Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Wives of Henry Oades

The Wives of Henry Oades. Johanna Moran. 2010. [February 2010] Random House. 384 pages.

A common bat on the other side of the world elects to sink its rabid fangs and one's cozy existence is finished. Margaret Oades knew her husband was up to something the moment he came through the door with a bottle of wine.

Historical fiction. 1890s.

Henry Oades faces a nearly impossible dilemma in Johanna Moran's The Wives of Henry Oades. Two women, Margaret and Nancy share his name, share a claim to being Mrs. Henry Oades. The first, Margaret, is mother of his children. When tragedy struck, he assumed the worst. The death of his wife. The death of his four children. But years later, after a successful move to America, he finds love again. He chooses to marry a widow woman with a newborn baby. He knows that she knows what it feels like to lose someone; he knows that she understands about tragic, unexpected loss. There's comfort in that somehow. But what Nancy doesn't know, what Henry doesn't know will change their lives forever. Because Margaret is not dead. After witnessing much, experiencing much at the hands of her captors, she finds freedom. She takes her children to freedom. But will this new freedom bring back love and peace and happiness? Will Margaret get her happily ever after?

Readers connect with this drama through several narrators. Margaret. Henry. Nancy. All three have something to say, something to share. Is it easy for readers to connect with all three narrators? Does one narrator deserve more sympathy than the others? Well, that's for each reader to decide.

There's tension in this one. And sometimes that tension isn't expressed clearly in the dialogue. (Though sometimes it is!) I think in some places the reader has to read between the lines. For example, when Margaret and Nancy first meet. When Margaret and the children first arrive in the Oades home. Wow! So much tension. Yet it isn't as dramatic as one might expect. If this was a soap opera, well, it would be very different.

I was curious about this one because I am a big fan of My Favorite Wife and Move Over Darling. Both movies feature a woman (a wife) coming back 'from the dead' and discovering that her husband has remarried. Though in both movies, the wife comes back on the wedding day itself. Then there is Twice Loved by LaVyrle Spencer which has a man coming back 'from the dead' to discover his wife has remarried.

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© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Tina's Blog said...

I have an ARC of this one sitting around...I have to get to it!

Author Amok said...

Becky -- hope you don't mind an early Poetry Friday comment!

I have an exciting announcement *and* "Portrait of Walt Whitman." It's an ekphrastic poem by Michael Salcman, one of his series about Eakins' portraits.

laurasalas said...

Hi Becky--Thanks for hosting the roundup today!

I have an original poem, I Sailed a Poem to the Grocery Store, at

And the 15 Words and Less Poems are up at Come enjoy them and add one of your own!


Sara said...

Becky, I'm going to go ahead and leave my link, and then check back for your PF post. Thanks for hosting!
I'm featuring two science poems today by Rebecca Holmes.

Diane Mayr said...

Hi Becky! Thanks for hosting. At Random Noodling I have an original haiga.

Kurious Kitty celebrates what would have been Jack Kerouac's 88th birthday, and Kurious K's Kwotes has a Kerouac quote about haiku.

Serena said...

I didn't enjoy this one as much as everyone else seemed to. I felt disconnected from Henry, and then suddenly he was a narrator. Thanks for the review.

I do agree there is a great deal of tension when Nancy and Margaret meet.