Blog Book Tour | “The Half Wives” by Stacia Pelletier

Posted Friday, 5 May, 2017 by jorielov , , 0 Comments

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Acquired Book By: I am a regular tour hostess for blog tours via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours whereupon I am thankful to have been able to host such a diverse breadth of stories, authors and wonderful guest features since I became a hostess! I received a complimentary copy of “The Half Wives” direct from the publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Why I was interested in reading this story:

I am consistently looking for original voices in fiction. Of finding story-tellers who tell dramatic stories of characters moving through a period of their life where the journey towards their destination is as realistically convicting as the hours spent understanding their character’s sociological portrait. This felt like a psychologically charged dramatic historical about grief, loss and the difficulties which arise from trying to find a measure of solace out of the unthinkable. However, more to the point, it was when the premise presented a curious antidote on the characters’ behalf: how the cross-section of lives to intersect in one singular location (at a graveyard, no less) where the worsted and hidden secrets of their lives would not only become revealled but in so doing, their fragile state of mind might be awakened to more than the grief stilling their soul from carrying forward with the living.

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Blog Book Tour | “The Half Wives” by Stacia PelletierThe Half Wives

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.

Former Lutheran minister Henry Plageman is a master secret keeper and a man wracked by grief. He and his wife, Marilyn, tragically lost their young son, Jack, many years ago. But he now has another child—a daughter, eight-year-old Blue—with Lucy, the woman he fell in love with after his marriage collapsed.

The Half Wives follows these interconnected characters on May 22, 1897, the anniversary of Jack’s birth. Marilyn distracts herself with charity work at an orphanage. Henry needs to wrangle his way out of the police station, where he has spent the night for disorderly conduct. Lucy must rescue and rein in the intrepid Blue, who has fallen in a saltwater well. But before long, these four will all be drawn on this day to the same destination: to the city cemetery on the outskirts of San Francisco, to the grave that means so much to all of them. The collision of lives and secrets that follows will leave no one unaltered.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9780547491165

on 4th April, 2017

Pages: 336

Published By: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, (@HMHCo)
Available Formats: Hardback & E-Book

Converse via: #TheHalfWives + #HistFic or #HistoricalFiction

About Stacia Pelletier

Stacia Pelletier

Stacia Pelletier is the author of Accidents of Providence, which was short-listed for the Townsend Prize in Fiction, and the forthcoming The Half Wives. She earned graduate degrees in religion and historical theology from Emory University in Atlanta. A two-time fellow of the Hambidge Center, located in the mountains of North Georgia, she currently lives in Decatur, Georgia, and works at Emory University’s School of Medicine.

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My review of the half wives:

I must say, this is a first for me in a long time: to find a narrative voice so distinctively male. Most narratives you can imagine in your own way of thinking through stories – even if the lead characters are men, if the story is writ by a women, there is lint to the narrative that is decidedly female. Not so, in The Half Wives. It is one of those rare literary feasts which begins on a joltingly shifty stream of consciousness which takes you on a wild ride through [Henry] ‘s state of mind at the point he’s jailed. He’s going on at scathing pace about plots and cemeteries – why prime real estate and land is wasted on the dead (his words) and why there is such a bug-a-boo about wanting to do something else with [said land].

Honestly, it might be one of the more unique openers to a historical drama I have encountered of late; as part of me understood his streaming thoughts and the other half of me wondered if I had entered the Twilight Zone where up is down and down is up. It’s not traditionally voiced, paced nor writ – meaning, when you first take entrance into this novel, it exhibits it’s own style of the craft. This isn’t particularly a turn-off but it was quite uniquely different to the brink, I had second-guessed which story I was about to entreat inside? If you are a movie-goer – do you know how you get inundated with trailers and teasers to the level you nearly forget ‘which’ film you bought tickets to see? Similar to that feeling is how I felt inside the first several pages of this novel. Almost as if the plot I expected was not entirely present but a different plot had taken over from the seed of the plot I had expected to find.

Henry is an emotional mess – he’s far more concerned about the well-being of his wife than he is for the short-term inconvenience to be jailed. He questions the logistics of being stuck in this cell when he is most needed by his wife’s side; to help her through this transitional day when neither of them know how best to live through it again. It’s the day their son died; the tragedy re-playing in memory and the anguish of their loss being re-felt each year they step forward away from his grave. The gutting reality of how time might clock into the future when the will to find buoyancy in those hours is fractured against the grief which feels unending. It is simply a measure of ‘moments’ ahead of the next year’s fateful day where they move through the motions of where their grief has stopped in the void of numbed sorrow. He finds his life a consternation of regrets, wrong turns and of late, a solemn reminder his past professional life as a minister did not grant his parishioners a man to look up towards but one to pity.

Marilyn is betwixt finding the courage to move past her son’s death and for perpetually subjecting herself to the guilt of his loss each year his date of death emerges onto the calendar. She’s psychologically and emotionally disinterested in everything but at the same time, a small flicker of ‘something’ lights her mood with a questioning internal quaking of ‘should she or shouldn’t she’ feel the way in which she does ‘right now’. Her mood surprises her here, as she has locked herself into feeling the vacancy of hours; of muddling through the time without owning how she walks through the threshold of the minutes.

