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Mrs. Kimble

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The award-winning debut novel from Jennifer Haigh, author of Baker Towers, The Condition, and Faith, tells the story of Birdie, Joan, and Dinah, three women who marry the same charismatic, predatory, and enigmatic opportunist: Ken Kimble. Resonating with emotional intensity and narrative innovation reminiscent of Ann Patchett’s Bel Canto, Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible, and Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, Haigh’s Mrs. Kimble is a timeless story of grief, passion, heartache, deception, and the complex riddle of love.

416 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 2003

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About the author

Jennifer Haigh

34 books930 followers
Jennifer Haigh is an American novelist and short story writer. Her new novel MERCY STREET takes on the contentious issue of abortion rights, following the daily life of Claudia Birch, a counselor at an embattled women's clinic in Boston.

Her last novel, HEAT AND LIGHT, looks at a Pennsylvania town divided by the controversy over fracking, and was named a Best Book of 2016 by The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and NPR. Earlier books include the novel FAITH, about a beloved Boston priest accused of a molesting a child in his parish, and THE CONDITION, the story of a woman diagnosed in childhood with Turner's Syndrome.

Haigh's critically acclaimed debut novel MRS. KIMBLE won the PEN/Hemingway Award for first fiction. Her second novel, the New York Times bestseller BAKER TOWERS, won the PEN/L. L. Winship Award for outstanding book by a New England author. Her short story collection NEWS FROM HEAVEN won of the Massachusetts Book Award and the PEN New England Award in Fiction. A Guggenheim Foundation Fellow and a graduate of the Iowa Writer's Workshop, she writes frequently for The New York Times Book Review. Her fiction has been published in eighteen languages.

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5 stars
1,635 (16%)
4 stars
4,262 (42%)
3 stars
3,257 (32%)
2 stars
679 (6%)
1 star
119 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,157 reviews
Profile Image for Connie G.
1,688 reviews451 followers
August 8, 2015
Ken Kimble is a chameleon who can change his colors to adapt to any situation. He has very good instincts about the needs of the three women that he will eventually marry. The three lonely women who will become Mrs Kimble each have a vulnerability: Birdie is emotionally fragile, Joan is fighting breast cancer, and Dinah has a large birthmark. They easily fall under his spell, and ignore the fact that he has no friends or family, and that they know nothing about his past. He's a smooth talking man which helps him close the deal in business, as well as win over these women.

The reader gets to know the secretive Ken Kimble only through the eyes of the other characters during the course of his life. But we don't know the motives for some of his actions. Once the ring is on their finger, the women find out that Mr Kimble is not capable of really loving someone, not even his wife or his children. On page one we find out that he died when "his heart seized". But it seemed like he lived his life with a heart that did not function emotionally.

While his children hunger for love, his two abandoned children from his first marriage also hunger for food. His third child overeats because he is unhappy. A food theme runs through the book, especially in the section about Dinah who is a chef.

This was an entertaining book with vivid characters. The story also showed changes in American marriages since Ken Kimble married in 1961, 1969, and 1979. Kimble was portrayed in different economic classes since he was a poor minister in the 1960s, and a wealthy businessman selling real estate in his later years. Mrs. Kimble had a fast moving plot that kept my interest. The book won the PEN/ Hemingway Award for Outstanding First Fiction.
Profile Image for Yvette.
111 reviews5 followers
September 20, 2007
Okay, this is a 3.50 stars. I couldn't commit to four. I have mixed feelings about this book. The author is very talented and does a wonderful job telling the story of this con man who takes advantage of his 3 wives in different stages of his life. However, I hated some of the characters and I felt so badly for his children, my heart would literally ache for them. I just wanted to scream "Wake up and smell the coffee, you idiots!" I guess Haigh does a wonderful job in making us detest some of the characters and feel sympathy and compassion for others. It was a good book, but angered me so many times!
Profile Image for Erin.
547 reviews33 followers
September 12, 2007
Hmmm. I have mixed feelings about this book. I couldn't put it down. And I liked the writing style a lot. I liked the ending. I guess I'm always looking for more philosophy or psychology behind things. That said, I think there was a lot of that here, just nothing that I could underline. It makes you think; about the relationships you are in, or who you are in relationships. I think she did an amazing job at portraying the characters too. Remarkable job. She's a very talented writer.
Profile Image for Amy Hatvany.
Author 12 books980 followers
October 26, 2009
For me, Mrs. Kimble is an example of excellent fiction, sketching out a map, but allowing you to find your own way to a destination.

I was captivated by the at first glance simple, but expertly-layered story of three women who all fall for and marry the same man. It seems that many readers were put off by Mr. Kimble himself, and yes, he was a despicable man who used the women in his life to further his own selfish pursuits.

