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An Inconvenient Wife

An Inconvenient Wife

4.1 44
by Megan Chance

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AN INCONVENIENT WIFE is a rich blend of suspense, social history (America in the 1880s), and passion. Chance delivers a powerfully written page-turner about a woman's struggle to escape the confines of her time, class, and gender. Literary historical fiction is an extremely popular genre, as demonstrated by such bestsellers as Matthew Pearl's "The Dante Club (Random


AN INCONVENIENT WIFE is a rich blend of suspense, social history (America in the 1880s), and passion. Chance delivers a powerfully written page-turner about a woman's struggle to escape the confines of her time, class, and gender. Literary historical fiction is an extremely popular genre, as demonstrated by such bestsellers as Matthew Pearl's "The Dante Club (Random House, 2/03) and Michael Faber's "The Crimson Petal and the White (Harcourt, 9/02). Megan Chance is the author of "Susannah Morrow (Warner, 10/02), which captured the extraordinary drama of the Salem witch trials; as well as the historical romance novels "A Season in Eden (Harper, 1999), "The Gentleman Caller (Harper, 1998), "The Way Home (Harper, 1997), and "Fall from Grace (Harper, 1997).

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this gripping historical, Chance (Susannah Morrow) exposes the horrors women faced in late 19th-century New York when they dared to show passion of any kind or repudiate society's norms. Highborn Lucy Carelton suffers from a common female disorder, "hysteria": its symptoms are headaches, excitable reactions and feelings of claustrophobia. Her cold-hearted, nouveau riche husband, William, determined to find her a cure, brings her to several specialists, who recommend everything from an ovariotomy to several months of confinement in a private asylum. At their wits' ends, the Careltons come to the renowned Dr. Victor Seth, a controversial specialist in the new field of neurology, who uses a combination of hypnosis and electrotherapy to cure his patients. Chance ratchets up the tension when Victor and Lucy's patient/doctor relationship crosses the line into something more intimate and intriguing, as Lucy's horrifying childhood and loveless marriage are brought to light in her therapy. The author showcases the class prejudices inherent in New York's high society in the 1880s and aptly depicts the stifling life a woman had to accept. It becomes clear that the healthier and more independent Lucy is, the more threatened and alienated her husband becomes, and the resulting fallout is catastrophic. The role of the unconscious mind and its impact on conscious behavior is explored in depth here, and Chance ends this lightning-paced narrative with a clever twist underscoring the risks one woman takes to be her own person. Agent, Marcy Posner. (Apr.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Despite her stated desire to conform to the customs of upper-class New York society in the 1880s, Lucy Carleton behaves in unconventional ways that shock her contemporaries. In addition to her rich and domineering father's restrictions, Lucy faces the smothering concern of her social-climbing husband, William. These pressures cause nervous outbursts and prevent Lucy from having a child. When one doctor after another fails to isolate the problem, in desperation, William hires Dr. Victor Seth, a neurologist whose unconventional methods include hypnotism. His "cures" unleash in Lucy artistic and sexual passions that threaten her reputation and social position. An affair ensues, and when William finds out he sends Lucy to an asylum. Chance (Susannah Morrow) skillfully creates the abusive and prisonlike atmosphere that patients endured in such facilities at the time. Her depiction of the repressive world experienced by women outside such asylums is equally compelling. Lucy is no mere victim, though: the complexity of her character will intrigue readers. Unexpected turns in a well-paced plot provide additional reasons that historical fiction fans will enjoy the novel.-Kathy Piehl, Minnesota State Univ. Lib., Mankato Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

Grand Central Publishing
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.25(w) x 8.00(h) x 1.12(d)

Read an Excerpt

An Inconvenient Wife

By Megan Chance

Warner Books

Copyright © 2004 Megan Chance
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-446-52956-7

Chapter One

An asylum!" William said. "Is there nothing else we can try? Nothing at all?"

My husband balanced on the edge of his chair. The electric light shone on his high forehead, glinting in the gray threading through his dark hair. He was only thirty-five. The aging was due to his profession, he said. Brokering was a hard business. But I knew it was not that at all. I knew it was because of me.

"You don't want surgery." Dr. Little adjusted his round spectacles. The myriad certificates that dotted the brown toile wallpaper framed him nicely, as if deliberately placed to give weight to his earnestness.

"But if you think it's best ..." I said.

Dr. Little turned his mild, thoughtful gaze to me. "An ovariotomy is not always successful. Your husband feels the risk is too great."

"You could die, Lucy," William said.

"But there's the chance it would work."

Dr. Little nodded. "Yes, of course. We've made great gains with surgery of this type, but I would not be so anxious to try it-not when there is another option. Beechwood Grove is an excellent institution, Mrs. Carelton. We've had good results with hysterics and neurasthenics. A few months of enforced rest may be effective."

"A few months," William said in a low voice. "You've said six months, at least. It would encompass the entire season. What would we tell people?"

