The Second Mrs. Hockaday

The Second Mrs. Hockaday

“All I had known for certain when I came around the hen house that first evening in July and saw my husband trudging into the yard after lifetimes spent away from us, a borrowed bag in his hand and the shadow of grief on his face, was that he had to be protected at all costs from knowing what had happened in his absence. I did not believe he could survive it.”When Major Gr...

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Title:The Second Mrs. Hockaday
Author:Susan Rivers
Rating:
ISBN:1616205814
Edition Language:English
Format Type:Hardcover
Number of Pages:272 pages

The Second Mrs. Hockaday Reviews

  • Robin
    Mar 22, 2016

    This novel about a young woman who is thrust into a hard life as the wife of an absent soldier and farmer during the American Civil War is told through letters, diaries, and other documents. At only 17 years old, and after only one week at her new home, she is left alone to care for her husband's farm and his son by his previous marriage as he returns to the battle front. When he finally returns two years later, he finds his young wife has given birth to another man's child in his absence, and i

    This novel about a young woman who is thrust into a hard life as the wife of an absent soldier and farmer during the American Civil War is told through letters, diaries, and other documents. At only 17 years old, and after only one week at her new home, she is left alone to care for her husband's farm and his son by his previous marriage as he returns to the battle front. When he finally returns two years later, he finds his young wife has given birth to another man's child in his absence, and is being accused of murdering the infant.

    I struggled to read this at first, because all dialogue described through the letters or journals is completely unquoted. I'm not sure why, because any quote should be in quotation marks, regardless of whether it's within a letter or diary or not. It was very difficult to know whether the start of a sentence was going to be narrative or dialogue until you reached the end of the sentence. It felt very disjointed.

    But the other reviewers seemed to rave about it, so I stuck with it, and it did get easier to read. However, I found myself simply not caring very much about the characters or what happened to them, and I struggled to finished it.

    Advanced review copy from publisher via NetGalley. My opinions are my own.

  • Erin
    Mar 31, 2016

    Find this and other reviews at:

    I’m going to be entirely honest and admit that I picked up Susan Rivers’ The Second Mrs. Hockaday because it looked absolutely nothing like The Sun King Conspiracy. I’d just finished the latter and I didn’t want anything to ruin the high I’d gotten off reading it so I intentionally looked around for something different. I’d an ARC of Rivers’ debut on hand and the description bore so little resemblance to the French intrigue

    Find this and other reviews at:

    I’m going to be entirely honest and admit that I picked up Susan Rivers’ The Second Mrs. Hockaday because it looked absolutely nothing like The Sun King Conspiracy. I’d just finished the latter and I didn’t want anything to ruin the high I’d gotten off reading it so I intentionally looked around for something different. I’d an ARC of Rivers’ debut on hand and the description bore so little resemblance to the French intrigue that I thought it’d make a decent transition piece, but I was wrong. I was very, very wrong.

    The Second Mrs. Hockaday is a fantastic novel in its own right and I’m a little ashamed of having underestimated it. It’s a quick read, loosely based on real people and events, but powerful in both its depictions and themes. Set on the southern home front during the American Civil War, the novel digs into societal norms, expectations, race relations, crime, punishment, cultural destruction, love, loss, and survival. It’s an ambitious piece, tragic, but beautifully so.

    Fair warning to all, the mystery at the heart of the narrative isn’t pretty. There is nothing overtly graphic in The Second Mrs. Hockaday, but there are a handful of relatively dark scenes and lots of period appropriate language. I personally adored Rivers’ dedication to authenticity, but I know a lot of readers feel differently and caution that demographic to look elsewhere. Rivers writes with intensity and grit. She embraces the good, the bad, and the ugly within these pages and prospective readers should anticipate the sort of challenges that style and tone produces.

    Looking back, I’d have liked more closure regarding certain characters. Sukie, Agnes, Nerissa, Abner, and Roberta fade like ghosts into the backdrop of the narrative and I wish there’d been more definitive resolution to their roles. I also struggled with the format Rivers chose. The letters and diary entries are written by multiple characters and I constantly tripped over the transitions between each voice. Achilles Fincher Hockaday’s first letter, at the beginning of Part 2, is especially noteworthy in that it is nine pages told by a character that up until that point didn’t exist. I ultimately understood his role and importance, but in the moment I lost track of the story trying to sort out who I was following.

    Structural issues aside, I have to say that I greatly enjoyed the time I spent on this piece and would definitely recommend it to fans of Civil War fiction.

  • Judy Collins
    Dec 13, 2016
  • Erin
    Jun 10, 2016

    The real tragedy in my review is that no one is going to be able to read this book for months. I have hope though that people will take note and place it on their TBR( if it appeals to your literary tastebuds). An epistolary novel( in a series of letters, diary entries, and court records) set during the time of the American Civil War,

    took me by surprise. I had no expectations going into the story, but I truly became invested in this heart wrenching tale. However, that

    The real tragedy in my review is that no one is going to be able to read this book for months. I have hope though that people will take note and place it on their TBR( if it appeals to your literary tastebuds). An epistolary novel( in a series of letters, diary entries, and court records) set during the time of the American Civil War,

    took me by surprise. I had no expectations going into the story, but I truly became invested in this heart wrenching tale. However, that wasn't my initial impression when I began to read it. It had a very

    beginning. which in retrospect, is a bit misleading for me to say because the story doesn't ultimately go in that direction. Chalk it up to my bizarre way of thinking!

