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The Second Mrs. Hockaday

by Susan Rivers

The Second Mrs. Hockaday by Susan Rivers X
The Second Mrs. Hockaday by Susan Rivers
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  • First Published:
    Jan 2017, 272 pages
    Paperback:
    Nov 2017, 288 pages

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There are currently 25 reader reviews for The Second Mrs. Hockaday
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Kathryn S. (St. Helena Island, SC)

The Second Mrs. Hockaday
The format of this novel, which consists entirely of letters, journal entries and legal documents, immerses the reader in a mystery involving three generations of a South Carolina family, before, during and after the Civil War. The story - which unfolds slowly (building suspense) and not always in chronological order- is told from the perspective of the protagonist, Placidia Hockaday and various members of her family. I found this a captivating book, one that I could not put down until I finished it. I will recommend this book to my Book Club and also to family members/friends who have a particular interest in the Civil War era.
Power Reviewer
Betty Taylor

Survival on the Cival War Homefront
Using the epistolary technique, this story is told through letters and diary entries. It worked well although I did have to frequently jump to the end of the letter to see who the letter was from. The time line also was a bit confusing at times – letters written between 1863 – 1865 jumping back and forth – then forward to 1892 interspersed with diary entries from 1864. But it really did not distract from the story.
As their husbands went off to war, wives were left behind to tend to the crops and livestock. But Union troops (and men dressed as troops) took food and livestock from them, not caring how the families were to survive. Slaves were leaving as the opportunity presented itself. Newly-wed Placidia barely knew her husband when he left her to tend their huge farm and his young son from his previous marriage. This was not a marriage of convenience as they seemed to truly love each other.
But two years later when Major Hockaday returns home, he finds that Placidia has been arrested for killing her newborn child, a child that definitely was not his. Can he forgive his love for whatever happened while he was away? And what did happen? Can she be honest with him? Can their love survive?
Placidia had to make many critical decisions on her own. Was she an irresponsible teenager? Or wise beyond her years? Did the Major return a cold, heartless man after the horrors of the war, or did his love for his wife cool the anger and shock?
Toward the end of the book I was totally engrossed wanting to know how life would treat these brave characters who had to do whatever it took to survive.
Martha D. (Hillsboro, OR)

The Second Mrs Hockaday
I love historical fiction but not a huge fan of the Civil War time period. That being said the epistolatory narrative of this story pulled me right in. There's quite a bit here for book clubs to discuss and an interesting mystery to solve. Definitely one of the better books I read last year.
Johanna M. (Naperville, IL)

A Literary Delight
The language draws you into another time, the writing style propels you forward and as the characters' stories unfold your heart aches for the young Civil
War bride left on her own and hiding the truth behind a terrible crime. Looking forward to Susan River's next book!!!
Barbara P. (Hixson, TN)

A "must read" for historical fiction lovers
I found myself unable to put this book down. The reader is caught up in the mystery of Placidia Hockaday. Something happens while her new husband goes off to fight in the Civil War that greatly affects her life. You want to know what has happened. This book is written in letters that she and other family members wrote and in a diary that she has kept. It's important to watch the dates in order to follow the story. I would've
given this book five stars if it weren't for the early confusion in the dates.
Barb W. (Mechanicsburg, PA)

The Second Mrs. Hockaday
Being a fan of books set during the US Civil War, I couldn't wait to read this book, and I'm glad it didn't disappoint. While other readers were put off by the letter/diary format and the bouncing around in time, neither of those bothered me.

Once I got into the story, which didn't take long, I had a hard time putting the book down. Some of the subjects that arose are hard to read about, and some of the language that was true to the time would be considered objectionable today, so this might not be for every reader. When I read that the book was based on a true story, that made it more compelling for me.
Nancy Geyer

"a nice little book"
Susan Rivers is a romance novelist from way back..a genre I graduated from years ago.I credit her with being one of the better writers in this category and Mrs. Hockaday proves that her skills as a story teller have not diminished.Having said that I also feel that the discriminatory practices of the mid to late 19th century in America dictate the motivations of each character in a relatively predictable way......so while the entertainment value is indisputable the "mystery" is no more than the reality of life at the time.....nothing memorable or instructive here for me...simply a reminder that the mores of the past rarely survive the scrutiny of the present without some readjustment.
Lin Z. (Downers Grove, IL)

A confusing tale of a young girl
I have very mixed feelings about this book. The topic was interesting to me as it was set in the Civil War. The format was what I did not enjoy. It was often confusing to me who the narrator was. I found myself looking to see who was speaking . Even when the section moved to 1892, it still went back in time. A more linear story would have been easier to follow. Unless the letters were addressed directly to someone, I was not sure if I was reading a diary entry or was it the author . There were also many names of characters introduced that left me unsure if these were extended family or even slaves owned by the different families.I felt the author never answered the question of why was Mr. Hockday so willing to let his wife be jailed without really knowing the facts. Was he really expecting life to be the same after being gone 4 years? It was unsatisfying to not know how they came back to each other.

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