Review: In Need of a Good Wife by Kelly O’Connor McNees

In Need of a Good Wife by Kelly O’Connor McNees
Release Date: October 2, 2012
Publisher:  Penguin
Pages: 382
Source:  Publisher

Richly detailed, vivid, and unforgettable, this is an extraordinary novel about three women challenging the American West—and unpredictable fate—for a future only the most daring can secure…

For Clara Bixby, brokering mail-order brides is a golden business opportunity—and a desperately needed chance to start again. If she can help New York women find husbands in a far-off Nebraska town, she can build an independent new life away from her own loss and grief.

Clara’s ambitions are shared by two other women, who are also willing to take any risk. Quiet immigrant Elsa hopes to escape her life of servitude and at last shape her own destiny. And Rowena, the willful, impoverished heiress, jumps at the chance to marry a humble stranger and repay a heartbreaking debt. All three struggle to find their true place in the world, leaving behind who they were in order to lay claim to the person they want to be. Along the way, each must face unexpected obstacles and dangerous choices, but they also help to forge a nation unlike any that came before.


Review: In Need of a Good Wife follows three characters; Clara, who has suffered the loss of a child and her husband who ran away with a laundress. Rowena, whose father went mad and husband went off to war and died, leaving her virtually penniless and alone. And Elsa, a plump laundress whose faith sustains her through everything.

Clara is a strong woman used to dealing with the hardships of life. I can’t say I overly liked or disliked her…instead I will say I had much respect and admiration for how strong she stays throughout the book. The only time she showed “weakness” was when a migraine threatened to overtake her and Elsa helped her through it. Her husband, George, kept me guessing through much of the book.

I thought Rowena was going to be the sweet young woman in this novel when I first read her story; instead she’s a cunning, manipulative, backstabbing witch who uses trickery and thievery to get her way. You really hope that she changes her tune, but it takes a long time for her to get her full comeuppance.

Elsa is the character I loved most in this book. Straight forward, God-abiding Elsa just wants to find her place in the world and live a good life. She has no delusions that she or the man she goes to take care of will fall in love and get married; she just wants to enjoy life. She really grows from a meek woman throughout the book with a little help.

This is a very well researched and thought out novel. I had a very hard time putting it down once I started reading it as I enjoyed following each woman’s journey throughout. I look forward to reading other novels by this extremely talented author as she doesn’t follow the path most taken, but follows her own.



2 thoughts on “Review: In Need of a Good Wife by Kelly O’Connor McNees

  1. Jenny says:

    This could have been a good book, but I found it boring. It’s definitely not a romance. It’s woman’s fiction and at the end, you have to imagine what will be their future. It can be happy or not. It’s an open ending which are the type of books that I hate.

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