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The Second Mrs. Hockaday

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  7,894 ratings  ·  1,216 reviews

“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 absen
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published January 10th 2017 by Algonquin Books
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Average rating 3.80  · 
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 ·  7,894 ratings  ·  1,216 reviews

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Diane S ☔
Jul 09, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: xx2017-completed
“Our enemy is [. . .] and all people like him, who never question their motives or doubt their desires. They are put on this earth to cause misery, because what they take so freely for themselves comes always at great cost to others.”

This novel is constructed in epistolary form; there are also diary entries and the records of interviews from an inquest. In a very short period of time, I felt like I was the intended recipient of those letters, regardless who was being addressed. This story is
Dec 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
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
Jun 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-clubs

In 1863, 17 year old Dia marries a man double her age, a major in the Confederate army. After two days, he returns to the front leaving her with a 300 acre farm, a baby stepson, an aging female slave and a few field hands to manage. When he returns at the end of the war, she has given birth to a baby who had quickly died. Given that he hasn’t been home at all in the intervening years, there’s already a mystery at hand. When he brings up charges against her and she refuses to give the paternity o
Melissa Crytzer Fry
May 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
4.5 rounded up to 5

As a fan of Civil War-era historical fiction, I thoroughly enjoyed this slim debut. An epistolary novel told in its entirety through letters, legal court inquests and journal entries, it mirrors the real-life story of a husband and wife in 1864-66 (with flashbacks and flash forwards).

While the narrative weaves back and forth in time between the 1860s and 1890s – and includes letters from at least a half-dozen characters in the telling of the story – I found it easy to follow.
Mar 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
Find this and other reviews at: http://flashlightcommentary.blogspot....

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
Decently researched as far as battles, clothes, foods, chores and interesting if unnecessarily complicated.
The main character is an extremely romanticized view of a southern white woman who participated in the chattel slave trade. In fact was born and raised and married in it but seems to hold no prejudiced views towards her 'servants'.
When a white author is too fragile to accurately label chattel slaves they should take that as a clue and choose a new subject.
Benevolent chattel slave owners onl
Jun 10, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
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, The Second Mrs. Hockaday took me by surprise. I had no expectations going into the story, but I truly became invested in this heart wrenching tale. However, that ...more
Oct 23, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: librarything
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 ...more
”I will tell you the story of a fool- that she could not know how disastrously she had been prepared for life until she stepped into the world just as it was breaking into pieces.”

Synopsis: Just when one man thought his life couldn’t get any worse, it does when he comes home from war to find out his wife may (or may not) have committed multiple crimes.

I Find Your Lack of Punctuation Disturbing: The novel is written in the form of letters and diary entries, so the narrati
Connie G
Inspired by true events, "The Second Mrs Hockaday" tells the story of a new wife who was left behind to manage a South Carolina farm while her husband fought in the American Civil War. Placidia was only 17 years old when she met Confederate Major Gryffth Hockaday. She married him after only knowing him for one day. Two days later, Gryffth had to leave with his troops. He eventually was captured by the Union soldiers so was unable to return home for two years. Shortly before his return, Placidia ...more
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 ...more
Jan 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Oct 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was a charming little story. It is historical fiction and it is also an epistolary novel, set mostly in the Civil War days. (I love anything 1800's. ) It's the story of a teenage girl, who meets the love of her life and is married within days. Placidia is soon left alone to manage her husband's estate as he goes off to war. I'm not a fan of romance, but this was about so much more than just that. I liked the letters and the different POVs this offered. I was always gleaning something new fr ...more
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
Jun 08, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good historical fiction with an underlying mystery. The author did a marvelous job of making it feel like it was written in that time period. This story is told through letters and diary entries that tell of Placidia Hockaday’s hardships and endurance with her new husband away at war. It jumps around in time which was a bit confusing for me and for that reason I rate it three stars.
Feb 02, 2017 rated it liked it
Interesting style of storytelling through letters, diaries, and other documents of a young lady during civil war!
Sep 05, 2018 rated it liked it
I listened to the audio, read by Julie McKay & James Patrick Cronin, and really enjoyed it.

This is a Civil War story about a young wife left to fend for herself when her husband is called to war. It tells of the hardships and trials this young woman had to attend to in order to keep her homestead together.
When her husband comes back after 2 years, he hears rumors that she's had a child and killed it.
This is an epistolary story, which is a good format for it. The letters, diaries and court doc
Imagine being seventeen, married to a man you barely know, left on a farm you know nothing about managing, with a few slaves and servants, very little money, and another woman’s child to raise while your husband goes off to fight in the Civil War. How alone would you feel? What would you do?

