Friday, July 9, 2010

THE WIVES OF HENRY OADES -The Book With The Incongruous Cover

Don't let the dreamy lady on the cover fool you. She has little to do with the content and suggests nothing of the unusual and often journalistic-slash-Dragnet"Just the facts, ma'am" writing style, i.e., prose which is highly readable, perfectly suited to our "sound-bite" conditioned brains.

And neither does Cover Lady hint at the grittiness of the ordeals of the young and ambitious Henry Oades and the women he married or the subtle historical detail deftly inserted to add texture and a compelling verisimilitude. So forget the cover. It's the plot and the unemotional It-is-what-it-is delivery of it that's the thing.

I read the first half of the book in one sitting, it's that intriguing. It fit my criteria for a "good book." I like not to be able to anticipate the plot and I like to learn things as I go (I knew next to nothing about New Zealand's indigenous people and nothing at all about California's having had the death penalty for the crime of bigamy in the late 19th century) -- but I don't want to feel like I'm learning. I still want to be entertained. And for someone who likes poking around in history, the fact that the book is based on a possibly true incident is -- pardon the cliche -- icing on the cake.

The Wives of Henry Oades does lose some of its highly sustained momentum at the end, but it is still well worth your time. I definitely recommend it.

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