The Half Wives by Stacia Pelletier is a story that takes place in 1897 in San Francisco. Henry and Marilyn are married and older now. They lost their son, Jack, years ago (on May 22nd) and each is dealing with the effects. Marilyn has not gotten over the loss and has alienated herself while Henry could not be helpful to her nor wait any longer for her affection. Marilyn busies herself (and thoughts) with volunteer work; Henry runs the local market/store and has a mistress, Lucy, and daughter with her named Blue. The story takes place in an area of San Francisco not far from a city cemetery.


A lot of things take place in present day, but the story of Marilyn and Henry’s marriage and their losing Jack is told in the form of memories of Marilyn and Henry. The start of Henry and Lucy’s relationship is told in the form of the memories of Henry and Lucy. Some other characters in the story is Mr. Kerr, he owns a cemetery and is helpful to Henry in fighting to keep the city cemetery. Ida is an orphan that Marilyn helps and then takes from the orphanage to accompany her to the cemetery. Mr. Stone is an acquaintance of Lucy’s and helps her in the beginning of the book and the end.

The story takes place over one day – May 22nd, the 14-year anniversary of Jack’s death. The story is told through the eyes of Henry, Marilyn, Lucy and Blue. On the anniversary of Jack’s death, Marilyn and Henry have a routine – Henry shows up to the cemetery at a certain time to spruce up Jack’s gravesite and Marilyn shows up later to admire it and pay respects. This year the whole day is riddled with setbacks, surprises, missteps and discoveries. The author explains that she used three unrelated historical events that happened around the same time in San Francisco to weave the stories of Henry, Marilyn, Lucy and Blue together. It is well done too.

Overall, I liked the story; I found the notion of Henry’s “second life” intriguing and wanted to read about it. At first, I thought Henry was a total for leading two lives, having two families, etc., but my opinion of Henry changed as I continued reading. In the end, I admired Henry’s dedication to keeping Marilyn’s life as “normal” as she made it and his commitment to Lucy and Blue as a pseudo husband and father. My favorite character in the story is Lucy because of quiet and conservative demeanor. I like that some people perceived her as strong or fearless. I recommend this book to anyone looking for an interesting historical, romantic fiction novel. I borrowed the book from one of my local libraries, but if you want to purchase it, you can purchase the hardcover (and other versions) on Barnes & Noble for $26.00 or on Amazon for $14.98 (if you’re a Prime member) or $26.00.

If you read this book or have read this book, let me know what you think about it in the comments!


*Prices quoted are for the hardcover copy of the book. Other copies are different prices. Please check before purchasing.*

**Price quoted for Barnes & Noble is the online price; prices may vary in stores and I recommend calling the store you intend to purchase the book from to verify the price before heading out there to buy it.**