An Inconvenient Wife

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Overview

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), ...

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An Inconvenient Wife

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Overview

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).

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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.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780446694865
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • Publication date: 12/28/2005
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 432
  • 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."

(Continues...)



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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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 44 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(22)

4 Star

(11)

3 Star

(7)

2 Star

(2)

1 Star

(2)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 44 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 20, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Excellent Book

    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.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 31, 2009

    I loved this book!

    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!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 9, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    One of the best books!

    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.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 13, 2009

    A page turner

    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.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 28, 2011

    I Also Recommend:

    Great book!

    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!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 9, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    MODERN VERSION OF YELLOW WALLPAPER

    Here is a neat extension of Gilman's famous short story "The Yellow Wallpaper" developed more fully and set in a complete world. The heroine's plight will resonate with contemporary readers and give a frightening historical picture of female subjugation under the guise of care. The author builds well to a fine and satisfying conclusion. I gave this book as a gift to several women -- as I also did with another even more interesting, and frightening work: the biography INFIDEL.
    Both are certainly recommended as a provocative work for book clubs.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 7, 2012

    Excellent Read

    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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  • Posted April 19, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Awesome!!!

    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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  • Posted January 17, 2011

    Interesting read

    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.

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  • Posted January 1, 2011

    ECELLENT!

    A page turner to the end. Many twist and turns. A view of life and what was expected of women in the 1800s.

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  • Posted May 14, 2010

    hysteria

    I always find these historical fiction books with woman's insanity and hysteria that land them in an asylum quite entertaining and disturbing all at once. It's enlightening to know just how far we've come! This book varies from others because we see in more detail the sexual repression of women in high society and the oh so clever ways they were attempted to be cured.
    The use of "electro-therapy" is quite unusual in this book.

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  • Posted March 8, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    3.5 stars

    3.5 stars. My first book from this author. Actually, I've never heard of her before and I believe she has 4(?) books out. I'm having a little bit of a hard time rating this book. It's an interesting look at how women in the late 1800's were being diagnosed with "hysteria". If a woman might be exhibiting some sort of behavior that didn't coincide what society thought was the norm or proper it was believed in many cases that this was somehow related to the uterus or sexual release. I know this way of thought existed but I don't know enough of it to know whether the way the author depicts it is genuine.

    The story evolves around Lucy, a woman born to money and has lived in high society in 1880s New York for all her life. The author really puts us in Lucy's head during all her struggles during the story. I did like how the author kept us guessing whether or not the neurologist, Victor Seth, was really helping her or controlling her. But at other times I felt as if the story was a little "too much" in regards to hypnotism and sexual release. Still, I would say it is an interesting read and paints a good picture of the era.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 22, 2006

    If you enjoyed 'The Yellow Wallpaper'...

    A historical venture into the life of a high-society lady whose unreconciled desires manifest themselves in the so-called 'female hysteria' and 'reproductive ailments' so fashionably diagnosed in the day, 'An Inconvenient Wife' proves itself darker and sexier than its first impression, harboring a twist that is most unexpected. Although the wealthy protagonist's 'pains' feel annoyingly frivoulous and spoiled to the modern reader at first, Chance quickly wins you over by submerging you in a stifling- misogynistic society, by drawing you in with Lucy's rising empowerment and courage to stand up against both her oppressors and her liberator. If you are either fascinated by the prescriptions of victorian era crackpot-psychology, or simply a good period story fraught with rebellion and desire--this one is for you.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 7, 2006

    An interesting read

    I found life in these times to be quite stiffling for women but very interesting as to how they dealt with women issues. A good read

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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    Posted May 29, 2011

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    Posted September 18, 2010

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    Posted October 28, 2011

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    Posted November 6, 2011

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    Posted May 25, 2010

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    Posted May 21, 2011

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