Finalist for the Townsend Prize
“Pelletier’s writing is moving and enthralling . . . [she] keeps readers hooked right up to the book’s satisfying conclusion.” — Publishers Weekly
“A poignant, sometimes heart-rending, beautifully crafted, always gripping tale of loss and love, and the human need to try to set things right.” — Kevin Baker, author of The Big Crowd
Henry Plageman is a master secret-keeper. A former Lutheran minister, he lost his faith after losing his infant son, Jack, many years ago; his wife, Marilyn, remains consumed by grief. But Henry has another life—another woman and another child—unknown to Marilyn. His lover, Lucy, yearns for a man she can be with openly while their eight-year-old daughter, Blue, tries to make sense of her parents’ fractured lives.
The Half Wives follows these interconnected characters through one momentous day, May 22, 1897, the sixteenth anniversary of Jack’s birth. Marilyn distracts herself with charity work. Henry needs to talk his way out of the police station, where he has spent the night for disorderly conduct. Lucy must rescue the intrepid Blue, who has fallen in a saltwater well. Before long, the four will be drawn to the same destination—the city cemetery on the outskirts of San Francisco—where the collision of lives and secrets leaves no one unaltered.
“The developing San Francisco of the 1890s becomes a rich background for these three as they play out their messy, somber, intertwined fates.” — New York Times Book Review
“Gorgeous details . . . Rivets the reader’s attention to the last humbling page.” — Historical Novel Society