The Half Wives: Book summary and reviews of The Half Wives by Stacia Pelletier

The Half Wives

by Stacia Pelletier

The Half Wives by Stacia Pelletier X
The Half Wives by Stacia Pelletier
Buy This Book

About this book

Book Summary

Over the course of one momentous day, two women who have built their lives around the same man find themselves moving toward an inevitable reckoning.

Former Lutheran minister Henry Plageman is a master secret keeper and a man wracked by grief. He and his wife, Marilyn, tragically lost their young son, Jack, many years ago. But he now has another child - a daughter, eight-year-old Blue - with Lucy, the woman he fell in love with after his marriage collapsed. 

The Half Wives follows these interconnected characters on May 22, 1897, the anniversary of Jack's birth. Marilyn distracts herself with charity work at an orphanage. Henry needs to wrangle his way out of the police station, where he has spent the night for disorderly conduct. Lucy must rescue and rein in the intrepid Blue, who has fallen in a saltwater well. But before long, these four will all be drawn on this day to the same destination: to the city cemetery on the outskirts of San Francisco, to the grave that means so much to all of them. The collision of lives and secrets that follows will leave no one unaltered.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Reviews

Media Reviews

"Pelletier keeps readers hooked right up to the book's satisfying conclusion." - Publishers Weekly

"While the four-person narrative style gives us various perspectives and allows insight into the characters' denial of their situation, it ultimately limits development of their personalities. Best for readers interested in San Francisco and Richmond district history." - Library Journal

"Well-crafted characters struggling alone with shared grief furnishes a coursing river on which this intriguing story effortlessly flows. Tough to put down." - Kirkus

"The Half Wives is a profoundly hypnotic and mesmerizing work. The characters do not capture you as much as claim you, as the writing - languid, heartbreaking, and hopeful - pulls you deep into their world. The backdrop of Old San Francisco comes gloriously alive, as though the mist of the city itself rose from every page." - Kathy Hepinstall, author of Blue Asylum and others

"Stacia Pelletier's The Half Wives is set in the past, but it is a story for any time: a poignant, sometimes heart-rending, beautifully crafted, always gripping tale of loss and love, and the human need to try to set things right. A great read." - Kevin Baker, author of The Big Crowd

This information about The Half Wives was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

Reader Reviews

Write your own review

Sonja J. (Tupelo, MS)

Worth the time!
A wonderful story set in a very specific area of San Francisco on one day in 1897. The narrative holds your interest, the characters frustrate and delight, and the prose is elegant. Who would think that basing one of the novel's themes on a municipal action to move city cemeteries to new locations would elicit such a beautiful and often heart wrenching tale? Stacey Pelletier did and does so with great finesse.

Yvonne K. (Magnolia, TX)

Stunning
There are so many great lines in this book that put you in the shoes and the emotions of the characters. What is even more stunning is how it accomplished over the course of one day.

This novel would make a great book club selection. It encompasses so many layers of loss.

Barbara B. (Holbrook, NY)

The Half Wives by Stacia Pelletier
Between tears, as there is much sadness and grief in the story, the writing is so beautiful and the time in our history is described so precisely one feels like you are there. Regardless of the theme of grief and loss, this is a beautiful novel which does have an ending that is uplifting. I highly recommend it and intend to read the author's previous novel.

Beverly S. (Chesterton, IN)

A Day in the Lives of the Half Wives
I was interested in reading this book because the story involved parents dealing with the loss of their child.
A couple suffers the loss of their two year old son. The father is a minister and the mother is a stay at home mom. The book covers the events as they unfold on a single day many years later, on the anniversary of their son's death. There are a few other characters introduced as the day progresses from 9 am until 3 pm.
Stacia Pelletier, the author, develops each character very carefully and their personalities spoke to me directly as i read their story. I liked her style of writing and I would be interested in reading other books by this gifted author.

Sonia F. (freehold, NJ)

the half wives
A stellar of a novel narrated in third person omniscient in the most profound voice of calm, truthfulness and forcing these characters to look themselves in the mirror.

The narrator's chastising voice moves the story along that the reader immediately judges the characters by their actions and not their words.
A haunting tale of two women in waiting for the same man, albeit an ex preacher and a child called Blue who wants nothing else but to be able to love freely her ma and pa.

A great read for book clubs to engage in and give voice, character development and reason as to why these characters are stuck in time, each with their own personal grief. grief that is separate, but intertwined.

Beth B. (New Wilmington, PA)

The Half Wives by Stacia Pelletier
This novel is magnificent! You would have to be heartless to not love this book. Proof of my admiration for the author's skills is evidenced by many notes and turned-down corners -- sentences that demonstrate wisdom, poignancy, and well chosen words. Although set in 1897 San Francisco, this is so much more than a historical novel; it explores love, both gained and lost, the importance of truthful communication in a relationship, second chances, the many forms love takes, surviving grief, and moment-to-moment coping.

I am grateful to have received this book to review. I want to meet and have conversation with its gifted author.

...19 more reader reviews

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Author Information

Stacia Pelletier

Stacia Pelletier is the author of Accidents of Providence, which was short-listed for the Townsend Prize in Fiction, and the forthcoming The Half Wives. She earned graduate degrees in religion and historical theology from Emory University in Atlanta. A two-time fellow of the Hambidge Center, located in the mountains of North Georgia, she currently lives in Decatur, Georgia, and works at Emory University's School of Medicine.

More Author Information

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

More Recommendations

Readers Also Browsed . . .

more historical fiction...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Join BookBrowse

and discover exceptional books
for just $3.75 per month.

Find out more


Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: If I Survive You
    If I Survive You
    by Jonathan Escoffery
    In If I Survive You, author Jonathan Escoffery portrays a family falling apart with grace. Main ...
  • Book Jacket: Stories from the Tenants Downstairs
    Stories from the Tenants Downstairs
    by Sidik Fofana
    'Everybody got a story, everybody got a tale / Question is: Is it despair or prevail?' ...
  • Book Jacket: Fire Season
    Fire Season
    by Leyna Krow
    Fire Season is a thoroughly enjoyable novel that touches upon multiple genres and themes. It ...
  • Book Jacket: The Story of Russia
    The Story of Russia
    by Orlando Figes
    In The Story of Russia, British historian and writer Orlando Figes shares panoramic and ...

Book Club Discussion

Book Jacket
The Ways We Hide
by Kristina McMorris
From the bestselling author of Sold On A Monday, a sweeping tale of an illusionist recruited by British intelligence in World War II.

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Natural History
    by Andrea Barrett

    A masterful new collection of interconnected stories, from the renowned National Book Award–winning author.

Book Club Giveaway!
Win A Minor Chorus

A Minor Chorus

A debut novel from a rising literary star that brings the modern queer and Indigenous experience into sharp relief.

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

Y Can't G H A

and be entered to win..

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.