Thursday, February 25, 2010

Review and Blog Tour: The Wives of Henry Oades by Johanna Moran, Including Interview and Giveaway

Book: The Wives of Henry Oades by Johanna Moran
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: A+
From: The publisher (Ballantine Books)

When Lisa from TLC approached me to review this book for a blog tour, she said, "This title just screams "SUEY" to me, for some reason." How could I pass that up?

But the interesting thing was, she was totally right! I loved this book!

This is the story of Henry and his wife Margaret and their little family. They head off an on adventure to New Zealand during the late 1800's, because Henry gets a job there. Margaret tolerates the whole experience, but is counting the days until she can return back to England to be closer to her parents, and show them her new baby girl twins that were born shortly after arriving in New Zealand.

Just when we think things are all settled, and life is happy in New Zealand, something terrible happens. We're talking, truly truly terrible.

And seriously I wish I could stop the review RIGHT HERE because I totally don't want to give anything else away. I would LOVE anyone who decides to read this to go into it knowing pretty much nothing, as I did.

But that wouldn't be much of a review now, would it?

So, basically, their lives are ripped to pieces. And Henry is left to try and put things back together. From the title of this book, you may guess what he decides to do. Because of that decision, instead of putting things back together, he ends up causing even more stress and confusion. It's very interesting to see, in the end, how the situation is "solved." Also, it really makes you put yourself into their shoes and try to figure out what you would do... and I'm not sure the answer would be easy for any of us.

I truly loved the story. It had me from page one. But I think, even more than the story, I loved the writing style. Very clear and concise, and completely fitting the era of the story. Yet, as simple as it is, the emotion, and the humor, and the tragedy, all come through so very strongly.

Bottom line: I totally loved it!

As part of the blog tour, I get giveaway a copy of this book! I promise, you are going to want to enter for a chance to win and read this book! To enter, please comment by answering this question: Apart from your family, what would you miss the most if you had to travel and live for an extended time in a faraway place? Sorry, the publisher can only send to addresses in the US and Canada. The contest will be open one week, through Thursday, March 4. I will randomly pick and announce the winner on Friday, March 5. Don't forget to leave an email address so I can contact you for a mailing address. Thanks!

And now, without further ado, I'm happy to introduce the author, Johanna Moran, as a guest on my blog today! It was exciting for me to be able to ask her a few questions about her writing, the book and of course, to make her pick her FIVE important books!

-- I love your writing style, and I know I'm going to have a hard time describing it to my readers. (Simply because I have a hard time describing styles in general.) Do you have any particular authors you modeled it after? Or authors you aspire to be like? (Even if their styles are completely different than yours?)

Well, my writing has been called "spare," if that helps to pin my style down. I'm not big on description, long passages detailing a room or somebody's dress. Alice Munro is one of my favorite writers. She brings a story to life with an amazing economy of words.

-- I know you answered this in the interview in the back of the book, but so my readers can have some idea, can you tell us a little about the background of this book and how you came to write it?

More than a half-century ago, my father, a law professor, came across an abstract on the Henry Oades case and showed it to my mother, who was attempting to write short fiction in her nonexistent spare time. She was intrigued and gave thought to fleshing out the story, but that's as far as she got. She might have had three kids down with mumps that week, or a spectacular birthday party to host. In any event, five children and writing never did mesh. My mother squirreled the abstract away, perhaps thinking she'd get to it eventually. She gave it to me about ten years ago. The abstract did not delve into the interior life of either wife, and I was glad. I had my own vision almost immediately.

-- What are your plans for future books?

I'm working on a story about a friendship between two nineteenth-century prostitutes, one of whom was in fact murdered by Abraham Rothschild.

-- One of my favorite questions to ask: What would a perfect day be like for you?

There'd be no deadlines on this perfect day, no laundry to fold or groceries to buy. There'd be time to spend with my sweet husband doing just about anything, with time to spare to read and write.

-- Finally, a question I ask every author: What five books are most important or influential to you?

Only five? That's hard, but let's see...I could go way back and say The Catcher in the Rye and The Diary of Anne Frank. More recently: The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion, The Life of Pi, with its strange and memorable ending, andSuite Francaise.

Thanks so much Johanna for visiting my blog today! I truly loved the book and look forward to reading more from you.

Here's the complete list of the TLC Blog Tour stops for more reviews and opinions on the book:

Monday, February 15th: Luxury Reading
Wednesday, February 17th: Book Club Classics!
Thursday, February 18th: My Friend Amy
Friday, February 19th: Beth Fish Reads
Monday, February 22nd: Jenn’s Bookshelves
Tuesday, February 23rd: The 3 R’s Blog
Wednesday, February 24th: Savvy Verse and Wit
Thursday, February 25th: It’s All About Books
Friday, February 26th: Thoughts of an Evil Overlord
Monday, March 1st: Rundpinne
Tuesday, March 2nd: Peeking Between the Pages
Wednesday, March 3rd: A High and Hidden Place
Thursday, March 4th: The Literate Housewife Review
Friday, March 5th: Stephanie’s Confessions of a Book-aholic
Monday, March 8th: Bibliofreak
Tuesday, March 9th: A Lifetime of Books
Wednesday, March 10th: Starting Fresh

Don't forget to comment and enter the giveaway!


  1. AHHHHHH you mean I nailed it? I found the perfect reader for this book?? YAY!!

    I'm so happy you enjoyed the book, and it was great fun reading Johanna's interview! Thanks so much for participating in the book tour. We really appreciate all the time and effort you put into reading and reviewing "Wives"!!

  2. With that kind of recommendation, how can I pass this up?

    I think I'd miss my comfortable foods. In the travels I've made to foreign countries, that is what I've missed the most before. It's nice to try some things, but you really start to miss those things you loved from home (hello, milk).

  3. Wow, so glad you enjoyed this one! I have had my eye on it as I love that it takes place partly in New Zealand, my favorite country ever :-)

  4. I know exactly what I'd miss most, because I spent more than two years living overseas on a military base in Japan! Can I still enter? I missed Target and English-language bookstores (not many good books at the BX, and the library wasn't so good either. I did a LOT of online book shopping!

    And Tex-mex food.

  5. This sounds like a great book...
    What would I miss -- driving on the right side of the road, American accents, green money -- but it would be off set by a great adventure!
    Would love to be entered in the giveaway!

  6. I am so looking forward to reading this book so thank you for hosting a giveaway! I know what I would miss besides my family (assuming I wasn't living in Mexico) I would miss delicious Mexican food!

  7. I moved many, many times when I was growing up and in my young adulthood and always adjusted well. However, I've now lived in the same place for over thirty years and I know if I had to leave, the thing I would most miss is the sense of belonging to a community. Now that I know what it's like to belong and to have a history in a community, which is a something I didn't even know existed before I settled down, I don't know that I could ever move again.

  8. I don't really know! Maybe the ease shopping, probably familiar food and my fav restaurants. But I know I would miss my oh-so-nice comfort zone. :)

  9. Karen! Your number came up as the winner of this book! But I need an email so I can get your mailing address!



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