Synopses & Reviews
In her masterful first novel Mrs. Kimble,
Jennifer Haigh delivers the compelling story of three women who marry the same man -- an enigmatic opportunist named Ken Kimble.Birdie. 1961.
He was the choir director at a Southern Bible college. At practice she followed his hands with her eyes. Watching him, she thought of the Pietà: Mary weeping over her son's crucified body, his naked arms smooth as milk, his chest delicately ribbed like the underside of a flower. She imagined his shoulders bare beneath his shirt, his body long and white. One evening he approached her after practice.Joan. 1969.
She met him at a pool party in Florida. His lank dark hair hung to his shoulders; he wore faded jeans and a colorful cotton blouse. His eyes were a startling blue. No man had touched her in a year. He was engaged to someone else.Dinah. 1979
They met by accident in Washington, D.C. Their paths had intersected once before, when she was a teenager. "You're a beautiful girl," he'd told her, oblivious to the hideous scar on her face. He was old enough to be her father.
Kimble is revealed through the eyes of the women he seduces: his first wife, Birdie Bell, who struggles to hold herself together in the months following his desertion; his second wife, Joan Cohen, a lonely heiress shaken by personal tragedy, who sees in Kimble her last chance at happiness; and finally Dinah Whitacre, a beautiful but damaged woman half his age. Woven throughout is the story of Kimble's son, Charlie, whose life is forever affected by a father he barely remembers. Ken Kimble is a chameleon, a man able to become, at least for a while, all things to all women. To each of the three Mrs. Kimbles, he appears as a hero to whom powerful needs and nameless longings may be attached. Only later do they glimpse the truth about this elusive, unknowable man.
A captivating exploration of human love, marriage, and the illusions upon which it is founded, Mrs. Kimble presents a fascinating psychological portrait of a mesmerizing opportunist and the women who believe in him. Beautifully wrought, stunningly original, Jennifer Haigh's sparkling debut marks the arrival of a remarkable new talent.
"[A] luminous debut....The women are both weak and strong in their own ways, and the ending proves that Kimble may have done some good in spite of himself. A beautiful novel with memorable, vibrant characters that will have wide appeal." Kristine Huntley, Booklist (starred review)
Covering a span of 25 years, "Mrs. Kimble" tells the story of a trio of women who consecutively married the same man--a charismatic opportunist named Ken Kimble--a fascinating psychological portrait of an irresistible Svengali and the women who succumb to his spell.
“Beautiful, devastating and complex.” —Chicago Tribune
The award-winning debut novel from Jennifer Haigh, author of BakerTowers, The Condition, and Faith, tells the story of Birdie, Joan,and Dinah, three women who marry the same charismatic, predatory, and enigmaticopportunist: Ken Kimble. Resonating with emotional intensity and narrativeinnovation reminiscent of Ann Patchetts Bel Canto, Barbara Kingsolvers The Poisonwood Bible, and Zora Neale Hurstons TheirEyes Were Watching God, Haighs Mrs. Kimble is a timeless story ofgrief, passion, heartache, deception, and the complex riddle of love.
About the Author
Jennifer Haigh is the author of the short story collection News From Heaven and four critically acclaimed novels: Faith, The Condition, Baker Towers and Mrs. Kimble. Her books have won both the PEN/Hemingway Award for debut fiction and the PEN/L.L. Winship Award for work by a New England writer. Her short fiction has been published widely, in The Atlantic, Granta, The Best American Short Stories 2012, and many other publications. She lives in the Boston area.