Former Lutheran minister Henry Plageman is a master secret keeper and a man wracked by grief. Read more...
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.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2017-02-27
- Reviewer: Staff
Pelletiers (Accidents of Providence) excellent second novel chronicles May 22, 1897, as it unfolds in San Francisco for Marilyn Plageman; her ex-pastor husband, Henry; Henrys mistress of 10 years, taxidermist Lucy Christensen; and their daughter, Blue. After their son, Jack, died on his second birthday, Marilyn rebuffed her husbands affections. Four years later, Henry met Lucy and began an affair with her. Marilyn has remained in the dark for many years, volunteering for charitable causes and longing to communicate with Henry while pushing him away. On what would have been Jacks 16th birthday, everyone is on a path that leads to the cemetery where he is buried. Henrys running late for his annual ritual of planting flowers at Jacks grave site because he spent the night in jail after fighting to save the cemetery from being disinterred and turned into oceanfront property. Marilyn plans to disrupt Henrys routine; she brings along an orphaned child she befriended at the opening of an orphanage. Blue is recovering from having fallen through a skylight at a pump station where Lucy was trying to glean information for an article she planned on selling to the local paper. Lucy, who has managed to stay away from Henry for four months, is worried about how the separation will affect Blue, who longs for her fathers company, and feels the need to bring Blue to see Henry at the cemetery. Pelletiers writing is moving and enthralling and conveys the conflict at the heart of the book: He was never going to marry you, Lucy tells herself, But hes not married to Marilyn either. Hes yoked to that child in the ground, that child the city wants to move. Pelletier keeps readers hooked right up to the books satisfying conclusion. (Apr.)