Placidia Hockaday’s story is told through a series of letters and diaries spanning her life during the Civil War until after her death. Written based on a true incident that occurred, the Second Mrs. Hockaday
Oct 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fans of civil war fiction, mystery revealed thru letters/journal entries
Rated 4.5 - THE SECOND MRS. HOCKADAY by Susan Rivers is an excellent historical mystery portrayed through letters and journal entries, unraveling an engrossing tale. For those who love the Civil War era, this novel will surely suck you right in.

More historical book reviews featuring letters located at The Zest Quest.

The book starts out with a letter from Placidia to her cousin Millie where she describes the day she met her future husband. It then bounces to Placidia describing how she will be re
Jul 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book causes turmoil within the reader, but in a good way. It is the kind of confusion over why someone would do what they did, which you don't really understand until later in the book and then suddenly you do, and it is heart-wrenching.

The story is told through letters exchanged back and forth during and after the Civil War, through various family members. I found myself enthralled with this book within the first few chapters, and read it in one sitting until I was finished. The character
I struggled with this book because of the writing style. The dialogue of this book is mostly through letters, journals and court documents which are completely unquoted. I really hated that. Its set during the Civil War and it’s about Placidia, a teenager (17), left to fend for herself after two days of marriage to Major Hockaday, who is on the from lines of the war. The Major leaves for the army and this new wife is expected to run his farm and raise his young child from his first marriage.

Dec 11, 2016 rated it it was ok
This should have been a me book: it's set during the Civil War, it's an epistolary novel, and it deals with a woman sent to prison after she mysteriously had a child (while her husband, a Major, was off fighting), supposedly killed the baby, and refuses to say who had fathered it.

Sadly, it took me nearly a week to get through this 250-page book. My mind kept wandering and it was just so easy to set the book down and not pick it up again for a few hours. The reason I kept reading until the end wa
Jun 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
This could be a 4.5 read, but the end fell a little short for me. The first half of this book was amazing! Told through letters and journal entries, Placadia Hockady (formerly Fincher) reveals the events that took place in the two years that her new husband is quickly called back to the Civil War. When Major Hockaday returns to his young wife two years later, he finds she is in the middle of a scandal involving the death of her newborn child. What follows is her account of events leading up to t ...more
Aug 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Thanks to Netgalley for giving me a free digital copy in exchange for a honest review.

Wow, I loved this book! It had everything, historical fiction about a young wife left to manage a farm during the Civil War, a mystery concerning a dead baby, the story slowly unfolding in pieces through diary entries, letters, and court records .... I couldn't put it down and keep thinking about it after I'm done. I highly recommend this book!
Kelli Robinson
Jun 14, 2017 rated it liked it
This is an epistolary novel and I loved the challenge of piecing the story together through letters, diary entries, and legal documents. I also appreciated the immense research and historical setting. But overall, the story and characters fell flat for me and I found that I just "liked" this novel, but did not "really like" it. Still - I would recommend this story for those interested in the Civil War and southern historical fiction. ...more
Jan 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book so much I whipped through it in a day. Written in diary and letter format, the author had me guessing from beginning to end. It combines two of my favorite genres: mystery and historical fiction.
Judy D Collins
A special thank you to Algonquin Books and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Review to follow.
Feb 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book but it was hard to keep all the characters straight!
May 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Unlike anything I've read. Loved it (especially the 1860s chapters...the 1890s less so though they were necessary to reveal the full story). ...more
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Susan Rivers began her writing career as a playwright, receiving the Julie Harris Playwriting Award and the New York Drama League Award, and working as an NEA Writer-in-Residence in San Francisco.

Her focus shifted to fiction with a move to the Carolinas in 1995. Rivers' debut novel, The Second Mrs. Hockaday, was published by Algonquin Books in 2017. It was a People Magazine "Best New Books Pick"

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Juneteenth, observed on June 19th each year, is an American holiday commemorating the day in 1865 when the last enslaved people in Galveston,...
72 likes · 12 comments
“Our enemy is [. . .] and all people like him, who never question their motives or doubt their desires. They are put on this earth to cause misery, because what they take so freely for themselves comes always at great cost to others.” 3 likes
“(How Southern I am, in that respect: still fighting my war when the battles have been lost.)” 2 likes
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