The Wives of Henry Oades

( 36 )

Overview

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. ...

See more details below
Paperback
$12.56
BN.com price
(Save 16%)$15.00 List Price

Pick Up In Store

Reserve and pick up in 60 minutes at your local store

Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (93) from $1.99   
  • New (10) from $8.43   
  • Used (83) from $1.99   
The Wives of Henry Oades: A Novel

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$11.99
BN.com price

Overview

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.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“A stellar debut novel . . . A historical saga seen through the lens of two wives, one husband, and the disapproving, cantankerous rabble at the end of Victorian America.”—Jamie Ford, author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
 
“Equal parts love story and courtroom drama, Johanna Moran’s The Wives of Henry Oades is a compelling story of good people caught in impossible circumstances, and a community that rushes to judge rather than to understand.”—Meg Waite Clayton, author of The Wednesday Sisters
 
“A beguiling, promising debut.”—Kirkus Reviews
 
“Intriguing and evocative . . . [It’s] the two women bonding that give this book its heart and should make this a book group winner.”—Publishers Weekly

“Johanna Moran’s fine first novel is a fascinating story….Moran is a careful writer, a spare stylist who never wastes a word. She also has a well-tuned ear for the jargon of the period, colorful language that adds warmth, humor, and humanity to her story.”—Boston Globe
 
“Moran focuses her satisfying, briskly paced novel on Henry’s two wives. Their experiences and attitudes are very different, yet their love for their children and their shared husband brings them to an unusual and courageous alliance.”—St. Petersburg Times
 
“Told mainly from the wives' perspectives, the story hinges on readers' empathy with their unusual predicament….Moran's debut…will intrigue historical fiction fans and provide plenty of discussion points for book clubs.”—Library Journal
 
“Takes the bare outline of the legal case against Henry Oades and spins it into a heartbreaking story of the two women who love him.”—Herald-Tribune, Sarasota
 
“Moran’s debut is simply wonderful. She is firmly at home writing suspense-filled scenes, whether they take place among Maori captives or in a California courthouse. She also writes convincingly about the close friendships between women. The bond between women forms the core of this novel—a page-turner that readers will mourn finishing.”—Romantic Times, Top Pick!
 

Publishers Weekly
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. (Mar.)
Library Journal
When Henry Oades is posted to New Zealand in 1890, he considers the move a chance for adventure. Content with life in London, Margaret reluctantly accompanies him with their children. When their isolated cottage is attacked by the Maori, Margaret and the children are abducted and presumed dead. Fleeing from his memories, Henry resettles in California, where he marries Nancy, a young widow with a baby. Six years later, Margaret and her children, having finally escaped captivity, arrive at Henry's Berkeley farm. Weathering threats, harassment, and lawsuits, Nancy and Margaret slowly develop a supportive relationship that enables their blended family to survive. VERDICT Told mainly from the wives' perspectives, the story hinges on readers' empathy with their unusual predicament. Other characters are somewhat flat. Even unflappable Henry remains a bit of an enigma. Still, Moran's debut, based on the true case of Henry Oades, acquitted of bigamy three times, will intrigue historical fiction fans and provide plenty of discussion points for book clubs.—Kathy Piehl, Minnesota State Univ. Lib., Mankato
Kirkus Reviews
Two women discover they're both rightfully married to the same man. Serious, sometimes horrific developments are lightened by touches of understated, salty wit in Moran's fact-based historical, a fresh and unusual story that moves from New Zealand to California in the 1890s. British accountant Henry Oades, his wife Margaret and their two children leave England for a temporary posting in New Zealand, where Margaret gives birth to twins. Their domestic contentment is suddenly shattered when a band of Maori, in a revenge attack, burn down their home and abduct Margaret and the children. The distraught Henry plans pursuit but hurts himself badly in a fall. After a slow recovery he must accept the fact that his children cannot be traced and the bones found in the house's ashes were Margaret's (though readers already know they were not). Moving to America, he becomes a dairy farmer and six years after the catastrophe marries widowed Nancy Foreland. But Margaret has survived, as have all but one of the children. Freed from years of slavery, they make their way home and then to California, where they reunite with the surprised Henry and Nancy. Two wives and one husband living under the same roof attract the wrath of the Daughters of Decency; harassment follows, then a series of trials, but the curious family emerges even stronger. A beguiling, promising debut, combining clipped narration and capable technique with tender appreciation for the female characters in particular.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345510952
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 2/9/2010
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 307,732
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet 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.
Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt

