In Need of a Good Wife
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In Need of a Good Wife

3.59 of 5 stars 3.59  ·  rating details  ·  618 ratings  ·  142 reviews
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...more
Paperback, 387 pages
Published October 2nd 2012 by Berkley Trade
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I just won this book! Thank you Goodreads!

Clara Bixby is looking for a way out of post-civil war Manhattan City and comes up with a plan to broker mail-order brides to the men of Destination, Nebraska. Each woman (to-be bride) has her own reason for leaving New York. They each correspond with their soon-to-be husband and expectations are high as are the risks.

This was a fun book to adventure to the wild wild west. I thought the writing was very vivid, imaginative, and at times humorou...more
Rebecca Brothers
If you are looking for a completely compelling, lovely read, this book is it. The story follows several women on a particularly daring journey west. It is just after the Civil War and many women in Manhattan City are left widowed or at a serious loss for eligible men. One enterprising young woman has decided to take matters into her own hands by arranging long-distance courtships between these women and the eager men in the frontier town of Destination, Nebraska. What follows is a tale impossibl...more
I’d give this book 2 stars. If I could it would have been 2.5. One for a good storyline, one for being technically well-written.

Storyline: The setting and premise of the book is intriguing and unique. The author does an excellent job of describing the urban squalor of New York as well as the desolation of a frontier town in the Plains.

Characters: The characters are written with great detail, but I just could not connect with them.

The ‘good’ characters are archetypically good; the virtuous (an...more
Kelly Hager
Clara Bixby's life is getting worse by the minute. Her husband left her for another woman and she's just lost her job. Her prospects aren't looking very good. Then she reads an article about a small town comprised almost entirely of men in Nebraska and has the best idea ever: what if she were to become a matchmaker? That town needs women and surely she can manage to find wives for those that want them.

The story is told from the perspectives of Clara, Rowena (a young widow whose husband was kille...more
Kaira Rouda
In Need of a Good Wife is a wonderful re-entry into the world of the past wild, wild west. The three female characters are strong, the writing vibrant and the setting desperately beautiful. I really enjoyed this novel.
nomadreader (Carrie D-L)
Oct 02, 2012 nomadreader (Carrie D-L) rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to nomadreader (Carrie D-L) by: Publisher's Weekly
(originally published at

The basics: Shortly after the Civil War, Clara Bixby, whose husband ran off with another woman, reads about Destination, Nebraska in the newspaper, and she realizes it's the perfect business venture for her after she loses her job at a tavern in Manhattan City, New York. Clara writes to Destination's mayor and strikes a deal: she'll provide widows and single women willing to move to Destination to get married if the men will pay for their...more
Romancing the Book
Reviewed by: Angie
Book provided by: Publisher
Review originally posted at Romancing the Book

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 over...more
Erika Robuck
In post-Civil War New York, three women are imprisoned by their lives or pasts. From heartbreak and loss, to the alienation of being a poor immigrant, they find that they have nothing left to lose, so why not embark upon an adventure to the west?

The primary protagonist, Clara Bixby, works in the bar her father used to own, and is abandoned by her philandering husband. Elsa is a kind, lonely immigrant who is tired of working for the upper class, with no life or freedom of her own. Rowena is a fei...more
M.K. McClintock
A Reader's Opinion: The idea behind this book is the best part about it. I enjoyed the storyline and the concept. The characters were written in a way that I either liked them or hated them. This book took me a surprisingly long time to get through. It moved right along and didn't slow down, but it also didn't pull me. Though predictable at times, I still enjoyed the stories of the individual women. The town is depicted well and I even found myself cringing when I thought about these city women...more
I am ambivalent about this book. I liked the premise of it but the narrative was very fractured - I think the author tried to use way too many points of view; it would have been stronger if she had chosen one protaginist to focus on for the entirety of the story. The three main women McNees focuses on are approachable, representing various points on a morality scale and quite black and white which makes them interesting, but not intriguing. The religious undertones are clear but not overwhelming...more
Jane Donovan
I really enjoyed this book - nothing too exciting - but a good little story.
First sentence: "The oak planks in the floor of Rathbone's basement tavern, Clara knew, were lined with invisible cracks."

Clara Bixby is a Manhattan barmaid trying to maintain her independence and escape the ghosts of the past. Rowena Moore is a war widow (Civil War that is) struggling to make ends meet with an invalid father. Elsa Traugot is a Bavarian immigrant who has known nothing but servitude and hard work since coming to America as a child. These three women want desperately to begin aga...more
This story is told from the viewpoints of three very different women who are all heading out west after the Civil War. The three women are as different as night and day. One is a war widow that took me a little while to warm up to, the next is a truly humble housekeeper and immigrant, and then we have Clara who hopes to earn a living arranging marriages out west and is leaving the great state of New York behind in the process. It truly was remarkable to see and hear the Wild, Wild West from the...more
I'm not a huge fan of historical fiction--I think I overdosed on it in my tween and teen years. But there are a few writers working these days that I do pay attention to, and Kelly O'Connor McNees is one of them. I so loved her first book, The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott, I could hardly wait for this new one. It entails mail order brides coming from New York City to the nearly womanless town of Destination, Nebraska in 1866. Clara Bixby, heartbroken over her baby's death and her husband lea...more
Miriam Downey
You can find my full review here: http://mimi-cyberlibrarian.blogspot.c...

