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If the Devil Had a Wife: A True Texas Tale
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If the Devil Had a Wife: A True Texas Tale

3.6  ·  Rating Details ·  197 Ratings  ·  43 Reviews
Once upon a time. Happily ever after. Such are the classic promises of fairy tales. Yet in Texas we find a twist to the familiar storyline. In If the Devil Had a Wife, there is still the battle of Good vs. Evil, a beautiful maiden, a wealthy suitor, a kingdom of riches and the wicked witch, but any similarity with Cinderella and Snow White ends there. With the help of her ...more
Paperback, 364 pages
Published February 2nd 2010 by Booksurge Publishing
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Mar 07, 2011 Bea rated it it was amazing
A MUST READ! One of the best books I ever read and re-read! It should be listed as non-fiction. This book is well researched and would make a great movie! Written by the granddaughter of an Orange, Texas millionaire, it's the sad story of a wonderful family that was destroyed by a greedy lesbian. W H Stark married the love of his life, Nita Hill, after meeting her at The University of Texas. Adultery, lies, and obvious illegal activity paved the way for wife #3 to kill wives #1 and #2-- and #2 w ...more
Aug 12, 2010 Ashley rated it it was ok
This story is absolutely fascinating, and in the hands of a more gifted writer, it could have been a fantastic book. However, the author is not a gifted writer - she's not a very good one, actually.
Jun 09, 2010 Kevin rated it it was ok
Shelves: history
Not a bad "Tale" though the writing is average at best. It does provide some interesting, though somewhat questionable, "facts". The truth of the whole matter most likely lies between what the author has to say and the rebuttal the Stark Foundation provides on their website (
Laura Cowan
Apr 12, 2013 Laura Cowan rated it did not like it
This book is total and complete garbage. I was fortunate enough to know both Nelda Stark and Eunice Benkenstein and they were nothing like what this book of lies would have readers believe. Nelda was a very stern and serious woman but her generosity to her friends, social causes, the arts and her alma mater were of epic scale. She showed great kindness to those who were kind to her and not just after her money. She loved the arts, traveling, spending time with her friends and their families and ...more
May 13, 2010 Kelly rated it liked it
I read nearly all of this book. I never would have picked it up except that it's about the Stark family, timber barons who shaped the town of Orange, Texas, where my mother's family is from. If the authors are to be believed, one Nelda Stark, a third wife, killed four people, including her husband, by poisoning them. The authors suggest that vast amounts of money make it easy to get away with murder -- not exactly an earth-shaking contention, but always embarrassing for the officials who looked ...more
Mar 25, 2010 Anne rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Texans, attorneys
Recommended to Anne by: The author, Frank Mills AKA Rebecca Stark Nugent
If the Devil Had a Wife is a book that has all the classic ingredients of a blockbuster mini-series, a Texas Monthly expose, a Quentin Tarrantino movie, and a soap opera all rolled into a very controversial book. The major difference is that this story is true; backed up by 140,000 pages of legal documents generated by a court case ten or so years ago. The subject is the H.J. Lutcher Stark family of Orange, Texas, and the Stark Foundation. From the Stark family wealth that was amassed over 80 ...more
Dec 27, 2010 Owenbatt rated it really liked it
Great local SE Texas story, clearly anchored to a very large extent on true events and real people; the power of an influential family in earlier days of
Orange, Texas!
All about $$$$$ and power, grabbing of assets and personalities involved in and/affected by that pursuit in various roles.
An enjoyable and worthy read - and it is based on Truth !
Ruby Richard
Oct 09, 2010 Ruby Richard rated it it was amazing
Finally someone has told the truth about the trickery that goes on in Orange Tx. Like it was said in the book how can this town grown when it has a funeral director for a Mayor. The "good ole boy" politics still exsist here.
Velda Crotty
Mar 28, 2010 Velda Crotty rated it it was amazing
This book is fabulous. All documented information as to the H.J. Lutcher Stark history. The untimely deaths of women whose last visitor was Nelda. This will make a fantastic block buster movie.
Dec 15, 2010 Debby rated it really liked it
The flow was somewhat choppy, but the story is remarkable. I don't know that the devil was married to the wife. I'm thinking the devil took a husband...
Oct 12, 2016 Linda rated it did not like it
Very poorly written. Boring. I did not finish.
Jul 14, 2011 Katherine rated it it was amazing
When I picked up If the Devil Had a Wife, I thought, “Oh no, another book about how bad Texas people can be.” As I began reading, I soon found that I was right, but not in a negative way. The book is one of those real life, tell all books that will hold your interest from beginning to end.
The author, a descendant of H. J. Lutcher Stark, knows the subject through extensive research and interviews with family and friends. The chronology of the family events is persuasive and well presented.
Heather Bryant
Jan 03, 2014 Heather Bryant rated it did not like it
Clearly the only people who enjoyed this rather poorly written book had ties to the small town when the family lived. It was highly repetitive and was like reading court documents.

There were actually interesting elements of the story but the book was authored by someone far too close to the situation & who's true calling was never to be a writer (anyone can recount a story but writers make you feel he story). The wanted to get the facts out (in other words prove they were in the right) but,
Oct 31, 2014 Conrad rated it did not like it
As other reviewers have said, it had the makings of an interesting story and in the hands of a competent writer it could have been a pretty good book. However that didn't happen. Apparently it was written by a family member (using a pen name) not a professional writer - and it shows. The first three quarters of the book are filled with so much extraneous "fluff" - filler information that has nothing to do with the story that the important facts tend to get lost in the midst of it all. It seems l ...more
May 05, 2011 Anne rated it it was amazing

A friend lent me this book, just telling me it was really sad. Because I had lived in Southwest Louisiana, 30 miles from Orange TX, for over 30 years, I thought I'd give it a read. WOW!