    The limitations in the story are that the type of literary format didn't really give me insight into the minds or motivations of the minor characters. If you didn't like books like

    ,

    , or

    than this book could be an uphill type of battle. I was especially interested in the enigma of Major Hockaday. I felt that he was very "Bronte-esque", a Mr. Rochester type, that demands explanation, but the letters themselves only scratch the surface of this FICTIONAL character.

    Why do I scream fictional from the rooftops? Due to the tremendous in-depth research that is woven into the writing, I was absolutely take aback that while based on similar circumstances, Lily and Major Hockaday were figments of the author's imagination. That to me is a great writer- someone that can seduce the reader into falling into the tale.

    Thanks to Netgalley and Algonquin Books for an advanced egalley of this book. Check it out in January 2017

  • Diane S ☔
    Jul 09, 2016

    Placidia is only seventeen when she agrees to marry Major Hockaday, a man much older than herself, a recent widower with a small child. After spending only two days together, he is recalled to service in our Civil War. Now she is expected to manage his large farm, take care of his little boy and all with little help. When he finally returns it is to find that she has given birth, and said to have murdered the child. What really happened in the two years he was away.

    Told almost entirely in journa

    Placidia is only seventeen when she agrees to marry Major Hockaday, a man much older than herself, a recent widower with a small child. After spending only two days together, he is recalled to service in our Civil War. Now she is expected to manage his large farm, take care of his little boy and all with little help. When he finally returns it is to find that she has given birth, and said to have murdered the child. What really happened in the two years he was away.

    Told almost entirely in journal entries, letters and court documents we follow Placidia, learning about her life and the answers to this puzzling and horrifically charged event. One of my favorite ways to tell a story, seems more personal and realistic. This is in fact based on a true event. A dark book, but a book that highlights not only the difficulties the women faced, left alone, the men fighting and dying in large numbers, but also the amazing strength so many of these women had to develop. I liked, admired this young woman, she had to do so much with so little, use skills she had to find that she had never needed before.

    A wonderfully written mix of genres, mystery and historical and I believe even a little Southern grit. The answer to the mystery and its aftermath would linger on, affecting the future generation. They would seek the answers to an event that they didn't know existed. I loved uncovering the story right along with them.

    ARC from publisher.

  • Catherine ♡
    Dec 23, 2016

    *I won a free copy of this through LibraryThing's Early Reviewer's Program*

    2.5

    follows a seventeen-year old Placidia as she is married to Major Gryffith Hockaday in the midst of the Civil War. When he returns, two years later, he finds that she seems to have given birth in his absence and murdered the child. But all is not what it seems - what really happened in his absence?

    This book was definitely really hard to review, because I, for one, have never been

    *I won a free copy of this through LibraryThing's Early Reviewer's Program*

    2.5

    follows a seventeen-year old Placidia as she is married to Major Gryffith Hockaday in the midst of the Civil War. When he returns, two years later, he finds that she seems to have given birth in his absence and murdered the child. But all is not what it seems - what really happened in his absence?

    This book was definitely really hard to review, because I, for one, have never been a fan of books composed out of just letters/diary entries. This plot of this book, however, did not bore me like those typically do, and I found that I was quickly drawn into the story. However, the reveal of the story did not happen until the very end, and I found that I was kind of bored throughout a large part of the middle of the story.

    Because of the style, I found that it was a little hard to connect the characters, and I would get a little lost in who was speaking to who until I got to the end of the letters. At the end of the book, I definitely felt the emotional weight of the main character, but I wish I had felt this earlier on.

    The writing style definitely seemed to fit the time period, and it really added a tone of realism to the story, so I commend the author for that.

    All in all, I do think that I kind of predicted the ending, but that is the one scene throughout the book that I really liked. I'm not sure if I would very strongly recommend this to anybody, but the writing at the end was very touching and powerful, so if anything I would go back and reread that part.

  • Linda O'Donnell
    Dec 28, 2016

    I received a copy of The Second Mrs. Hockaday through NetGalley for an honest review. My thanks to Algonquin Books and to Susan Rivers for the opportunity.

    Some stories are told straightforward with details sunnyside up. The Second Mrs. Hockaday weaves itself into quite a Joseph's Coat of Many Colors. The threads stitch in line and then fall back onto itself through loops of personal letters, inquest notices, and documentations. A here, a now, and a long reaching into the past.

    Placidia Fincher li

    I received a copy of The Second Mrs. Hockaday through NetGalley for an honest review. My thanks to Algonquin Books and to Susan Rivers for the opportunity.

    Some stories are told straightforward with details sunnyside up. The Second Mrs. Hockaday weaves itself into quite a Joseph's Coat of Many Colors. The threads stitch in line and then fall back onto itself through loops of personal letters, inquest notices, and documentations. A here, a now, and a long reaching into the past.

