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.