After reading this book, I believe that Frank Mills is a pen name for Rebecca Stark Nugent, a member of the family this book is about. She autographed the copy I read, circling the name Frank Mills and drawing an arrow from her name to his. Actually, Frank Mills' name shows up in the book itself as one
Nov 13, 2011 Sbfrazier rated it really liked it
Fantastic. Tale of the family behind what is the largest charitable trust in Texas--and one of the largest in the U.S.--the Lutcher-Stark families in Orange, Texas. Estimated to be about a billion dollars. Loses a star because the narrative and writing are poor. However, the story is fascinating: a lesbian marries the richest guy in the state, uses barbiturates to control her husband and disinherit her step-children, and in the process poisons (allegedly) several people who stand in her way. The ...more
Oct 16, 2016 Roger rated it it was ok
A friend let me borrow this book which should have been a fascinating read, but I think my friend had the same problem with it that I did: If the Devil Had a Wife is poorly written, and this really serves to detract from any impact it might deliver. I grew up approximately thirty miles down the road from where the majority of the action takes place, which is Orange Texas. Even reading about people and events I have heard about all my life (or for that matter reading about places I have visited p ...more
Gayle Ormsby Hargis
Jun 27, 2014 Gayle Ormsby Hargis rated it did not like it
This is a rant, not a novel. After reading it, my interest in the true events which triggered this book's creation was piqued, but the story was delivered with such venom that I honestly couldn't even accept it as an accurate account. As literature, it didn't really tell a tale start-to-finish; the events were presented in a disjointed manner and in no discernible order. I was prepared to love this book based on the locale and on the description of its theme, but I loathed it. I finished it, hop ...more
Frances Collins
I thought the book was a great read full of history and facts. I am from Orange Texas where the story takes place. There's no doubt in my mind the children of the wealthiest couple in Orange, Texas inheritance was stolen from them by an extremely manipulative woman. Praying one day God releases this money back into the hands of the rightful heirs. The curse/ stronghold continues to be felt on Orange, Texas because of this malicious woman...the main topic of ....If The Evil Had A Wife!
Jun 01, 2012 Sara rated it liked it
Being from Orange, the town in question, I found this book really interesting. Knowing some of the people/places/events that were discussed added a certain level of intrigue. The writing was choppy and seemed lacking at times, but the information was there. I would recommend this to anyone interested in murder mystery. The crazy part is that this is not fiction.
May 16, 2010 erin rated it liked it
Shelves: borrowed
I liked this book and then I didn't like this book. It went on forever - and while I got that the corruption was that deep - I didn't need it about 100 more pages. I was disappointed in the ending because it does not work out. I am from Orange and certainly would have remembered if the IRS had shut everything down. It does ruin my memories of going to the Stark house as a kid.
Pamela Rochelle
Jan 29, 2014 Pamela Rochelle rated it it was amazing
The book is awesome my mother worked for all the Stark wives as a gardener. She would tell us stories about the 3 rd wife and how she would always keep Mr Starks medicated as she would take in female lovers. We would here these stories growing up as kids and finally the grandson writes a tell all book. I believe they need to make a movie as well.
Jan 25, 2011 Ana rated it it was ok
While I could appreciate the misfortune of the author's family, the writer emphasized pathos as a tool to persuade the reader at the expense of the the logos and ethos. It was hard to discern fact from fiction. The writing style could use some work. It was hard to follow the storyline - events seemed to jump from one thing to the next without any clear transition. Interesting read though.
Karen Chapman
Jul 17, 2016 Karen Chapman rated it did not like it
Add this to my "Life's Too Short to read Bad Books" list. Gawd! I put this one down because it was so poorly written and EDITING WAS NON EXISTENT! In addition, I live down the road from Orange and work in a museum with historians who say "Devil" was poison penned by a sour graped family.

Life's too short to read bad books written by angry people, do i deep sixed this puppy.
Jun 03, 2014 Carla rated it it was ok
Shelves: bbb
I wish that I could rate this book with more stars, but while the story was fascinating, the writing left much to be desired. The structure needed much work. It jumped around quite a bit, and often bogged down in unimportant details. I think in the attempt to get the story out there quickly, they settled on rough draft version of what could have been a wonderful book.
Kathleen Mccorquodale
May 20, 2010 Kathleen Mccorquodale rated it really liked it
This is a quick, easy read. I think much of it is fiction with a bit of reality mixed in. If you are familiar with Southeast Texas, it helps withthe context. There is a McCorquodale relative listed in the family tree but not mentioned in the book. Must mean that branch of the family just lead a plain old boring life like the rest of us - just with more money.
Frances Heneghan
Jan 01, 2014 Frances Heneghan rated it liked it
True story of wealth, greed and corruption within a Texas family, and the ultimate conclusion of justice after 6 decades.
Could have been a blockbuster if written by a professional author but perhaps more believable as it is documented by a family member.
Jul 12, 2011 Cindy rated it liked it
Very interesting, true story about how wealth, power, and greed can manipulate and destroy others. Unfortunately, I felt that the mediocre writing style detracted from the overall impact of the book.
Sep 01, 2011 Debbie rated it really liked it
Grew up in this little town and knew many of the people written about, The history behind these families and the times makes small town secerts very interesting. Would have helped to have had more details on the family's history into the making of the money.
Mary Honeycutt
Jun 17, 2014 Mary Honeycutt rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015, true-stories
The evilness and greed is just astounding. It amazes me that people get away with these things just because of their bank account balance. I'm ashamed of the amount of people that can be bought, as well. It's disgusting.
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