    Placidia Fincher lives quite the life in Holland Creek, South Carolina. She's doted upon constantly by her father. It's 1865 and the fringes of the Civil War are drawing in. A mere seventeen years old, Placidia is ill-prepared for the demands that will soon be placed upon her. Major Gryffth Hockaday, at 32 years of age, asks her father for her hand in marriage. Within days, a wedding takes place and Placidia leaves all that she has ever known to become a wife and a mother to Hockaday's baby boy.

    Upon arriving at Hockaday's 300 acre farm, Placidia has set the tone by grabbing the reins of her horse and correcting Hockaday's manner of placing the horse in the stall. He's not to let this go lightly and their first night together demonstrates that he is in charge of all and everything.

    The major returns to his troops and does not arrive back at the farm for years thereafter. He has been imprisoned until after the war. Placidia spends those years surrounded in complete disaster with dead and starving animals on the farm and crops destroyed ill-tended in the fields. It is a hell that holds her in its clutches until she can barely breathe.

    Placidia gives birth during the long absence of her soldier husband. The child expires and is buried on the land. But the tragedy can no longer be buried as Hockaday returns as a physically and mentally broken man. He leaves Placidia and brings up charges against her.

    Susan Rivers implements those personal letters and inquest documentations to cast a dark shadow upon whose child laid in that shallow grave. Placidia guards her secret with pressed fingers to lips. And the telling can somewhat frustrate through the back and forth. One can almost grow weary through it all. The dialogue also has the authenticity of the time period. It is in the telling that weighs heavy and not the storyline itself.

    This is my first book by Susan Rivers. To be sure, I will look forward to her next.

  • Marjorie
    Oct 23, 2016

    This haunting novel takes place during the Civil War. Placidia is only 17 years old when the older Major Gryffith Hockaday speaks to her father about the possibility of marrying her. Major Hockaday’s wife has died and left him with a young son. He and Placidia are married within days of meeting and are only married two days when Major Hockaday has to return to the war. He leaves young Placidia to run their farm and to care for his young son. When he returns from the war two years later, Placidia

    This haunting novel takes place during the Civil War. Placidia is only 17 years old when the older Major Gryffith Hockaday speaks to her father about the possibility of marrying her. Major Hockaday’s wife has died and left him with a young son. He and Placidia are married within days of meeting and are only married two days when Major Hockaday has to return to the war. He leaves young Placidia to run their farm and to care for his young son. When he returns from the war two years later, Placidia is accused of murdering the baby she bore out of wedlock.

    This is a beautifully written book, told through letters and diary entries. The chapters are short and Ms. Rivers is quite good at giving just enough information in each chapter to keep you turning the pages. It’s a compulsive read and a very intriguing one. The love story is very touching. This is a debut novel for Susan Rivers and I think she’s a talent to be reckoned with. Recommended.

    This book was won by me in a contest given by the publisher through LibraryThing with the implied understanding that I would give an honest review.

  • Michelle
    Jan 18, 2017

    My first reaction upon finishing The Second Mrs Hockaday was stunned silence immediately followed by a powerful sense of loss. Placidia’s story so entranced me that it took me several hours to mourn the fact that I had finished it. The silence came about because her story was so powerful it swept me into her world and made me forget my own. It has been a long time since any novel has made me feel this way.

    Susan Rivers’ second novel is the epitome of exemplary use of the epistolary literary forma

    My first reaction upon finishing The Second Mrs Hockaday was stunned silence immediately followed by a powerful sense of loss. Placidia’s story so entranced me that it took me several hours to mourn the fact that I had finished it. The silence came about because her story was so powerful it swept me into her world and made me forget my own. It has been a long time since any novel has made me feel this way.

    Susan Rivers’ second novel is the epitome of exemplary use of the epistolary literary format and stellar writing. Through the use of personal correspondence, diary entries, and legal documents, Ms. Rivers not only tells Placidia’s tragic story but recreates the South at the end of the Civil War with vivid clarity. Each document has a distinct voice that adds to the story as much as their words do. Other than the inquest documents, the letters are so natural and honest that it is all too easy to get sucked into reading just one more letter, and one more, and yet one more. The Second Mrs Hockaday is the perfect example of an unputdownable novel.

  • Nicole
    Jan 21, 2017

    Wow! This was a very compelling debut novel that takes place (primarily) in the south during the Civil War, and is told through correspondence. While it is considered historical fiction, several of the events are based on true events and give the story a very authentic feel. It was easy to get caught up in the narrative of the letters and, like the characters, anxiously await the news that each one brought. Parts of the story are told around 30 years after the war by the descendants of the main

    Wow! This was a very compelling debut novel that takes place (primarily) in the south during the Civil War, and is told through correspondence. While it is considered historical fiction, several of the events are based on true events and give the story a very authentic feel. It was easy to get caught up in the narrative of the letters and, like the characters, anxiously await the news that each one brought. Parts of the story are told around 30 years after the war by the descendants of the main characters, as they investigate their past. This could very well open the door for a second novel as we see the impact their discoveries have on their present and future lives. Highly recommend this novel and I hope we will hear more from this author in the future.