The Wives of Henry Oades is inspired by a widely distributed newspaper article. In the late 19th century, Henry and Margaret Oades emigrate from England to New Zealand. There, Margaret and her children are abducted by Maori and eventually given up for dead. Grief stricken, Henry sails to California, where, many years later, he marries a young widow, Nancy Foreland. When Margaret and her surviving children show up on their doorstep, Henry and Nancy take them in, and all attempt to adapt. Berkeley townspeople rise up against the apparent debauched arrangement. Henry is charged with bigamy, a crime punishable by hanging. As their
The Wives of Henry Oades
legal troubles mount, Margaret and Nancy find themselves allying in ways neither could have predicted. The story at heart is theirs. Readers will probably take sides, and will no doubt be divided. Both women have a rightful, lawful stake.
Mom-Her arms were too full to write
“More than a half-century ago, my father, a law professor, came across an abstract on the Oades case, and showed it to my mother, who was attempting to write short fiction in her nonexistent spare time. She was intrigued and gave thought to fleshing out the story, but that’s as far as she got. She might have had three kids down with mumps that week or a
spectacular birthday party to host.
In any event, five children and writing never did mesh. My mother squirreled the abstract away, perhaps thinking she’d get to it eventually. She gave it to me about ten years ago. I was drawn in immediately and went from there.”