You can feel the brevity of their grief and the gravity of how their world imploded when their son was lost to them in this world. Yet, you cannot help but hope – one day they can transition through the next stages of grief and loss, to embark towards a renewing sense of peace, knowing their son is at peace himself and wouldn’t want to find them re-living his last day in such a quagmire of emotional self-recrimination. They each are dealing with things separate from one another; unwilling or unable to voice what is truly weighing on their heart; stealing their thoughts and crushing their souls. They need to find a way to reconnect, to speak about what is being left unsaid and unacknowledged but neither remembers how to do that; instead they move through the motions without knowing how much longer they can tarry on at this dulled pace of living.

Her husband quit the ministry because he could no longer help others who suffered such as he was now. He wanted something straight-forward and structured; a brick and mortar business which was efficiently run by itself; or so he hoped; but his wife intervened on his inability to run it professionally. She, on the other hand spent her hours lost in the shifting tides of charity work; where she would pick a new focus as often as she could to devout her hours and to unwind her thoughts from what bothered her most. They were functioning but only just barely. You can tell how difficult it was for each of them to bear the weight of their anguish but they were unable to break free from the self-bondage of emotional guilt. Marilyn also questioned her faith – did she even dare admit it was gone?

Henry has his fair share of secrets – a daughter out of wedlock and an adulterous affair, of whom whose mother Lucy is filled to the brim with her own regretful thoughts and past choices of inaction. She finds herself moving towards Henry but how can she trust her instincts when there’s Marilyn to consider; of whom is the innocent in this triangle. Her worries are on her daughter Blue, whose focused self-study of the natural world (especially on marine biology) gets her into pickles of danger and of alarmingly unusual circumstances; is in need of knowing her father. She vacillates by what is the better course of action now.

Each of them are arriving at the critical hour – of where a rendezvous of souls and of memory are colliding together. They each bring their own share of baggage – none of them are free of blame for how desolate time has become nor of how none of them have managed to be honest with themselves. Save Blue, as she is still too young to understand the fuller picture of the complexities but is in-tune enough for a girl her age to understand the subtleties. If time is kind and if memory can serve to re-order the will of man – how then can unity out of despair bridge the lives of the half wives of Henry who are caught between obligation and the immeasurable grief of burying one’s child? Their his half wives because he only ever gave each of them half of his heart and half of his soul: he’s a fractured man splintered between two loves and two different paths in which he elected to live two different lives.

on the historical styling of stacia pelletier:

Pelletier has her own spin on how to introduce you to her characters, as they are not writ in the method of first person nor in the style of a narrative third-person (or so I think that’s the right term; describing how stories are written isn’t my strong suit when it comes to terminology; a credit to being dyslexic and seeing it all a bit differently than how it’s meant to be structured) but rather, she has her characters speaking to themselves as if they are actors taking cues and introducing themselves to the audience. It’s a nervy style because it can make or break the reader’s attention on the heart of where the story is leading them to travel. For me, it took me several chapters to understand her personal writing voice and by then, I saw why this became the voice of the story itself.

Although this novel began with a male voice of narrative, it shifted into a female voice of narrative as soon as Marilyn was introduced and then, the two styles of voice volleyed with each new chapter and section. It’s a duality of tone and perspective; where how a man would articulate his feelings differs from that of how a woman might share hers. They each presented their lives with a different focus of interest or disinterest; each trying to keep ‘busy’ in order to stop ‘living’ a regular life their neighbours enjoy themselves. If anything, this is a story about the fracture of time between the sudden death of a child and the moment where the parents have to find a way to reconcile their grief if they have any hope of finding the light once again in a world which has dimmed since their young son was alive. You can feel the hardships of their loss but also the emptiness of how being untethered and unanchoured to each other cast them adrift without a life raft.

Pelletier has her own styling for dialogue – as she inserts spoken conversations with an “-” rather than the traditional “..” sequences. In this, it is nearly as if we’ve found a journal accounting for this passage of time in Henry and Marilyn’s life; of someone trying to write down the specifics but not wanting to be waylaid in the conversations as much as the internal strife and ruminative thoughts percolating through the lead characters’ minds. She moves the story forward intuitively and organically how a grieving couple might feel like shifting forward without making any distance at all from the past (when their son was alive) to where they are in the present (in the aftermath of their loss).  She’s tackling a hard topic to explore and stitches into her narrative the wells of truth by how each person has to ultimately write their own ‘next chapter’ of how life will re-establish meaning and purpose when the burden of grief is enough to cast a pallor of ash on your soul.

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This blog tour is courtesy of: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

The Half Wives by Stacia PelletierFun Stuff for Your Blog via

{SOURCES: Cover art of “The Half Wives”, book synopsis, author biography, author photograph of Stacia Pelletier and the tour badge were all provided by HFVBTs (Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours) and used with permission. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Tweets embedded by codes provided by Twitter. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: Book Review Banner using (Creative Commons Zero) Photography by Frank McKenna and the Comment Box Banner.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2017.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • 2017 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Friday, 5 May, 2017 by jorielov in 19th Century, Blog Tour Host, Death, Sorrow, and Loss, Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, Indie Author, Vulgarity in Literature

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