Part One

The Newcomers 1890  

A common bat on the other side of the world elects to sink its rabid fangs, and one's cozy existence is finished.   Margaret Oades knew her husband was up to something the moment he came through the door with a bottle of wine. It was late. The children had gone up hours ago. "What's the occasion?" she asked, laying out a plain supper of shirred eggs and lardy cakes.  

Henry kissed the nape of her neck, giving her a shiver. "I've an announcement," he said.  

Margaret expected him to say he'd found a collie for their son. John, nearly eight now-her big boy, her pride-had been wheedling without letup for weeks. She took down two goblets, hoping the dog was an old one and not some frisky crocus lover.  

"A senior passed in New Zealand," he said instead. "Of a bat bite, poor bloke. I'm to complete his stint. We're due as soon as possible. You'll want to prepare."  

Margaret set the goblets aside. "Henry."  

"Two years, sweetheart." He'd proposed marriage with the same pleading look. "The time shall sail by, you'll see. It's a grand opportunity, a flying leap forward. I could hardly say no thanks."  

Three weeks later, boarding the steamer tender that was to take them down the Thames and bring them up alongside the Lady Ophelia, Margaret could not recall what she'd said next. Nothing perhaps, stunned as she'd been.  

On board the crowded tender, a child each by the hand, Henry and Margaret jockeyed for position at the rail. Already the narrow boat was moving, spewing gray smoke. Margaret waved to her parents on the quay below, flapping her hankie, straining to pick them out through tears and drizzle. She'd not told them she was expecting again, thinking it too soon. She regretted now not making an exception, cutting the sadness with a bit of happy news. Henry wrapped an arm about her, kissing her brow, his beard grazing her cheek. He'd been made a ship's constable, issued a red-lettered guernsey too small for him. The bulky knit pulled across his broad shoulders and chest. Pale knobby wrists jutted between glove and cuff. He was to be paid seven pounds for patrolling the single-women's section, which appealed to the latent cop in him. He'd had other aspirations before settling upon an accountant's stool. There was a time when he thought himself bound for the opera stage, but that was years ago, before he knew what it took. 

  He kissed her again. "It's not forever."  

"The new baby shall be walking," she said, rising up on her toes, waving wide arcs.  

Behind her a woman said, "They cannot see us anymore. We're too far off."  

Margaret turned to face the lady in the gaudy checked cape, a pixie of a woman with a sprinkle of reddish brown freckles to match her hair. Earlier, Margaret and her father had been standing on the wharf, monitoring the loading of their trunks. The cheeky woman sashayed up like a long-lost relation, saying, "Your wife has such a serious look about her, sir."  

"I beg your pardon," Margaret had said. "You're addressing my father."  

"You don't remember me," the woman said now, fingering a dangling ear bob.  

"I do, madam." How could she forget? 

  "Where's your lovely da?" 

  "My father isn't sailing," said Margaret. "He was there to see us off."  

"A pity," she said, turning to Henry, smiling, dimpling. "I'm Mrs. Martha Randolph, Constable. One of your charges. Who might the wee lady and gentleman be?"  

Henry introduced the children, clapping a proud hand to John's shoulder, prying six-year-old Josephine from Margaret's leg. Margaret turned back to the watery haze that was her parents, spreading her feet for balance, her pretty going-away shoes pinching. She'd been told the river was calm. "Smooth as glass," her favorite uncle had claimed.  

