Andrea S. (Lafayette, IN)
Gripping telling of history
Inspired by a true but little known event, Johanna Moran tells the story of Henry Oades from the point of view of his two wives. The story takes you from England to New Zealand to Oakland in the 1890's. Moran used the historical incident as the basis for this novel, but had to fill in much of it with her own imagination. I really enjoyed this novel, reading it in less than 48 hours because I could only put it down to do unavoidable chores. The novel is very well written, with the characters believable and the narrative smooth.
This book would be a great book for book groups because of the legal and moral issues surrounding the incident, not to mention that it is just a fascinating story. If you are a fan of historical fiction, you will enjoy this!
Christine S. ( UT)
The subject of this novel was something I never would have believed, if I hadn't read that it really happened. The amazing strength of each of the main characters, Henry, Margaret and Nancy was to be congratulated. How awkward each of them must have felt. Somehow, they made it work by doing the right thing. The angry mob and judgmental attitudes of the general population appeared, unfortunately, realistic. An easy read and so very interesting.
Marie A. (Warner, NH)
Interesting But Not Riveting
I am a big fan of historical fiction; unfortunately this book did not hold my interest. I was anticipating a more interesting read because of the subject matter. One weakness I found was the underdeveloped, flat characters. Although the author conveyed the interrelationships of Margaret and Nancy, the children, and Henry, I often lacked empathy for the characters and their plight. Frequently, I found myself questioning some of their motives and reactions to certain situations. There were times when the characters hardly seemed real. In my opinion, another weakness was the brevity with which the author dealt with the actual bigamy court proceedings.
This historical fiction wasn't a page turner; all in all the novel was interesting but not riveting.
Mary Ann B. (Louisville, KY)
Until Death do us part
The Wives of Henry Oades is a thoughtful historical novel about good people caught up in heart breaking circumstances. You are caught up in the drama from the first page. The main characters are likable, and you find yourself thinking about the dilemma they each face. The book makes you sympathetic to each of them, and that isn't easy when bigamy is the subject. I enjoyed this book, and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys stories with intrigue, laughter, and joy.
Jan M. (Jenks, OK)
A no win situation
I really enjoyed this book. It was written in such a way that I "felt the pain" of all the major characters.
With this book, Ms. Moran has woven the basic facts from a court case into a tapestry of life's difficulties. Poor Henry Oades was in a no win situation with two legal wives. It was interesting to me to observe and compare the cruelty of the uncivilized Maori tribe who kidnapped the Oades family with the cruelty of the supposedly civilized citizens of Berkeley. The Maoris were physically cruel, but the unrelenting maliciousness of the community where Henry Oades lived was in many ways even worse. For Margaret Oades and her children to have survived captivity and the devastating news that their husband and father was now married to someone else spoke volumes about her strength and courage. I was impressed with the kindness and generosity to each other shown by both Nancy and Margaret Oades. They made a difficult situation tolerable by their concern for each other. A very interesting story with a satisfying ending - well done Johanna Moran.
Ruth (Tyrone, GA)
One Wife Too Many!
Well written story of family and female friendship. Strong characters and interesting story line work well. Great read!!
Arden A. Allen (Homosassa, FL)
A wonderfully written debut novel based on a true story
The year is 1890, and the Oades family travels from London to New Zealand, where Mr. Oades has accepted a new position. Traveling across oceans in 1890 with three children is a harrowing experience in and of itself, but just the tip of the iceberg of what this family endures over the next 20 years. Suffice to say, the events lead to a trusting, loyal husband and father, being accused and prosecuted for bigamy, as well as the family being ostracized by the community in which they live. But, what really impacted me most about this book was the relationship that developed between the two Mrs. Oades, one now in her 40s, having lived through, and having watched her children live through, more horrible and difficult experiences than one can imagine; and the other, a young widow with an infant, who not only willingly takes in her husband's first wife and his children, but is protective and supportive of them under the onslaught of the community and the law. Absolutely fascinating read. I look forward to other books by Johanna Moran.