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 expectedand 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 theyve both found happiness in the midst of their mourninguntil Henrys 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 familys story into an unforgettable page-turning drama.
31 BookBrowse readers reviewed The Wives of Henry Oades, with 27 of them rating it 4 or 5 stars.
Knowing that this story was based on true events, I just couldn't put the book down! It's absolutely unforgettable (Jean N). All of the characters are portrayed well - from the children to the minor characters (Anita S)... 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 (Andrea S). The moral quandary Henry, Nacy and Margaret find themselves in would surely elicit an interesting discussion (Laura K)... At times the emotions of the women are not explored deeply enough, particularly the first Mrs. Oades who has every reason to feel emotionally betrayed. Still, this is an incredible story that will be certain to elicit thought-provoking discussions long after the last page is finished (Jill S). (Reviewed by BookBrowse First Impression Reviewers).
Fresh and unusual …. A beguiling, promising debut.
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.
Intriguing and evocative …. A book group winner.
Meg Waite Clayton, author of the national bestseller The Wednesday Sisters
Equal parts love story and courtroom drama … a compelling story of good people caught in impossible circumstances.
Jamie Ford, bestselling author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
A historical saga seen through the lens of two wives, one husband, and the disapproving, cantankerous rabble at the end of Victorian America––a stellar debut novel.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by Betsy R. (Gig Harbor, WA) Great book I really loved this book. It is a unique blend of drama and historical research, which is incorporated well into the story. The women characters are particularly well-developed. I plan to recommend it to my book club when it is out in March.
Rated of 5
by Vy A. (Phoenix, The Wives of Henry Oades Based on a true story, taking place at the turn of the 20th Century in New Zealand and San Francisco, this book was difficult for me to put down because of the compelling characters and descriptive writing style, as well as an unbelievable series... Read More
Rated of 5
by Kat F. (Palatine, IL) Pleasant surprise after all The reason I asked to review this book was because the description was so intriguing. Then I received the book and based on the cover alone, thought I was in for a big disappointment. Turns out I was wrong. This is a great first novel. Taking... Read More
Rated of 5
by Marta M. (Tustin, CA) An enjoyable read I really enjoyed reading this book. It is a historical novel based on a true court case in California at the turn of the twentieth century. Many of the reviewers said that they wanted more fleshed out characters. I had to keep reminding myself... Read More
Rated of 5
by Laura K. (Middletown, NJ) The Wives of Henry Oades Very good historical fiction! The storyline and characters are well developed. I would recommend this book, especially for book groups. The moral quandary Henry, Nacy and Margaret find themselves in would surely elicit an interesting group... Read More
Rated of 5
by Pamela F. (Grants Pass, OR) The Wives of Henry Oades I love historical fiction. So this was a good book in my opinion. The characters were interesting, the plot is not something that I would normally come across, and although at the beginning I had a little trouble getting into it...it grabbed me and... Read More
The Story Behind the Story
(from Johanna Moran's website)
"More than a half-century ago, my father, a law professor, came across an abstract on the Oades case, and showed it to my mother, who was attempting to write short fiction in her nonexistent spare time. She was intrigued and gave thought to fleshing out the story, but that's as far as she got. She might have had three kids down with mumps that week or a spectacular birthday party to host. In any event, five children and writing never did mesh. My mother squirreled the abstract away, perhaps thinking she'd get to it eventually. She gave it to me about ten years ago. I was drawn in immediately and went from there."
About the Author
Johanna Moran worked as a flight attendant for seventeen years. She retired at the age of thirty-six, went back to school, and earned a degree in English Literature from the University of South Florida, Sarasota-Manatee. She completed two novels...
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