"Your children are charming, Mr. Oades," said Mrs. Randolph. Meaning, presumably, Your wife is utterly lacking. The woman sauntered off not holding the rail, flaunting her superior sea legs, a cockiness won by being on one's own, no doubt.  

London was behind them now, the hawkers and filth, the soot-belching chimney pots, the piles of manure in the streets, the raw sewage in the black water. Margaret had visited once before. It's good to get to know other things and places, Henry had said on the train. She'd agreed aloud, but not in her heart. At thirty-two she was a contented homebody, John and Josephine's mum, Henry's wife. It was enough, more than enough. She knew all she needed to know about other things and places.  

The tender rounded a rocky promontory. A row of small cottages went by, lighted from within, the mothers in them tucked away, minding their worlds, starting their suppers.  

Henry spoke close to her ear, his breath warm as toast. "Think of the grand stories we'll tell in our sapless dotage."   She laughed a little. "Assuming we've the sap to see us to dotage."  

He laughed too, releasing pent-up excitement. "That's my girl." He was as keen to go as she was not. He hoisted John and put a fist, a make-believe telescope, to John's eye. "Now watch for our ship, boy. She'll come into view any moment now."  

A shout came from above. "Ahoy! There she is!"  

The passengers stampeded toward the bow. Henry and the children fell in, joining the stream. Margaret stood rigid, the blood quickening in her veins. The Lady Ophelia was enormous, majestic. She came with sails as well as steam. Four towering masts swayed against a pewter sky, as if unstable. 

  Henry called to Margaret. She scanned the throng, spotting them ahead, larky children shrieking, Henry waving her forward. She gripped the burnished rail and began to inch her way toward them, the deck seesawing beneath her feet, her insides turning. "Like walking about in your own best room," the prevaricating uncle had said. 

  They'd not been on board the Lady Ophelia five minutes when John stumbled over a coil of rope and fell, scraping his knee. A uniformed officer was on him immediately, setting him to. The deck was positively littered with ropes, with winches and chains, drums and casks, all manner of object designed to draw a curious boy close to the rail. She'd need to watch the children every second of the day.  

"There's some confusion in the ladies' section, sir," the officer said to Henry. "You're wanted straightaway."   The ship's doctor came up, offering Margaret and the children a tour in Henry's absence.  

Henry cheerfully accepted on Margaret's behalf, before she could decide or get the first word out. They were led down a narrow corridor and shown the maple-paneled library, and then a card room, and yet another social room with a piano, an Oriental rug, and plush velvet drapery.  

"It's all quite impressive," said Margaret, calmer now. It helped to be inside, away from the rail. By the time they reached the hectic dining hall she was feeling rather human again. The roast lamb smelled delicious. How novel to sit down to a meal she hadn't so much as pared a potato for.

Dr. Pritchard escorted them to their cabin afterward, passing the animal pen along the way, where chickens mingled with pigs, and sheep stood with sad-looking dewlappy cows.  

"We've the best of butchers aboard," said the doctor. 

  "Nice piggy," said Josephine, squatting, putting herself face-to-snout with a homely sow having her brown supper.   The grizzled old sailor inside the pen approached her. "You mustn't ever utter the word pig on board a ship, lassie. 'Twill bring the worst of luck. You're to say swiney instead." 

  "Come away, Pheeny," said Margaret, giving the frightening man a stern eye. 

  At the opposite rail two young African sailors struggled to unlatch a wooden lifeboat. "They're required to practice," said the doctor, "before each sailing." 

  The inept lads looked no older than twelve or thirteen. She would have to study the latching apparatus and teach herself how to unlock and release a boat. God help them should they need to rely on tots.  

The women's section was located just behind the animal pen. Male passengers, the doctor said, were strictly forbidden here. Margaret looked for Henry, but saw only women coming and going, old and young and in between, all laden with sacks and baskets. Off to the side, four women stood in a close huddle, Mrs. Randolph obviously presiding, one hand holding her fancy cape closed, the other gesturing wildly.  

"Your husband will have earned his stipend," said the doctor, reading Margaret's mind.  

