Title: The Wives of Henry Oades
Author: Johanna Moran
Publisher: Ballantine Books (2010)
Genre: Historical Fiction
Book Source: ARC from Publisher
Publisher Book Summary:
When Henry Oades accepts an accountancy post in New Zealand, his wife, Margaret, and their children follow him to exotic Wellington. But while Henry is an adventurer, Margaret is not. Their new home is rougher and more rustic than they expected—and a single night of tragedy shatters the family when the native Maori stage an uprising, kidnapping Margaret and her children.
For months, Henry scours the surrounding wilderness, until all hope is lost and his wife and children are presumed dead. Grief-stricken, he books passage to California. There he marries Nancy Foreland, a young widow with a new baby, and it seems they’ve both found happiness in the midst of their mourning—until Henry’s first wife and children show up, alive and having finally escaped captivity.
Narrated primarily by the two wives, and based on a real-life legal case, The Wives of Henry Oades is the riveting story of what happens when Henry, Margaret, and Nancy face persecution for bigamy. Exploring the intricacies of marriage, the construction of family, the changing world of the late 1800s, and the strength of two remarkable women, Johanna Moran turns this unusual family’s story into an unforgettable page-turning drama.
This is an extraordinary story that is based on true life events. I found that it kept my interest throughout. The writing style felt like a detailed factual description of events without too much sensational or emotional language. I like how Johanna Moran treated the subject in this way because the basic facts of the story have enough substance to then as is. Moran has taken the facts of a legal case and imagined all the details of the characters and their settings. It sparks interesting questions about marriage, family, morals and the role of women in the time period (late 1800's). The Wives of Henry Oades is essentially about good people caught in impossible circumstances, forced to grapple with the harsh realities of survival.
"A common bat on the other side of the world elects to sink its rabid fangs, and one's cozy existence is finished." (p.3)
14 hours ago