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The wives of Henry Oades : a novel / Johanna Moran.

By: Moran, Johanna.
Material type: materialTypeLabelBookPublisher: New York : Ballantine Books, 2010Description: 353 pages ; 21 cm.Content type: text Media type: unmediated Carrier type: volumeISBN: 9780007339419 (pbk.).Subject(s): Immigrants -- New Zealand -- Fiction | Immigrants -- United States -- California -- Fiction | Bigamy -- Fiction | Kidnapping victims -- Fiction | Polygamy -- Fiction | Families -- New Zealand -- Fiction | Kidnapping -- Fiction | New Zealand -- Emigration and immigration -- History -- 19th century -- Fiction | New Zealand -- History, 1876-1907 -- Fiction | Florida -- Fiction | New Zealand -- Fiction | New Zealand -- History -- 19th century -- Fiction | San Francisco (Calif.) -- History -- 19th century -- FictionGenre/Form: Historical fiction. | Domestic fiction.
Contents:
In 1890, Henry Oades decided to undertake the arduous sea voyage from England to New Zealand in order to further his family's fortunes. Here they settled on the lush but wild coast - although it wasn't long before disaster struck in the most unexpected of ways.
Summary: "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 theyve both found happiness in the midst of their mourning until Henrys first wife and children show up, alive and having finally escaped captivity." --Publisher description.
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Enhanced descriptions from Syndetics:

In 1899 Henry Oades discovers he has two wives - and many dilemmas...

In 1890, Henry Oades decided to undertake the arduous sea voyage from England to New Zealand in order to further his family's fortunes. Here they settled on the lush but wild coast - although it wasn't long before disaster struck in the most unexpected of ways.

"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 theyve both found happiness in the midst of their mourning until Henrys first wife and children show up, alive and having finally escaped captivity." --Publisher description.

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Excerpt provided by Syndetics

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 s Excerpted from The Wives of Henry Oades: A Novel by Johanna Moran All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Reviews provided by Syndetics

Library Journal Review

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 (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly Review

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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Kirkus Book Review

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. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.