Sunday 22 May 2011

The Ninth Wife by Amy Stolls

Bess Gray is a thirty-five year old folklorist who wants to settle down but can't find the right man.  At a singles party she meets Irish expatriate Rory and is swept off her feet.  However, when Rory proposes and Bess finds out that he has had not one, not two, but eight ex-wives, she must decide if she can cope with becoming wife number nine.

I really enjoyed the first half of this book.  The narrative switched between chapters from Bess' point of view about her developing relationship with Rory and chapters where Rory described each of his ex-wives.  Considering she had eight ex-wives to introduce, Stolls did a great job of keeping each story distinct and entertaining, and I loved reading these parts.  Stolls' writing was very good in general; the characters were vivid and the book hard to put down.

I also enjoyed some of the minor characters, especially Bess' grandparents Millie and Irv.  They had been married for sixty-five years and Stolls wrote their relationship honestly, showing the rough side of marriage as well as the smooth.  I was rooting for Millie and Irv to sort things out more than I was rooting for Bess and Rory. I also really liked the character of Gaia, a hippy pregnant woman.
In the second half of the book, Bess goes off on a bit of a quest to find Rory's ex-wives to find out if he has told the truth about them and to see if she can come to terms with his past.  For me personally, this section dragged a little bit in comparison to the first and it could have been shorter.  I enjoyed the part where Rory came face to face with his stalker ex-wife, Lorraine, but felt as though the other wives were all kind of telling Bess the same thing and the road trip seemed endless.

I also couldn't really understand Bess' attachment to Rory.  I'm not a swept off your feet kind of girl (I was in a relationship for seven years before getting engaged!), and all through the first section I was thinking: are you crazy for getting engaged?  You hardly know him at all!  This meant that for me, I was indifferent as to whether they ended up together in the end or not.  I was just along for the journey and the ex-wives.

Verdict: An entertaining read and an interesting story idea, well executed.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Source: ARC via NetGalley
Publisher: Harper Collins
Available: Now!


  1. Hey, i saw your post on Book Blogs. This sounds like an interesting story. I'll keep an eye out for it in the book shops.

    I see that you are reading Middlesex at the moment. I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts. I read it last year (before I started blogging so I dont have a review of it)and I thought it was one of the most fascinating books that I have read in a long time. Looking forward to your review. New Follower!

  2. Mmmm...don't think I'd stick with a boyfriend who had eight previous wives! Thank you for your review!

  3. Thanks for the review. Interesting reading I am sure - nine wives!

  4. @Deb - Neither would I! I would definitely be freaked out!