She asked, "Do you have any idea when we might expect him?"  

"I don't. Sorry." He brought them as far as their cabin door and left, saying that he was overdue.  

She entered thinking, Henry, Henry, wait until you see. They'd both imagined a fairly spacious cabin, anticipated a small sitting area at least. In fact, the room offered only three places to sit: upon one of the two lower berths or upon the stool beneath the writing shelf. Lamps and washstand were bolted to the wall, virtually promising heavy seas. A shout came from outside, along with a grating rattle of chain. The ship shuddered and began to move. John begged to go to the bow, but Margaret said no, Father wouldn't find them in the crowd. They waited for Henry inside, the dim little cabin rocking like an elephant's cradle. When he didn't come, she prepared the children for bed. "It's been a long day, hasn't it?" She changed into her nightdress and climbed the six-rung ladder to her berth, crouching at the top, proceeding on her hands and knees. There was no other way. The Queen herself would access the bed with her bottom in the air. Below, John kept up a steady stream of chatter.  

"We're bound to see whales tomorrow," he said. "And sea pigs too."  

"The wobbly man told us not to say pig," said Josephine. "You're to say sea swiney instead."  

"Porpoise then," said John. "That's their other name." Margaret fell asleep to their voices, dreaming that Henry had snuck off the ship and gone home on his own.  

He showed up just after ten, whispering apologies. The captain had detained him, along with the other constables, treating them all to brandy and cigars. "The skipper's a dyed-in-the-wool bachelor," he said, "with no appreciation of a lovely girl waiting." He attempted to squeeze his large self in beside Margaret, but even with her backside flush against the wall, the berth would not hold them both. He climbed down and then up again, settling in the opposite upper with a loud sigh. They were to sleep like celibates for the duration then, something they'd never done. A lonely, hemmed-in feeling came over her. In the dark, she touched the ceiling, calculating the distance-eight inches, ten at the most. A near-term woman wouldn't fit. "'Night, Henry."  

"It'll be all right, Meg," he said. 

  She closed her eyes. "It will."  

Henry was called away to duty the next afternoon, missing the last spit of England. Margaret bundled the children and took them up top. A few dozen others stood somberly at the rail, a westerly whipping their clothes, blowing hats from heads. Cornwall's jagged cliffs rose somewhere off the stern, no longer visible without a glass. Ahead lay nothing, absolutely nothing but an alarming expanse of churning sea and dull winter sky. A man began to play the anthem on his flute, slow and mournful. Some of the passengers locked arms and sang. The women sounded especially sad, their voices cracking. Margaret wasn't the only one, then. There were others whose bones wouldn't warm, others thinking: What in God's name have we done? 

  They entered the Bay of Biscay that evening and came along the edge of a storm. An hour into the weather, Henry complained of dizziness and blurred vision. Margaret went to fetch Dr. Pritchard, finding his tight quarters filled with patients. He gave her an orange and instructions to have Henry go up on deck. "I think you should come have a look," she said. The doctor promised he would first chance. But he didn't, and Henry was left to rally on his own.   On the sixth morning, in sight of the African coast, the seas placid, Margaret awoke feeling queer herself, quaky and nauseous. The doctor gave her an exasperated look when she came in, one that said: You, again. He asked straight off, "Are you in a family way?" Margaret said yes, and he shrugged, as if to say the symptoms were to be expected. He advised her to keep a full stomach.  

"Much easier said than done," she said.  

The doctor laughed, showing another side of himself. "You're a droll one. I like that."  

Mrs. Randolph was passing the infirmary just as Margaret came out. "Mrs. Oades! You're well, I hope?"  

"I am." The lady's eyes were glassy, fevered-looking. She was younger than Margaret first thought, probably Margaret's own age, give or take a year. "And you, madam?"  

