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.
Finalist for the Townsend Prize
“Pelletier’s writing is moving and enthralling . . . [she] keeps readers hooked right up to the book’s satisfying conclusion.” — Publishers Weekly
“A poignant, sometimes heart-rending, beautifully crafted, always gripping tale of loss and love, and the human need to try to set things right.” — Kevin Baker, author of The Big Crowd
Henry Plageman is a master secret-keeper. A former Lutheran minister, he lost his faith after losing his infant son, Jack, many years ago; his wife, Marilyn, remains consumed by grief. But Henry has another life—another woman and another child—unknown to Marilyn. His lover, Lucy, yearns for a man she can be with openly while their eight-year-old daughter, Blue, tries to make sense of her parents’ fractured lives.
The Half Wives follows these interconnected characters through one momentous day, May 22, 1897, the sixteenth anniversary of Jack’s birth. Marilyn distracts herself with charity work. Henry needs to talk his way out of the police station, where he has spent the night for disorderly conduct. Lucy must rescue the intrepid Blue, who has fallen in a saltwater well. Before long, the four will be drawn to the same destination—the city cemetery on the outskirts of San Francisco—where the collision of lives and secrets leaves no one unaltered.
“The developing San Francisco of the 1890s becomes a rich background for these three as they play out their messy, somber, intertwined fates.” — New York Times Book Review
“Gorgeous details . . . Rivets the reader’s attention to the last humbling page.” — Historical Novel Society
“Pelletier’s writing is moving and enthralling and conveys the conflict at the heart of the book …[she] keeps readers hooked right up to the book’s satisfying conclusion.”—Publishers Weekly
“Pelletier’s second novel unfolds a complex story in the span of twenty-four hours…[The author] expertly fills in the backstory—introspection and memories mingle smoothly with the present…Well-crafted characters struggling alone with shared grief furnishes a coursing river on which this intriguing story effortlessly flows. Tough to put down.”—Kirkus Reviews
“The Half Wives is a profoundly hypnotic and mesmerizing work. The characters do not capture you as much as claim you, as the writing—languid, heartbreaking, and hopeful—pulls you deep into their world. The backdrop of Old San Francisco comes gloriously alive, as though the mist of the city itself rose from every page.”—Kathy Hepinstall, author of Blue Asylumand others
“Stacia Pelletier’s The Half Wives is set in the past, but it is a story for any time: a poignant, sometimes heart-rending, beautifully crafted, always gripping tale of loss and love, and the human need to try to set things right. A great read.”—Kevin Baker, author of The Big Crowd
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