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The Wives of Henry Oades


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About the Author

Johanna Moran lives in Florida with her husband, John. She has travelled extensively, working as a Pan Am stewardess, and has visited all the places mentioned in this book. She first came across this story through her father, a professor of law. The Wives of Henry Oades is her first book.


When Henry Oades is posted to New Zealand in 1890, he considers the move a chance for adventure. Content with life in London, Margaret reluctantly accompanies him with their children. When their isolated cottage is attacked by the Maori, Margaret and the children are abducted and presumed dead. Fleeing from his memories, Henry resettles in California, where he marries Nancy, a young widow with a baby. Six years later, Margaret and her children, having finally escaped captivity, arrive at Henry's Berkeley farm. Weathering threats, harassment, and lawsuits, Nancy and Margaret slowly develop a supportive relationship that enables their blended family to survive. Verdict Told mainly from the wives' perspectives, the story hinges on readers' empathy with their unusual predicament. Other characters are somewhat flat. Even unflappable Henry remains a bit of an enigma. Still, Moran's debut, based on the true case of Henry Oades, acquitted of bigamy three times, will intrigue historical fiction fans and provide plenty of discussion points for book clubs.-Kathy Piehl, Minnesota State Univ. Lib., Mankato Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

' comical as it is poignant.' Daily Mail'Johanna Moran's fine first novel is a fascinating story...Moran is a careful writer, a spare stylist who never wastes a word. She also has a well-tuned ear for the jargon of the period, colorful language that adds warmth, humor, and humanity to her story.' Boston Globe'Moran's opening chapters intrigue and mesmerize...In her evocative descriptions of sadness and relief, Moran successfully captures this family's particular tribulations.' Glasgow Herald'A beguiling, promising debut. Serious, sometimes horrific developments are lightened by touches of understated, salty wit in Moran's fact-based historical, a fresh and unusual story.' Kirkus Reviews'Intriguing and evocative...It's Margaret surviving the wilderness, Nancy overcoming grief and the two women bonding that give this book its heart and should make this a book group winner.' Publishers Weekly'Equal parts love story and courtroom drama, Johanna Moran's "The Wives of Henry Oades" is a compelling story of good people caught in impossible circumstances, and a community that rushes to judge rather than to understand.' Meg Waite Clayton, author of the bestseller "The Wednesday Sisters"'A stellar debut novel. A delicious and painful tale of marriage, suffering, tolerance and sacrifice - a historical saga seen through the lens of two wives, one husband, and the disapproving, cantankerous rabble at the end of Victorian America.' Jamie Ford, bestselling author of "Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet"

An English accountant and his two wives are the subject of this intriguing and evocative debut novel based on a real-life 19th-century California bigamy case. A loving husband and attentive father, Henry Oades assures his wife, Margaret, that his posting to New Zealand will be temporary and the family makes the difficult journey. But during a Maori uprising, Margaret and her four children are kidnapped and the Oades's house is torched. Convinced his family is dead, Henry relocates to California and marries Nancy, a sad 20-year-old pregnant widow. When Margaret and the children escape, eventually making their way to California and Henry's doorstep, he does the decent thing by being a husband to both wives and father to all their offspring, a situation deemed indecent by the Berkeley Daughters of Decency. Moran presents Henry's story as if making a case in court, facts methodically revealed with just enough detail for the reader to form an independent opinion. But it's Margaret surviving the wilderness, Nancy overcoming grief and the two women bonding that give the book its heart and should make this a book group winner. (Mar.) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

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