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The Wives of Henry Oades

A Novel

by Johanna Moran

The Wives of Henry Oades by Johanna Moran X
The Wives of Henry Oades by Johanna Moran
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    Feb 2010, 384 pages

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There are currently 31 reader reviews for The Wives of Henry Oades
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Marie A. (Warner, NH) (12/05/09)

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.
Ruth (Tyrone, GA) (12/04/09)

One Wife Too Many!
Well written story of family and female friendship. Strong characters and interesting story line work well. Great read!!
Jan M. (Jenks, OK) (12/04/09)

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.
Mary Ann B. (Louisville, KY) (12/04/09)

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.
Elyse G. (Creswell, OR) (12/03/09)

Mediocre Read
"Wives" is an interesting and different story, and all the more intriguing being based on real people.

Unfortunately, I found the writing to be just average - no memorable passages here- and the characters somewhat one dimensional. There is very little range of emotion shown, and motives aren't always clear. We don't really get to know the characters very well, beyond their devotion to one another.

There are some interesting dramas in the story, the abduction, the search, the trials for bigamy. But all were merely sketched out. I would have liked more about the family's life with the Maori, for instance. And the end was a let down - everything is resolved, but it ended abruptly as if in the middle of a paragraph.

This is a book I might suggest picking up at a used book sale or borrowing from your library, but certainly not one I would pay $5 or more for.
Arden A. Allen (Homosassa, FL) (12/03/09)

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.
Erica L. (Plaistow, New Hampshire) (12/02/09)

A Great Book Club Pick
My first thought while reading this book was that it would make a GREAT book club pick. There are so many different points that would make for great discussion. What would you do in each of the characters shoes? I thought the characters were well developed, but I was left wanting more. I feel as if it could have been a little longer exploring in more detail the feelings of not only the two Mrs. Oades, but those of Henry. Overall a good read.
Linda G., Manager, Lafayette Book Store, CA (12/02/09)

A Different Kind of Family
I manage an independent book store in the San Francisco Bay Area, so I was especially interested in the local history in "The Wives of Henry Oades". Based on the cover, I thought it might be a little too 'flowery' for me, but I wanted to make sure I read it because of the interest my customers might have. I was very much impressed with this historical debut novel. The storyline was smooth, flowed nicely and was very readable. However, it was actually the well-developed characters, and the authors' ability to put you right in their place, actually feeling their feelings, while experiencing with them this moral dilemma they found themselves in.
The two Mrs. Oades' were both portrayed as wonderful women, strong in their own way as they struggled together to endure the persecution of themselves and their families by the surrounding community. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about their growing respect and love for each other, and for each others children. Henry, Mr. Oades, was a very likable man who just wanted so much to please everyone involved. The courtroom scenes in the novel, made it nearly impossible to put down!
This will be an EXCELLENT book club choice! I can't wait to start recommending it.

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