The Wives of Henry Oades: A Novel by Johanna Moran
Ballantine Books; Original edition (February 9, 2010)
Synopsis from the Author's Website: The Wives of Henry Oades is inspired by a controversial court case. In the late 19th century, Henry and Margaret Oades emigrate from England to New Zealand. There, Margaret and her children are abducted by Maori and eventually given up for dead. Grief stricken, Henry sails to California, where, many years later, he marries a young widow, Nancy Foreland. When Margaret and her surviving children show up on their doorstep, Henry and Nancy take them in, and all attempt to adapt. Berkeley townspeople rise up against the apparent debauched arrangement. Henry is charged with bigamy, a crime punishable by hanging. As their legal troubles mount, Margaret and Nancy find themselves allying in ways neither could have predicted. The story at heart is theirs. Readers will probably take sides, and will no doubt be divided. Both women have a rightful, lawful stake.
I enjoyed The Wives of Henry Oades and was pleased by Moran's writing style. The description of the abduction was quite gripping and I found myself breathless. As a wife and mother, I couldn't help but picture myself in a similar situation - what would I do? how would I feel? would I be strong enough?
The story flowed very quickly for me, and for that reason I felt like I would have been willing to spend more time with the book in order to get a little bit more explanation on some of the characters. Once Margaret was able to return to Henry, I felt as if some of the relationships and interactions were only explored on the surface. The pain of the strange living arrangements, the ostracism by the community, and the threat punishment for the crime of bigamy would put enormous strain on a family and the individuals within it.
In all, I think that this was an very good debut novel by Johanna Moran. I am looking forward to future releases.
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