Mrs. Randolph put a hand to her middle. "The lamb stew of two nights ago nearly killed me. Mind what you eat."   "I shall," said Margaret. "Pardon my saying so, but you appear a bit peaked still. Perhaps you should see the doctor."   "I've seen the no-good," said Mrs. Randolph. "Once was enough, thank you. A baby died last evening, you know."   Margaret's eyes filled. "Oh, dear God. Of what?"  

"Whatever the cause," said Mrs. Randolph, "the quack inside made not the first bloody attempt to save it. He's a dentist, by the by, not a bona fide doctor. The purser informed me." She touched Margaret's hand with trembling fingers, her voice softening. "The child was the mum's one and only. She is beside herself with grief, poor wretch. She's not left her berth even to relieve herself. Some of the others and I plan to attend the service at four. Will you come, Mrs. Oades?" 

  "Of course."  

"We'll show she's not alone in the world, won't we?"  

"Yes," said Margaret. "Though we won't begin to solace."  

The baby's name was Homer Brown. Someone whispered, "Barely a year old." 

  Prayers were said, and then the shrouded child was let over the rail, into gray water, beneath a gray sky. The bereft mother faltered as the baby was released, grasping the rail in lieu of a husband. There was no man present, no kin at all.  

Above, Margaret could hear the rowdy drunks in the men's hatch, Norsemen, a good many of them. Someone shouted in English, "Show a bit of respect for the baby's mum." But they did not let up for a moment.    

Kindness Itself  

Margaret began to miscarry on the eleventh morning out. A strong wind had come up during the night and was only now abating. A keen howl continued, along with straining-timber noises, hideous, ungodly sounds to die by.  

Henry brought her down to John's berth, and then went for Dr. Pritchard, returning instead with Mrs. Randolph. She carried a sack and something wrapped in blue flannel.  

Read More Show Less

Reading Group Guide

1. On the voyage to New Zealand, Mrs. Randolph, a fellow passenger, cares for Margaret as she miscarries. Later, when Margaret tries to explain her grief over her new friend’s death to Henry, she thinks, “the small transactions between women, particularly mothers, cannot adequately be explained to a man. Some, like hers with Mrs. Randolph, will bind women for life.” Do you agree with Margaret? Can a strong relationship between women be forged in a matter of hours? With whom have you felt this connection?

 2. Why do you think Mr. Oades misidentified Mim Bell as his wife? How could he have made such a grievous error? 

3. Margaret refers to the quid pro quo of her faith: “One takes communion every single Sunday for thirty- odd years. One humbles herself, embraces every last dogmatic note, and no good comes of it, no help when one needs it most.” Nancy, too, feels as though she has been cheated. Have people’s expectations of contemporary Christianity changed? 

4. Margaret teaches her children lessons every evening: grammar, mathematics, and etiquette. “It was her duty to prepare them for their return. She refused to accept the possibility that they might grow old and die a natural death here. Margaret never once considered setting her children free to be slaves.” She refuses to allow her children to live the life before them, planning, instead, for the life she hopes they will claim. Why does Margaret remain so steadfast during their captivity? 

5. Henry finally accepts that his loved ones are dead, and eventually he marries another woman. What is the catalyst for this turning point? Do you agree with his actions? 

6. Why do Margaret and the children receive such a chilly welcome when they finally return to the village from the Maori camp? 

7. Several matches proposed in this book seem made for convenience: Portia and Henry, Margaret and Captain Fisk of the Sacramento, and even Nancy and Henry, at least in the beginning. Do you agree? If so, why do you think that is? 

8. At what point do Margaret and Nancy start to get along? What sparks their friendship? 

9. Though it’s a wretched situation for everyone involved, which Mrs. Oades do you think suffers most? With which woman do you most identify?

10. Was there a better solution for Mr. Oades and his non - traditional family? Or did they make the best possible choice? Would there be a better solution today? What would it be? 

11. The claims of the Daughters of Decency seem ridiculous to modern ears. Can you think of any recent court battles that might seem as hysteric and unnecessary a century from now? 

