“The world is full of Rowenas, women who could cut you to the quick with their cruel appraisals of what they think you are. You have to know your own sacredness in order to endure them.” Kelly O’Connor McNees, In Need of a Good Wife
In Need of a Good Wife by Kelly O’Connor McNees was published in October of 2012 and is 400 pages. I “met” Kelly on Twitter and enjoy her quick wit and her taste in books, so I decided to read her novel, which I loved.
In post-Civil War New York, three women are imprisoned by their lives or pasts. From heartbreak and loss, to the alienation of being a poor immigrant, they find that they have nothing left to lose, so why not embark upon an adventure to the west?
The primary protagonist, Clara Bixby, works in the bar her father used to own, and is abandoned by her philandering husband. Elsa is a kind, lonely immigrant who is tired of working for the upper class, with no life or freedom of her own. Rowena is a feisty war widow with a mentally ill father and more debt than she can manage.
When Clara learns about a town in faraway Nebraska with an overpopulation of men and not enough women to tame its inhabitants, she devises a scheme to play matchmaker. Through a series of letters and newspaper ads, Clara attempts to find wives for these hard edged and hard up men, but gets more trouble than she bargained for.
From an unforgettable train ride west, a series of mismatches and misfits, and a town scandal, In Need of a Good Wife kept me turning pages long into the night. I read about the development of this area with interest, and was surprised many times by plot twists. The voices of each of the women in the novel are distinct and captivating, and even the scoundrels are human.
If you enjoy historical novels that illuminate little known places in the past and feature strong, fearless women, I highly recommend In Need of a Good Wife.
Purchase the novel or learn more about the author here: