: Beth Fish Reads author guest post
Monday, February 22nd: Jenn’s Bookshelves
Tuesday, February 23rd: The 3 R’s Blog
Thursday, February 25th: It’s All About Books
Friday, February 26th: Thoughts of an Evil Overlord
Monday, March 1st: Rundpinne
Tuesday, March 2nd: Peeking Between the Pages
Wednesday, March 3rd: A High and Hidden Place
Friday, March 5th: Stephanie’s Confessions of a Book-aholic
Monday, March 8th: Bibliofreak
Tuesday, March 9th: A Lifetime of Books
Wednesday, March 10th: Starting Fresh
Thursday, March 11th: Savvy Verse and Wit
Monday, March 15th: The Calico Critic