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The Captive Wife

3.77  ·  Rating Details ·  149 Ratings  ·  21 Reviews
When Betty Guard steps ashore in Sydney, in 1834, she meets with a heroine's welcome. Her survival during a four-month kidnapping ordeal amongst Taranaki Maori is hailed as nothing short of a miracle. But questions about what really happened slowly surface within the elite governing circles of the raw new town of Sydney. Jacky Guard, ex-convict turned whaler, had taken ...more
Paperback, 368 pages
Published August 27th 2013 by Vintage Books (first published January 2005)
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Sep 25, 2013 jeniwren rated it really liked it
When Betty Guard steps ashore in Sydney, in 1834, she meets with a heroine's welcome. Her survival during a four-month kidnapping ordeal amongst Taranaki Maori is hailed as nothing short of a miracle. But questions about what really happened surface within the elite governing circles of the raw new town of Sydney.
Jacky Guard, ex-convict turned whaler, had taken Betty as his wife to his New Zealand whaling station when she was fourteen. After several years and two children, the family is returnin
May 25, 2011 Kate rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-clubs
I made comment to a fellow book club member that this really was "not my cup of tea" but I started it thinking at that at least was something.....I was quickly captivated (pun intended)and unable to put it down.

Set during the 1820/30's between Sydney Australia and various settlements along the West coast of New Zealand. It depicts the conflict between indigenous New Zealand Maori, the Kings representatives from England, whalers, sailors, convicts and women. All are trying to make something out
Jul 16, 2012 Rebecca rated it liked it
Hmmmmm....this book didn't make an impression on me ....yet i tried soo hard to finish it....i don't regret reding it! For the ones that like family books...i recommand this one!

P.S I loved the savages(mauri):):):)
Jan 14, 2015 Jennifer rated it really liked it
When I picked this book up at the library, I didn't know it was based on a true story. I am glad I realized it before I started reading, as it put an entirely different perspective on what I was reading. The story begins in Australia. John Guard is a former convict who has served his time and is busy establishing himself as a whaler and trader. He contracts to marry Betty, a 14 year old girl who is the niece of his housekeeper and cook. He takes her off to New Zealand with him, where he has ...more
Feb 13, 2015 Jessica rated it really liked it
This was an interesting novel. It is based on real events and the story is told through multiple characters perspectives using journal entries/ letters and various recounts and conversations. I didn't love this book, but the story carried me along quickly and I have to admit it was a fascinating voyage. It felt like and important story- one that needed to be told. I started the book feeling a great deal of mistrust towards one particular character who was clearly concealing the truth. This ...more
May 31, 2011 Gary rated it it was amazing
"I’m not going to tell you the story the way it happened. I’m going to tell it the way I remember it." That's how the protagonist in Charles Dickens book Great Expectations explains how he's going to tell the story. And this is the method Ms. Kidman uses to tell this remarkable story. Although a work of fiction, the basic story is factual. What really sets this book apart is the way the story is revealed through the musings, letters, etc. of the main characters. It's not a clear case of good ...more
Sep 11, 2011 Stephen rated it really liked it
Funny thing; a couple of days after I started reading this I began wondering if this was fiction or historical fiction. Then that very day I walked into Te Papa where there was a display on John and Betty Guard and their family, including the comb and the green meat dish which both figure prominently in the book. That answers that question. This book felt like a really honest account of what life was like in New Zealand in the 1830s. I found the jumping between narrators detracted from the story ...more
Jun 27, 2008 Kristine rated it it was ok
Fictional novel told through various characters' points of view in letters, journals, and dialogue which is based on a real event of the 19th century involving the kidnapping of a young Australian wife and her children by New Zealand Maori. Nearly all of the novel follows the life of the young woman and her ex-convict whaler husband before and after (but little during) the kidnapping. I didn't find most of the characters to be very well-developed and thought the main device of revealing the ...more
Atl Goddess
Mar 28, 2014 Atl Goddess rated it really liked it
I didn't realize that this was based on a real story. I knew the author was noted for meticulous research. I wish there was a note by the author at the end citing some of her sources. I guess she did this somewhat in her thanks at the end. This makes me appreciate this story more and revise my rating up a star. I have taken care of girls her age pregnant. While I don't recommend this lifestyle for any girl, some of them have this strong character that Bety exhibited. Heartbreaking story of a ...more
May 11, 2011 Bachyboy rated it really liked it
Really enjoyable! Betty Guard, the heroine based on real life, is kidnapped by Taranaki Maori for four months. She is a true battler and the book gives a wonderful insight into 1830's New Zealand. Jacky Guard, ex-convict turned whaler is a strong, awkward character who evokes some pity in spite of his stance at times.
Feb 14, 2014 Marzia rated it really liked it
Great book! Didn't think I'd enjoy it as much as I did. Based on a true story, this was an interesting, well-written book with a good mixture of history, and a tad of romance. It certainly added to me knowledge of the social mores of 19th century Australia and in particular, New Zealand. I recommend it.
Sep 06, 2007 melissa rated it it was amazing
Quite simply the best book I've read in the last year. Based on a real Sydney whaler who married his 14-year old maid and took her to New Zealand - where she was kidnapped by a Maori tribe - this story is utterly gripping. Fiona Kidman is one of NZ's grande dames of letters. It's a real shame you cannot find this book in a single Australian bookstore.
Apr 06, 2014 Ali rated it liked it
An interesting read about a specific time in New Zealand history. I was fascinated to read that it was based on a true story of the kidnapping by a Maori chief and the subsequent rescue of Betty Guard and her two children in 1834.
Mar 19, 2013 Gia rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this story but also felt a bit sensitive towards it, being a Maori myself. When I felt the carnage was coming, I was hesitant to read on and finish it. Even though the details were not graphic as I've read in other books, it still pierces the heart a bit.
Hennie B
Nov 07, 2012 Hennie B rated it really liked it
Great read, Betty was so young when she married John Guard. Imagine being married at 14. Gruesome descriptions .. made me cringe. But well written.
Taihape Library
I really liked this one, and when I saw Betty Guard's family memorabilia in Te papa it made the story really -real!
Dec 07, 2013 Jan rated it really liked it
Betty Guard'story was fascinating (and based on a real story). Fiona Kidman is meticulous with her research - I really enjoy her writing....
Sarah rated it really liked it
Jan 13, 2013
Teresa rated it really liked it
May 11, 2012
Jane rated it really liked it
Jul 15, 2013
Dianne Wetherell
Dianne Wetherell rated it liked it
Apr 12, 2012
Tanjeela rated it it was amazing
Jan 23, 2011
Jennifer Anastasi
Jennifer Anastasi rated it liked it
Jan 14, 2014
Oana rated it it was amazing
Mar 21, 2016
Gillian Torckler
Gillian Torckler rated it liked it
Jan 14, 2012
Jeanne Pearce
Jeanne Pearce rated it liked it
Sep 05, 2015
Lizzy rated it liked it
Oct 31, 2016
katrina hamill
katrina hamill rated it really liked it
May 27, 2014
Jess Maynard
Jess Maynard rated it really liked it
Feb 28, 2015
Stephanie Heyward
Stephanie Heyward rated it really liked it
Jul 09, 2015
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Fiona Kidman is a leading contemporary novelist, short story writer and poet. Much of her fiction is focused on how outsiders navigate their way in narrowly conformist society. She has published a large and exciting range of fiction and poetry, and has worked as a librarian, producer and critic. Kidman has won numerous awards, and she has been the recipient of fellowships, grants and other ...more
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