REVIEW: The Second Mrs. Hockaday by Susan Rivers
THE SECOND MRS. HOCKADAY by Susan Rivers is an excellent historical mystery portrayed through letters and journal entries, unraveling an engrossing tale. For those who love the Civil War era, this novel will surely suck you right in.
The book starts out with a letter from Placidia to her cousin Millie where she describes the day she met her future husband. It then bounces to Placidia describing how she will be released from jail by bond in a couple days. The reader is led on a merry chase by Millie who is trying to convince Placidia to tell the truth, instead of keeping it to herself. Millie is a wonder of entertainment in her description of her life. Some would call it babbling, but I thought it was true to the time and amusing. Placidia reciprocates by evading all Millie’s concerns and telling her stories from her life. Their correspondence goes back and forth as the mystery of what happened unravels.
Placidia tells Millie how Major Gryffyth Holliday arrives at their home to buy a mule. Since her sister is about to get married, Placidia’s father invites the major to join the festivities. It doesn’t take long for Placidia’s horse breaking talent and baking to garner the major’s attention. His wife recently died while he was away at war. Gryff needs to get back to his duties and wants Placidia to run his farm, as well as care for his young son. There is attraction between them, so Placidia accepts.
Their marriage begins and ends quickly when Gryff returns to the war. They try to meet when he can get leave, but another battle keeps them apart. Placidia is left with the farm, servants and a child at a time when the country is torn apart. She gradually unravels before our eyes and we’re fed details and suspicions about what happened.
Although the volume of characters introduced can sometimes be overwhelming, it authenticates the period. Toward the end, I did become confused when the history became more advanced and it was Pacidia’s offspring who were unraveling the mystery. That said, my confusion makes me want to read this novel again. Perhaps in my own urgent need to reach the end, I overlooked important transitions which would have made it smoother.
My only disappointment is that I want more. I’m curious about the effects of solving the mystery on Placidia’s descendants. Will they share what they know with the entire family or keep it secret?
THE SECOND MRS. HOCKADAY is an excellent, well-researched and riveting historical piece of fiction. Not necessarily a romance, this book contains great passion and endurance. Their war-time world represents those who endure combat in their homeland, never coming out unscathed, but grateful for a scrap of love to come home to, as well as to hold onto when the nightmares threaten to consume them. I highly recommend THE SECOND MRS. HOCKADAY to those who love a story told through letters and journal entries. It’s one of my favorite ways to read a well-plotted novel because it reveals only a glimpse, one letter at a time, which results in an enthralling suspense. Honest and gripping, this story will tear out your heart and mend it along with the characters’ lives.
Reviewed by Dorine, courtesy of The Zest Quest. Digital advanced reader copy provided by the publisher through NetGalley for an honest review.
The Second Mrs. Hockaday by Susan Rivers
Publisher: Algonquin Books (January 10, 2017)
Rated 4.5 out of 5
Do you enjoy stories told through letters or journal entries?