Wednesday, May 10, 2017

G847 Book Review of The half wives by Stacia Pelletier

Name of Book: The Half Wives

Author: Stacia Pelletier

ISBN: 978-0-547-49116-5

Publisher: HMH Books

Type of book: San Francisco California, 1897, death, life, cemetery, grief, second person narrative, mistress, marriage, wife, families, secrets

Year it was published: 2017


Over the course of one momentous day, two women who have built their lives around the same man find themselves moving toward an inevitable reckoning.

Former Lutheran minister Henry Plageman is a master secret keeper and a man wracked by grief. He and his wife, Marilyn, tragically lost their young son, Jack, many years ago. But he now has another child—a daughter, eight-year-old Blue—with Lucy, the woman he fell in love with after his marriage collapsed.

The Half Wives follows these interconnected characters on May 22, 1897, the anniversary of Jack’s birth. Marilyn distracts herself with charity work at an orphanage. Henry needs to wrangle his way out of the police station, where he has spent the night for disorderly conduct. Lucy must rescue and rein in the intrepid Blue, who has fallen in a saltwater well. But before long, these four  will all be drawn on this day to the same destination: to the city cemetery on the outskirts of San Francisco, to the grave that means so much to all of them. The collision of lives and secrets that follows will leave no one unaltered.


There are four main characters; that of Henry, Marilyn, Lucy and Blue. Henry is married to Marilyn and is wanting to keep the cemetery where it is in place rather than have it moved due to the fact his son is buried there. He is also, surprisingly, loyal to both women, to Marilyn and Lucy and wants to keep things status quo for fear of upsetting Marilyn. He previously used to be a preacher but then gave up that job and now runs a local store. Marilyn is Henry's wife who is frightened by change, especially to her son's anniversary. Things have to be done a certain way on that particular day. She also seems to be lost to herself and its difficult to say if she depends on Henry, or if he depends on her. Lucy is an adventurous young woman who is Henry's mistress and mother to his daughter Blue. Lucy is best described as more independent and someone who desires to make something of herself rather than keeping the long status quo. Blue is Lucy's extremely adventurous daughter who knows next to nothing about her father's other life and who rarely questions the status quo.


Lives can change in one day


The story is told in four voices, and three voices are in second person narrative voice. The voices are of Henry, the man that ties both women together, then there is Blue, his secret daughter who has first person narrative voice as well as Marilyn, Henry's wife and Lucy, who is Henry's long-time mistress. The story stretches throughout that one day, and its through one day does the reader examine the four lives and how this tragic event affects all of them. It's not a book to rush through, but instead it's something to slow down to and to enjoy.

Author Information:
(From the book)

Stacia Pelletier is the author of Accidents of Providence, short-listed for the Townsend Prize in fiction. She earned graduate degrees in religion and historical theology from Emory University in Atlanta.


The best way to describe this novel is slowly carving a masterpiece out of wood, and contemplating the next move. In the story, no stone or thought is left un-turned and no thought escapes the author's deft stroke of a pen. She slowly examines each character like a psychologist and discovers their truths, lies and motivations, especially on this day, Saturday, May 22nd, 1897. Through her examinations, the reader watches as grief destroys families in myriad ways, and how choices can make lives veer to a different path than originally planned, The whole story takes place over a whole day, and 96 percent of it, if not more is told in second person narrative which made it for an interesting read because the only time I've read second person narrative in a novel is Human Acts by Han Kang.

This is for HFVBT

5 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

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