Dr. Little shrugged. "Perhaps you could suggest that Mrs. Carelton has taken an extended tour abroad."

"Lucy has always hated Europe," my husband said.

"Something else, then," Dr. Little said impatiently.

William exhaled. "I don't know. An asylum ..."

"A private asylum," Dr. Little corrected. "You must believe me when I say this is nothing like the horror houses you've heard about, Mr. Carelton. At Beechwood Grove, all of our patients are from excellent families. We make it as homelike as possible. Mrs. Carelton would even be permitted to have many of her own things."

I looked down, unable to meet the doctor's gaze. "Perhaps it's best, William...."

"No." He said it so violently that I looked up in surprise. "No. I refuse to believe this is the only way. An asylum, for God's sake. That's a place for the insane."

"Mr. Carelton, you came to me for advice; you said you had lost hope. I'm saying there is hope to be found, but it requires a great sacrifice on your part-"

"What you're saying is that Lucy belongs with madmen and criminals," William said coldly.

"There are no criminals in Beechwood Grove."

"Only madmen."

"Madwomen. We do not accept men there."

"Madwomen, then. You would put my wife with them?"

Dr. Little looked at William, and I read the meaning in his glance. Your wife is a madwoman. It's time to acknowledge it. It's time to send her away....

I could not bear to look. I felt the start of tears, and I dug my nails into my palm.

William got to his feet and pulled me to mine. "I appreciate your time and your advice, Doctor, but the season is just starting-"

"You may regret this," Dr. Little said. "Mrs. Carelton has been unable to meet the demands of society before."

"This year will be different. We still hope that there will be a child."

Dr. Little pressed his hands together. "A child. Mr. Carelton, I'm quite sure Mrs. Carelton could not care for a child. Not in her present state."

"Perhaps a child is just what she needs," William said hopefully.

"A good long rest is what she needs. An asylum, with round-the-clock care, is what she needs. I'm sorry, Mr. Carelton, but I see no other option for your wife."

William hesitated, and then he nodded. "Again, we thank you, Doctor. Now we must wish you good day." His fingers squeezed my arm; together we turned and left the doctor's office. When we were outside, into the growing chill that sharpened the air, standing amid the noise of carriages rattling down the street, the constant movement of the city, he turned to me. "Well." He sighed. "I'm sorry to have put you through that, darling."

I was cold; I could not feel my fingers at all. "He could be right, William."

"You would prefer to be locked away?"

"No, of course not, but-"

"There must be something else. Another way. Something we've overlooked."

"Dr. Little says there's nothing."

William ignored me. "Perhaps we should not have returned to the city so quickly. Perhaps ... a short trip to the country? What do you think, Lucy? Do you think they would miss us?"

I did not say what I thought-that our friends would be relieved. "No," I said, and though I tried to smile, I could not manage it. "A trip to the country would be fine."


Excerpted from An Inconvenient Wife by Megan Chance Copyright © 2004 by Megan Chance. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Inconvenient Wife 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 44 reviews.
MsKillaSmile More than 1 year ago
I stumbled upon this book in Barnes and Noble, and am happy I bought it. Very good storyline/plot and interesting topic. Once I picked up the book, it was very hard for me to put it down. The action moved very fast and the ending was superb. Great book.
sweetsherry More than 1 year ago
I'm usually not one for period style novels, but I came across a description of this book in the information I receive at the school I work at for Braille readers. It sounded interesting, so I decided to give it a try. Thank goodness I did, because I feel this will be a book I'll read over and over. I know this is a cliche, but I could not put the book down and when I had to I couldn't wait to get back to it. I became so close to the heroine that I felt a real kinship with her and I believe my eyes were opened a bit to the sometimes terribly hard lives some women had to live back in the 1800's. Bravo to Megan Chance for writing such an entertaining novel! I will certainly read more of her work!
sjlp More than 1 year ago
This was a story that really kept my interest. I read it almost all the way through without stopping and the ending held up and didn't falter like many of the books I have read lately. I recommend it highly.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book was so upsetting that I had to read the end while I was in the middle. I couldn't put the book down. It was well written, the characters so believable, and the story spellbinding.
Rosebolo More than 1 year ago
I was skeptical at first...I'd never heard of this book before. So pleasantly surprised as it turned out to be fantastic...interesting, thought provoking and a bonafide page-turner. I couldn't put it down! An added bonus, very interesting points of discussion for book club group. Highly recommend!
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I liked the unexpected twits and turns in this book. It was definitely not what I was expecting, but I enjoyed reading this book. Some parts of the book were a little vague, but overall the story line had a nice flow.
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Golf-Pros-Wife More than 1 year ago
Anyone who is a fan of Michel Faber's Crimson Petal and the White will love this book. I sure did! Great characters and story. Didn't want it to end!
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stephanie helton More than 1 year ago
This book had a very interesting storyline. It held my attention, and the story had an easy flow. I would highly reccommend to anyone interested in a little drama, mystery, and likes a historical read. Wonderful easy read.