In Marriage, Three's a Crowd; DEBUT FICTION
Byline: BY HEPHZIBAH ANDERSON
THE WIVES OF HENRY OADES BY JOHANNA MORAN (HarperPress [euro]16.99) THREE is notoriously a crowd in a marriage, but what if both women are legally wed to the same man? Inspired by a snippet of 19thcentury history, this readable saga begins as the Oades family sets sail for a stint in New Zealand. Margaret is still pining for England when she and the children are kidnapped by Maoris and carted off as slaves.
Grief-stricken hubby Henry eventually abandons his search for them, heading to California to forget. Margaret is made of sterner stuff. Shepherding her brood to freedom, she makes it halfway across the world to Henry's doorstep, only to be greeted by a second Mrs Oades. What happens next is as comical as it is poignant. Though a smattering of arcane lingo fails to disguise some jarringly modern dialogue, the novel's chatty tone is irresistible.
BEFORE THE EARTHQUAKE BY MARIA ALLEN (Tindal Street Press [euro]9.99) THIS tangled tale of life in hardscrabble southern Italy at the turn of the 20th century arrives courtesy of the same indie publishers responsible for Catherine O'Flynn's prize-winning debut, What Was Lost. …