The Second Mrs. Hockaday by Susan Rivers

the second mrs. hockaday

This is an interesting historical fiction novel set during the Civil War that chronicles the difficult life of Placidia Finchler who is raised in privilege and then is thrown into hardship at age 17 when her new husband is sent away to rejoin the war after their brief honeymoon.  The story is told through letters, diaries, and court records, revealing how she came to be married to Major Hockaday, a recent widower.  When he returns to the war, Placidia suddenly finds herself in an unfamiliar place, alone, and in charge of his farm and young son.  When he returns after 2 years, he finds that Placidia had been pregnant and is accused of murdering the child. She will not reveal what happened because she wants to protect someone who had protected her. The truth of what happens eventually unfolds over the course of the book. This is a relatively short book, but I didn’t find it to be a fast pace or quick read.  I usually love most books published by Algonquin; however, I wasn’t over the moon about this one like I expected, although I did enjoy it.  The story was good, but I didn’t feel as attached to the characters as I felt I should be.  I was enticed to find out what happened, but felt that took a little too long to unfold.  In addition, although usually stories going back and forth in time aren’t a problem for me, I think this time it contributed to my lack of a strong connection.  If you are a fan of epistolary books, historical fiction (especially the Civil War period), and books with strong female characters or a bit of a mystery, I would still recommend this book.



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