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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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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.
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 of horrific events which occur to a loving family. It proves that truth is indeed stranger than fiction. For example, what would you do if the wife and children of the man you married showed up on the doorstep, years after all thought they were dead? How this situation plays out keeps the reader turning the pages and the result is a testimonial to the power of love and to the compassion of two extraordinary women. I recommend it highly.
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 historical facts, the author wrote a riveting novel from the perspective of both wives. I couldn’t stop reading it. Although the ending was a bit flat and abrupt, overall I greatly enjoyed this book and will recommend it to others. Maybe the cover art could be changed?
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 that in those days people didn't express their emotions as much as they do today. That they accepted what happened to them, and much of what they did do was to please society. They made the best of every situation and didn't feel as sorry for themselves as we do today. This is evident by Margaret's acceptance of the situation. In today's world one of the wives would have been divorced, but in those days that would have made the children illegitimate. That would mean that they may not be employed or have opportunities in later life. That makes a good reason not to have either marriage annulled. It made me feel fortunate to be living now. Nowadays, this would have made front page news and they all would have had family counseling. They would have been interviewed by Oprah and there would be outpouring of support. I really enjoyed reading this book and will recommend it to all of my friends.
Irene M. (Ashland, OR)

The Two Wives of Henry Oades
This was a very enjoyable book. The prose was simple, but well-written. I especially liked the fact that it was based on a true story. The characters were well-developed and I certainly could relate to the feelings and responses of the three main characters. I look forward to more books by this author.
Anita S. (BOYNTON BEACH, FL)

Life, love and polygamy
What a story!! This book is a page turner. Because it is a fictionalized account of an actual incident, the story and characters become real to the reader. I particularly liked that the events were told from the viewpoint of the wives. Their emotions, actions and story made this book come alive. I'm certain that the author researched not only the history of the incident, but also all aspects of the time and place where it all occurred. This, to me, made the book extremely interesting. I loved the way she portrayed the wives as opposite personalities - one strong, the other weak. All the characters were portrayed well - from the children to the minor characters. I really loved this book. It will make a great selection for book clubs.
Jean N. (New Richmond, OH)

The Wives of Henry Oades
This is an excellent book that I would very highly recommend! The author portrayed the two wives and the husband in such a way that I could see each one, their situations, viewpoints and feelings very clearly. I really felt for these people. Knowing that this story was based on true events, I just couldn't put the book down!
This is a book that is absolutely unforgettable!
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!

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