“I guess I just get angry that people can have lots of relationships that no one would blink an eye at, but because mine have formal labels the get listed against me somehow, and the get lumped together as if they’re all equal, but they’re not.” p. 101*
Title: The Ninth Wife
Author: Amy Stolls
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: Harper Paperbacks
Source: Review copy from publisher
When she starts dating Rory, Bess thinks she’s finally found her future husband. But his proposal is a bit overshadowed by the news that he has been married 8 times. Naturally, she is a bit apprehensive. So she sets out on a cross country road trip with her grandparents, her gay neighbor, his dog, and a mannequin named Peace. Along the way, Bess searches for Rory’s previous wives in hopes of discovering her answer.
The Ninth Wife is a thoughtful look at marriage in today’s world. Each of Rory’s marriages were different. Some lasted longer than others. Some were the result of true love, while some were more done out of convenience. Through each story, through the 65-year marriage of Bess’ grandparents, and through Bess and Rory’s own tale, we see the worry that often goes along with marriage – will this work out? is it inevitably going to end? does s/he really love me?
But The Ninth Wife is about more than marriage, it is about friendship, family, and identity. It is about how we’re all trying to find our place in the world, whether it is next to another or not.
At first I thought this was going to be lighter women’s fiction. But the second half of the story becomes much more serious and thought-provoking. After closing the book, I found mind wandering back to it. It was like Stolls sucked me in with the promise of a lighthearted book and then held me captive when it turned more serious. And I wasn’t disappointed.
The Ninth Wife felt almost like two separate books. In part one, the story alternates chapters between a third person narrative of Bess’ life and how she is falling for Rory and Rory’s first-person tale of his many, many wives. Then, in part two, the story becomes about Bess’ road trip. Rory still has his role, but it is smaller and his first-person narrative is gone. I enjoyed this change halfway through the book – at 496 pages it’s a fairly lengthy novel and the variation kept me on my toes.
Stolls did something interesting with The Ninth Wife that is worth checking out. This book is funny, touching, and full of hope and Bess is a wonderful heroine in her own, unique love story.
Others’ Thoughts: Raging Bibliomania; That’s What She Read
Buy It Now: Powell’s; IndieBound; The Book Depository; Amazon
*Page numbers refer to the advanced copy and may differ in the published version.
Sounds like the author took alot of great elements (relationships, quirky characters, road trip) and created something memorable. While I can get tired of the “woman trying to find herself” routine, this seems to have something more going for it. Nice review.
I loved this book, and thought that the dual narrative strategy really worked. I also loved all the other quirky characters, and thought that they really contrasted the love story between Bess and Rory. It was a great read for me, and totally not what I had been expecting. I had thought it was going to be a book about polygamy!
I love it when a book turns out to be more complex and powerful than expected. The author’s use of a dual narrative interests me and I think it’s great that Stolls gives us a man’s viewpoint! I like that the author takes the common them about a woman finding herself and does something unique and different with it. Marriage is an weighty issue that some people enter into with not a lot of thought. But marrying another person potentially impacts quite a lot of people. it sounds like Stolls has written a captivating story with terrific, interesting characters and one that stays with you for a while.
Thank you for a great review!
Sounds like this one’s a thinker and I love those!
Yay! I’m so glad you liked this one. The main subject of this could have been disastrous for the novel, but I think Stolls does a tremendous job of adding weight to a humorous premise. I also fell in love with Bess as she tries to find her true path.
This book looks wonderful, Michelle! The premise of the book is really interesting and hooks the reader in. Thanks for introducing it to us! I will keep an eye for it at the bookstore.
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