12. Consider the Maori premonition in the beginning of the book. How does it relate to the story? 

13. What, in the end, do you think was the main theme of this book? Were you surprised?  

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 36 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(17)

4 Star

(11)

3 Star

(6)

2 Star

(2)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 36 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 23, 2010

    Why Isn't This On the Top 10?

    Just one word sums up this book: Fabulous! Written in an appealing style, The Wives of Henry Oades is written with great depth of characters, and a plot that will keep you tied to your Nook (or book!). With a unique story line, the author, Johanna Moran, spins an outstanding tale about a genteel London family in the 1880's heading to the wilds of New Zealand - where the wife is kidnapped and the adventure begins. Both touching, offbeat and romantic, this is a book you won't want to put down. Johanna Moran, if you are reading this, please tell us your next book will be published soon.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 9, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    The Wives of Henry Oades

    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.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 5, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Based on a True Story

    This book is set in the 1880's and is about a man who has two wives...and he was not Mormon. Henry Oades and his family move from England to New Zealand. Shortly after they arrive while Henry is at work his home is raided by Maori and his family kidnapped. After extensively searching and finding no trace of his family Henry decides to move on with his life and moves to California where he goes to work for a cattle rancher. When the cattleman dies he leaves Henry his farm. After several years Henry falls in love with a young widow and they are married.

    Then one day out of the blue his wife and children who he thought dead show up on his doorstep. Margaret his first wife managed after years of captivity to escape from the Maori tribe with her children and although penniless after several months is able to cross the ocean to California. She arrives before her letters so Henry is totally shocked to see his family return.

    Of course Henry loves both women but he cannot think of Margaret in the same way that he did...he is in love with the new young wife and the women take up residence in the same house. The people in the town turn against the family and harrass and throw Margaret into jail and then Henry.

    Well I don't want to tell the whole story so you must read it for yourself! This book was disturbing in some ways but also mesmerizing...and of course it was a real page turner.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 1, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Author Creates Compelling Novel from Court Case

    The Wives of Henry Oades is an impressive and absorbing debut by Johanna Moran. I truly enjoyed this historical saga set in London, New Zealand and California during the late 1800s. The fascinating story revolves around a well-publicized actual court case the author's mother had considered writing. Obviously invested in this intriguing case, Ms. Moran beautifully fleshed out her plot. Often I wish for a heavier hand from the editor in a book. My experience with The Wives of Henry Oades was the opposite. The key issue for the author was probably the lawsuit at the end of the story, but I was thirsty for more details of the juicy plot during the first two thirds of the book, particularly, the experience with the Maori. Faintly reminiscent of James Alexander Thom's Follow the River, the book focuses equally on Margaret and Henry's experiences instead of just the abduction. Margaret's loyal and determined character is established quickly and clearly through dialogue and letter writing early in the novel. Particularly unexpected and touching is the bonding of the two women at the end of the novel. Highly recommended for those seeking a glimpse into family and women's issues during the late 19th century and wanting a quick, absorbing read. I look forward to more from this talented author.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 10, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    What a problem!

    What would you do if your dead wife and children returned after being gone 6 years and you had remarried? See how one man reacted and how a community reacted around 1900.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 20, 2010

    Easy to start and hard to put down

    I found this story instantly intriguing and had a hard time putting it down because I needed to know how it would end. The ending was a bit of a letdown, but because it was based on a possibly true story, I suppose it could not be helped. The dilemma faced by this family was interesting and unique, and not one that would be easily solved by anyone!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 23, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    An Excellent Read

    Imagine that your husband is transferred to New Zealand in the late 1800s and you and your small children have no choice but to accompany him. Once in your remote locale, you find that tensions between settlers and the native tribe are increasingly hostile. All of which culminates in an attack on your home in which you and your children are kidnapped and forced into slavery. You manage to escape and try to desperately find your husband, but he has left New Zealand. Desperate you are able to track him to California, and arrive at his doorstep penniless. Anticipating the best moment in the 6 years of torment you knock on his door and are confronted with his new wife, Nancy. With no other options you move into their farm with your children only to be persecuted by society and tried for bigamy. Such is the soap operatic fate of Meg Oades who is actually based on a real person and an actual court case that tested the laws of bigamy and spotlights Victorian society and values. Meg's take is surprisingly well- balanced by Nancy's account. Nancy is a young widow with a child of her own and a cruel victim of extraordinary circumstances. This strange but true story is deftly fleshed out in Morans debut even if the women and their husband are heavily idealized, but their story is unforgettable and an interesting back drop to explore family, love and loyalty. As page turning as a thriller, The Wives of Henry Oades is a thought provoking book club selection.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 4, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Captivating

