The Wives of Henry Oades by Johanna Moran

Johanna Moran’s The Wives of Henry Oades begins with the journey of a young family to New Zealand from England, but once on foreign soil, the family is met with tragedy.  Henry Oades leaves New Zealand for a new life in America where he becomes a farmer and rebuilds his life.  The story is based upon a 19th century court case involving a man with two wives, according to Moran’s Website.

“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.”  (Page 5)

Moran’s story is unique and even more intriguing because it has a basis in fact, but in many ways the writing is stilted and it is difficult for readers to picture the settings in detail.  Additionally, there are some details that could be excluded in favor of speeding up the plot, which drags for the first 75 pages.

Margaret is a prim woman from a proper English family, who is thrown into a colony where not everyone is as well-bred as she is.  There’s a period of adjustment for the Oades family, but even that adjustment is just the beginning.  With much of the point of view focused on Margaret, the sudden shift to Henry’s viewpoint once Margaret and the kids disappear from his life is a bit jarring.  Readers could find that they are not as well connected with Henry and that he is not as developed as Margaret’s character.  This stumbling block can take a while to overcome, but then readers are thrust into another story, that of Nancy Foreland, a recently windowed, pregnant woman.

Despite these drawbacks, the struggle of Margaret and Nancy to adapt to a new situation in which they both find themselves as the wives of Henry Oades will keep readers turning the pages.  Overall, The Wives of Henry Oades by Johanna Moran is a detailed account of one family’s immigration journey and an exploration of what it truly means to be a family.

To win a copy of The Wives of Henry Oades by Johanna Moran (US/Canada):

1.  Leave a comment on this post about what court case you’ve found fascinating.
2.  Blog, tweet, Facebook, or otherwise spread the word about the giveaway and leave me a link in the comments.

Deadline March 18, 2010, at 11:59PM EST

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.

Check out her Website.

This book is my 15th book for the 2010 New Authors Challenge, and thus signifies my completion of the challenge, though I could be reading more new-to-me authors throughout the year.

If you are interested in the rest of the TLC Book Tour for The Wives of Henry Oades, check them out.


  1. I am not a follower of court cases and usually learn about a court case through reading fiction.

    An interesting court case was the trial of Scottboro Boys who were convicted based on the testimony of two white women who were stowaways on the same train as the Scottsboro boys and did not want their reputation ruined so told lies on the boys.


  2. I don't normally follow too many court cases. But the O.J. Simpson case seems to come to light every now and then, and was pretty interesting.
    mtakala1 AT yahoo DOT com

  3. Gwendolyn B. says

    Here's my Tweet: http://twitter.com/ASeaOfBooks/status/10682085280

    geebee.reads AT gmail DOT com

  4. Gwendolyn B. says

    I've been interested in this book since I first heard of it, and lately I've been reading quite a bit about the 19th Century American West. Thanks for the chance to win a copy.

    I have to admit to being drawn into the court cases covered by Dominick Dunne in Vanity Fair such as those of the Mendendez Brothers and Michael Skakel.

    geebee.reads AT gmail DOT com

  5. Anonymous says

    Please enter me in the contest as for court trials, OJ Simpson trial,thx for contest..
    [email protected]

  6. Susan Helene Gottfried says

    No need to enter me, darling. I'm dropping in to say thanks for the e-mail. I've got this posted at Win a Book for you.

  7. Please enter me in this giveaway!

    The most recent court case I've found fascinating was the controvesial Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (2010) which found that corporate funding of independent political ads can't be limited by the First Amendment.

    I tweeted:


    saemmerson at yahoo dot com

    Sarah E

  8. I don't really follow court cases. I did read Helter Skelter, about the Charles Manson case. It was pretty gruesome.


  9. Thanks for this giveaway. A court case that I found intriguing was the Holocaust denier case in Can. and England. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  10. Misusedinnocence says

    I always found the Lizzie Borden court case fascinating.

    [email protected]

  11. I blogged about the contest here.
    joannelong74 AT gmail DOT com

  12. The court case that I found fascinating concerned a serial rapist in Georgia because I provided information that helped the police to catch him.

    skkorman AT bellsouth DOT net

  13. Hi Serena, I'm glad you enjoyed the book even though you had a few issues with it. The premise really fascinates me (I haven't read it yet). Thanks so much for all the time and effort you put into reading "Wives". We greatly appreciate it!

  14. The Ramsay case is one I was always fascinated by. I just read a review for this on another blog. I think she liked it a bit better than you though. I'm definitely intrigued by the plot.


  15. distractedmusician says

    I'm not one to follow court cases that closely, but I have recently been following an abduction case in my community.

    I added a link to my sidebar here: http://thedmlibrary.blogspot.com

    alannakurt at gmail dot com

    Thanks for the great giveaway!

  16. Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks says

    Great review, Serena; I'm really looking forward to reading this … I have it on my TBR, no need to enter me in your giveaway.

    And 15 new authors already this year – congrats to you!

  17. Anonymous says

    this book facinates me…as far as court cases go…i don't follow them


  18. Dar: It was the slow beginning, but also Henry's character…I don't think that he was developed enough for us to follow him to America…I think we should have stayed with Margaret and then picked up when she arrived to meet up with her husband later on. Too many shifts.

  19. I loved this book. Sorry to hear you didn't like it as much. I was hooked by the story from the beginning. Was it just the slow beginning?

  20. No need to enter me because I recently won a copy of this book myself elsewhere. I'm excited to read it mainly on the NZ angle- I'll try to ignore the stilted writing you mention.

  21. I don't really follow court cases too much either, but with my son in law school he told me about a case he had to study. It was about a family that had a home built for them by Extreme Home Makeover….they sued ABC, Disney, and some others! Craziness.
    I would love a chance to win this one.
    joannelong74 AT gmail DOT com

  22. Sounds interesting. I would love to read this one very much.

    I read about the Claus Von Bulow attempted murder case and found it fascinating.

    fmlj94 at yahoo dot com

  23. A Bookshelf Monstrosity says

    I was recently following a local court case about an undercover police officer (unmarked car, no police lights) who hit and killed a little girl crossing the street. He got off.

    +1 I tweeted: http://twitter.com/bookmonstrosity/status/10321822423


  24. bermudaonion says

    The book does sound fascinating to me. I'm like Anna – I don't really follow trials, but I'll say the Lindbergh kidnapping trial. milou2ster(at)gmail.com

  25. Sounds like an interesting book, though it doesn't sound like you liked it much. We'll have to discuss when you come back to work.

    As for court cases, I don't really pay much attention to those. I did watch a documentary on the Nuremberg trials after WWII that was fascinating.

    I'm going to add this giveaway to my sidebar.

    Diary of an Eccentric
    diaryofaneccentric at hotmail dot com