The years following the Civil War continue to provide fodder for books of every sort—from novels to histories—and about every conceivable type of situation. Among the most poignant are the stories of women left husbandless after the war, either because of the death of a husband or because of the dearth of men left in the community. Other stories tell of homesteaders and ranchers without wives in a “lawless” West. Historic...more
After the Civil War, thousands of unmarried women were left to fend for themselves, thanks to a dearth of eligible men, in a society that still did not foster that type of independence. Enter Clara, a woman reeling from her own loss, who hits upon a way to help out a small town in Nebraska and earn her the independence she so desperately craves. Against all odds, she creates her band of brides-to-be who all have their own reasons for seeking a new life. Beset by unfortunate and unforeseen circum...more
Clara Bixby wants out of New York City. Her baby has died in infancy and her no good cheating husband has abandoned her. To get the money to start over she hatches a crazy plan. She is going to shepherd other ladies looking for their own escape out of the city and on to new husbands in Destination, Nebraska. The mail order brides will find new lives in a prairie town lacking in women. Among the ladies looking to head out west is middle aged Elsa, an immigrant wanting to break free from the laund...more
Ashley Arthur
I won a copy of this book from a Goodreads giveaway listed by the author.

In the years following the Civil War, Clara Bixby hatches a plan for a new beginning – she organizes a matchmaking service to provide New York brides for men in the frontier town of Destination, Nebraska. Clara knows the process won’t be foolproof, and both the women and the men may have to adjust their expectations, but she is surprised by just how many snags she hits on the journey to get her group of ladies out West.

Renee Rosen
This wonderful second novel by author Kelley O'Connor McNees left me completely enamored! I can honestly say it was one of the best books I've read this year. McNees captures it all--great characters, engrossing story and beautiful writing. She weaves a mesmerizing tale of three very different women who leave New York City for American West.

Clara, a down-on-her-luck woman with hopes for a better future, embarks on a mail order bride business. When she and her young brides journey to Destination...more
It is so hard to find a GOOD book anymore. This is one. After six decades of voracious reading, I am a tough audience though I understand how hard it must be to come up with something new, fresh, different. However, I will say to writers, "Sorry, but that's your job!".

Though this is an old, old story written over and over, I have always loved the idea of 'order-up brides' and read them again and again. This writer really came up with something new, different and some dialogue that made me laugh...more
Clara Bixby's husband walked out on her after the death of their infant son. She is desperate to start over in life when she reads an article about a town in Nebraska. The town is made up of mostly men who are looking for good women to join them. Clara decides to try to fill this need with woman who are looking for a new life. The story focuses mostly on three women. There is Elsa, an older immigrant who has spent most of her life as a laundress, Rowena, a strong willed and spoiled (poor) heress...more
Lisa Bauer
In Need of a Good Wife is the story of three women that unfolds beautifully, smoothly and eloquently. The three women find themselves in circumstances they could never have imagined making decisions equally difficult to fathom. Set in the 1800s from New York City to Nebraska, McNess sets a sweeping backdrop of the culture, physical difficulties and grand beauty of the times. The story is told through the three main characters, which lends a richness and diverse viewpoint of life. It was a diffic...more
I’m not going to spend much time on my review of “In Need of a Good Wife” because it was just ok. The story idea of mail-order brides for the wilds of the “far west”, specifically Nebraska during the 1860’s seemed interesting – and it was for a while.

With a decent story build-up, the women finally headed west (from Manhattan Island) with clever entrepreneur Clara, to claim situations and husbands in the little town of Destination, Nebraska. But from their arrival the story just got ho-hum. I ke...more
Jessica Howard
This is a story of mail order brides in 1867 Nebraska. I didn't really like it. So I was going to give it 2 stars. And yet...I couldn't stop reading it. I just had to know what was going to happen to the characters. So I guess 2.5, or 3? I'm ambivalent.

The problem was that the story was told from the alternating viewpoints of 3 different characters, and I only liked 1 of them.
This book was pretty good. It follows three different post-Civil War women, who each has her own reason to leave New York - becoming or setting up mail-order brides - and settle in Destination, Nebraska. There is a Christian theme, but it fits and isn't overpowering at all. It's actually a soothing, well-paced read. I received my copy via the First Reads program.
Holly Weiss
An easy read about little unexamined practice of post-Civil War single women moving west to marry single men who are in need of a wife. The author focuses on three of the women and tells an interesting tale. The endurance of the women and the way the author portrayed the realities of soddy houses and a remote town in Nebraska is impressive.
Melissa Levine
LOVED THIS!!!! This was such a fast read for me because I didn't want to put it down. I like how the author switched between the 3 main ladies to tell the story. I really enjoy these types of stories involving guys wanting a bride, someone they've never met, very interesting. Will definitely be on the look out for more books by this author.
Kelly O'Connor McNees drew me in with her skillful storytelling and fully-fledged characters, plus, her descriptions of New York and the American West (post-Civil War) were excellent. Carla Bixby and all the women who (bravely and blindly) dared to embark on a life-altering journey kept me captivated from beginning to end.
Ilona Mustafin
In Need of a Good Wife has heartbreak, hope and ambition. The story focuses on three particular women with different upbringings and fates. I found the book was written flawlessly.
It was interesting and kept me reading but I was unsatisfied at the end. I guess I was hoping for more history. It was too "packaged" and predictable at the end.
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Beyond Mr. Darcy:...: March 2013 Group Read: In Need of a Good Wife 8 17 Mar 23, 2013 07:47PM  
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Kelly O’Connor McNees grew up in Lansing, Michigan, and holds a bachelor’s degree in English Literature from the University of Michigan and a master’s in English education from DePaul University. A former seventh-grade teacher and editorial assistant, Kelly runs a busy editorial business called Word Bird Editorial Services, through which she helps authors of all stripes improve their craft and pre...more
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