    Johanna Moran's debut novel is pure perfection. Set in the 1890s and based on a true story, Moran captured me and took me back to a place in time that became as vivid as my real world. From the little details she sprinkles throughout the story to the dialogue she writes, Moran's gift for storytelling shines. This book made me smile and made me cry. Brilliant.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 25, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Excellent debut, tangible story and characters.

    Every so often an author's debut published work speaks volumes about their writing talent. The Wives of Henry Oades by Johanna Moran is one of these examples. Full of maturity, and literary talent, Moran's novel is full-blooded and bountiful, with a beautiful story and characters that are authentic and tangible. Maybe this is the result of Moran basing the book on a true story, but I tend to think it's because she's a talented writer.

    Set in the 1890s, The Wives of Henry Oades tells the story of the first bigamy case in the United States. Henry Oades, his wife Margaret, and their children move to New Zealand when Henry is offered a prestigious accounting job. One evening after work Henry returns to their rural home to find it nothing but smoldering ashes with the skeleton of a woman inside. Destitute and shattered, Henry searches for his family for years before leaving New Zealand under the belief that the body in his house was in wife, and that his children are dead, having been kidnapped by the native Maori.

    Six years later, Henry is living in Berkeley, California, a dairy farmer who has re-married a young pregnant widower, Nancy. When Nancy opens the door one day and finds Margaret and her children on the porch the lives of the Oades' wives and Henry are forever changed. Subject to persecution and abuse, Henry refuses to leave either wife or abandon any of his children.

    Heartbreaking at times, we travel with the Oades family when they embark for New Zealand in the hopes of prosperity. We suffer with Henry while he searches helplessly for his family, and we feel his heartbreak when he finally believes them slain. We weep for Margaret and her children, forced into slavery for the Maori tribe who kidnapped them. And we suffer pity for hapless Nancy, just the bystander in a horrible situation.

    Moran makes us think about relationships, love, and loyalty among family. She paints a remarkable, unimaginable situation that actually happened. And even though the book description tells you that Margaret lives, it's still a tortuous read to see how she and her family physically survive to land in California. I haven't read as strong a character as Margaret in quite some time. For that matter, all of Moran's characters are lifelike and concrete. They are based on a true story, but it takes more than a historical note to create the world of the Oades' family as they are in Moran's book. It takes skill, and a deep and lovely imagination.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 4, 2009

    A wonderfully written novel based on a true story

    The year is 1890, and the Oades family travels from London to New Zealand, where Mr. Oades has accepted a new position. Traveling across oceans in 1890 with three children is a harrowing experience in and of itself, but just the tip of the iceberg of what this family endures over the next 20 years. Suffice to say, the events lead to a trusting, loyal husband and father, being accused and prosecuted for bigamy, as well as the family being ostracized by the community in which they now live. But, what really impacted me most about this book was the relationship that developed between the two Mrs. Oades, one now in her 40s, having lived through and having watched her children live through, more horrible and difficult experiences than one can imagine; and the other, a young widow with an infant, who not only willingly takes in her husband's first wife and his children, but is protective and supportive of them under the onslaught of the community and the law. Absolutely fascinating read. I look forward to other books by Johanna Moran.

    (I was fortunate to receive an advance reader's copy of this book through Bookbrowse.)

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

    Posted May 29, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 9, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 15, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted March 11, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 16, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted June 25, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 5, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 9, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted September 27, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 15, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 36 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)