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The Wives of Henry Oades (Random House Reader's Circle)

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The Wives of Henry Oades (Random House Reader's Circle) Cover

ISBN13: 9780345510952
ISBN10: 034551095x
Condition: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

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 expected—and 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 they’ve both found happiness in the midst of their mourning—until Henry’s 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 family’s story into an unforgettable page-turning drama.

Review:

"An English accountant and his two wives are the subject of this intriguing and evocative debut novel based on a real-life 19th-century California bigamy case. A loving husband and attentive father, Henry Oades assures his wife, Margaret, that his posting to New Zealand will be temporary and the family makes the difficult journey. But during a Maori uprising, Margaret and her four children are kidnapped and the Oades's house is torched. Convinced his family is dead, Henry relocates to California and marries Nancy, a sad 20-year-old pregnant widow. When Margaret and the children escape, eventually making their way to California and Henry's doorstep, he does the decent thing by being a husband to both wives and father to all their offspring, a situation deemed indecent by the Berkeley Daughters of Decency. Moran presents Henry's story as if making a case in court, facts methodically revealed with just enough detail for the reader to form an independent opinion. But it's Margaret surviving the wilderness, Nancy overcoming grief and the two women bonding that give the book its heart and should make this a book group winner." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

About the Author

Johanna Moran comes from a long line of writers and lawyers. She lives on the west coast of Florida with her husband, John. The Wives of Henry Oades is her first novel.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 2 comments:

cariola119, April 16, 2010 (view all comments by cariola119)
This novel had a lot of promise but left me feeling not entirely satisfied--perhaps, in part, because I had just finished Kate Grenville's The Secret River, a much better written and more detailed account of white settlers' conflicts with "the blacks" in the same part of the world (Australia, as opposed to New Zealand). I found the chapters focusing on Margaret and Henry's life in NZ much more interesting than the "American" part of the story (although the depiction of the Maoris was oversmiplified and one-sided). For one thing, Henry didn't really seem to fall in love with Nancy, he just took pity on her because they had both lost a spouse and decided out of the blue to propose to her. Oddly, his love for her seemed to blaze into a passion after his first wife showed up. For another thing, the moral outrage of the Oadeses' neighbors was just too pat. I know that people may have been more religious, self-righteous, and judgmental in 1899, but surely some folks would have recognized that the family was facing a real dilemma and hadn't consciously decided to wallow in sin (which they weren't, in any case, doing).

Most disturbing was that we never got a sense of what the community or the law expected the Oadses to do, as they first screamed for the banishment of Margaret and her children and then for the "salvation" of Nancy--and, in both cases, the imprisonment of Henry, the supposed bigamist. Nor was it ever made quite clear what message we were supposed to take away from the book. That this was a unique case of "accidental bigamy" and a private matter? That polygamous families can work for the benefit of all? While the Oadses may have worked it out for themselves, I was left feeling unsatisfied with yet another novel in which the women are called upon to make all the sacrifices and make them willingly.
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gaby317, March 9, 2010 (view all comments by gaby317)
When I first began The Wives of Henry Oades, I was quick to sympathize with Margaret Oades. Her husband accepted a three year post in New Zealand for three years and she soon found herself leaving her family and life in England. Pregnant, unwell, and on a long sea voyage with her children, and the one friend that she makes dies on the long journey. Like many European wives, Margaret Oades has a difficulty adjusting to live in isolated Wellington, but she tries to make the best of her situation. Even when her husband signs up for another term, Margaret focuses on her family.

When an incident at Henry's workplace results in an unexpected Maori attack, it's Margaret and her children that suffer the most. Margaret and the children survive despite terrible odds. When the family is finally reunited, Margaret is shocked to discover that Henry has remarried a much younger lady. The families join together, shocking their Berkeley neighbors who file repeated charges of bigamy against Henry and the two Mrs. Oades.

While Mrs. Nancy Oades is much younger than Margaret, she proves understanding of Margaret's predicament. The friendship and respect that develops between Margaret and Nancy is one of the best parts of the story.

The Wives of Henry Oades doesn't read like non-fiction or a debut novel, Johanna Moran has written a gripping account of life for women in the 1800s.

ISBN-10: 034551095X - Paperback
Publisher: Ballantine Books; Original edition (February 9, 2010), 384 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher and TLC Book Tours.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780345510952
Author:
Moran, Johanna
Publisher:
Ballantine Books
Subject:
General
Subject:
General Fiction
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Series:
Random House Reader's Circle
Publication Date:
20100231
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
384
Dimensions:
8 x 5.1 x 0.8 in 0.6 lb

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

The Wives of Henry Oades (Random House Reader's Circle) Used Trade Paper
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Product details 384 pages Ballantine Books - English 9780345510952 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "An English accountant and his two wives are the subject of this intriguing and evocative debut novel based on a real-life 19th-century California bigamy case. A loving husband and attentive father, Henry Oades assures his wife, Margaret, that his posting to New Zealand will be temporary and the family makes the difficult journey. But during a Maori uprising, Margaret and her four children are kidnapped and the Oades's house is torched. Convinced his family is dead, Henry relocates to California and marries Nancy, a sad 20-year-old pregnant widow. When Margaret and the children escape, eventually making their way to California and Henry's doorstep, he does the decent thing by being a husband to both wives and father to all their offspring, a situation deemed indecent by the Berkeley Daughters of Decency. Moran presents Henry's story as if making a case in court, facts methodically revealed with just enough detail for the reader to form an independent opinion. But it's Margaret surviving the wilderness, Nancy overcoming grief and the two women bonding that give the book its heart and should make this a book group winner." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
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