By Amy Stolls
Harper Paperbacks, $14.99
From the publisher: What sane woman would consider becoming any man's ninth wife?
Bess Gray is a thirty-five-year-old folklorist and amateur martial artist living in Washington, DC. Just as she's about to give up all hope of marriage, she meets Rory, a charming Irish musician, and they fall in love. But Rory is a man with a secret, which he confesses to Bess when he asks for her hand: He's been married eight times before. Shocked, Bess embarks on a quest she feels she must undertake before she can give him an answer. With her bickering grandparents (married sixty-five years), her gay neighbor (himself a mystery), a shar-pei named Stella, and a mannequin named Peace, Bess sets out on a cross-country journey—unbeknownst to Rory—to seek out and question the wives who came before. What she discovers about her own past is far more than she bargained for.
The Ninth Wife really surprised me. I knew that this book would either be really great, or really not. One of the other. Hit or miss. It's a hit! Author Amy Stolls has written an interesting and thought provoking saga of a man with quite a past and a woman wanting a future.
While we are learning about Bess and Rory, Stolls wisely introduces Bess' grandparents into the mix, as I think they serve as not only a mirror into her own family past, they also serve as a window in which to see the joy and heartache that revolves around a long marriage. At the time, I got the impression that I was reading two novels with overlapping characters. Normally for me, that wouldn't be a good thing, but in The Ninth Wife....it WORKS! Amy Stolls somehow managed to write the character of Rory as a likable and endearing guy! Who'd a thunk it? And somehow Bess was reacting and thinking the way I was...most of the time.
Stolls also throws in some unique friends and neighbors...and the wonderful Stella to complete the secondary characters. Some of those will also grab your heart. I think The Ninth Wife is a perfect read this summer, just don't think this is another piece of fluff. It's a thinking reader's book, that won't make your head hurt. BUT it will make your heart and mind grow as the story comes to an end.
I give it 3 1/2 out of 5 stars.
This galley was provided to me by the publisher through NetGalley and in no way affected my review.