However, at least for me, the focus of the story wasn't meant to rest on Mr. Kimble. Instead, it was set squarely on the female main characters and the idea that women who feel "less than" for one reason or the other (age, losing a breast to cancer, a disfiguring birthmark), will often settle for something they don't realize they are settling for. They will take what is offered them solely because it is offered and not question what they truly deserve because they are unaccustomed to being offered anything at all. Mr. Kimble had a talent for identifying and preying on the insecurities of the three women in the story.

The story offers the opportunity for women to examine their own lives, to look at where they might have sold themselves short for all the wrong reasons. Ms. Haigh does not set out easy answers or pat examinations for the reader - she leads them through differing perspectives and allows you to draw your own conclusions.

Profile Image for Martha☀.
685 reviews33 followers
April 5, 2018
4.5 stars
How is it that I have been unaware of Jennifer Haigh until now? I really enjoyed this novel and spent every spare minute reading it. Not usually interested in the laments of housewives, somehow I got caught up in the deception and mystery behind Ken Kimble and his three wives.
As a serial husband, Ken Kimble moves from wife to wife, always bettering his position and climbing some sort of social ladder. In his wake, we see the destruction of his families and the wives who have to deal with his abandonment and disappearances. Surprisingly, even when he is around, he is absent. He manages to woo each one with his honed salesman tactics but never reveals any truth about himself. What is the allure of such a man and why are women drawn to him?
Profile Image for Brittany.
74 reviews13 followers
January 10, 2019
Sometimes the people closest to us turn out to be the most unfamiliar of strangers. Jennifer Haigh's heartbreaking and revealing novel takes a bold stand on life and marriage and asks the question: do we really know our better half as well as we think we do? At first glance, Ken Kimble is in every way the epitome of a perfect husband both in looks and in a personality that cracks like a whip with all the women he encounters. He seems too good to be true and he is, revealing himself to be an expert manipulator who cruelly deceives three wives leaving them nothing but a broken heart.

Birdie is the first to be tricked into Kimble's empty promises and cold demeanor after he seduces her and puts on a flashy courtship. Marrying her when she is only 18 years-old and he a cool 32, their union produced two children he could care less about and a young wife who had no idea what she was getting herself into. The years fade on as he begins to spend more and more time working late nights "teaching" at his school while Birdie, naive and alone, finds a friendly companion in drinking. Everything collapses when Kimble abandons them all for one of his students. Eventually, however, he even breaks off that relationship for a more appealing one in Joan, a lonely heiress who is immediately captivated by Kimble's dangerous charm. This only lasts a few years due to Joan's second affliction of cancer and conveniently, all of her wealth is passed on to him. Later on, he meets and marries his final wife, Dinah, who had actually been his first two children's babysitter years ago. Being significantly older than her, this relationship takes its toll as well but it can be argued that age has nothing to do with Dinah and Kimble's problems. Kimble is simply far too selfish and cold a man to live with but because of his wealth and their son, Dinah is forced to stay with him and submit to a life of unhappiness.

They say what goes around comes around... the memorable climax of the story will leave the reader mesmerized and perhaps a bit relieved, although maybe not fully satisfied. While Kimble does indeed pay some kind of retribution for his cruel and wicked ways, the ugly imprint he has left on the lives of his wives and his children alike will never go away. What is, what could have been, and what should have been are the realities that Birdie, Joan, and Dinah battle with each day of their life because they were unlucky enough to have a man pull the rug right out from beneath their feet.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Lauren Hidden.
32 reviews6 followers
August 17, 2010
This book was given to me some time ago by a friend and has been sitting on my shelf for quite a while. I finally pulled it out and started reading it...I read the whole thing in about a 15-hour span (not including sleeping for the night!). This book totally engrossed me...the tale of 3 (sequential) wives of the same man...a man charming to all those he meets, yet a chameleon who seems utterly empty. Each woman he marries seems vulnerable for one reason or another (one is naive, one is recovering from a serious illness, another extremely self-conscious). Each woman struggles for explaining her husband's behavior, even making up excuses for his behavior to others. But Ken made no apologies for his actions.

This book was extremely well-written, and got even more engaging the longer I read it. Ken's character seems utterly believable--most women I know have run across someone like him. Why did he do what he did? Who knows. But the book is less about the consistent character--Ken--and more about how each of these women entered into a relationship with him, realized it wasn't as they anticipated, and resigned themself to that life anyway. I found myself wondering what I would have done if I was each Mrs. Kimble.

Highly recommended!
Profile Image for Angie.
89 reviews1 follower
July 29, 2011
I picked this up at a library sale for $0.25 based solely on the cover art and back cover blurb. I didn't have high expectations but I ended up devouring the book in about 2 days, and I would read more by this author.

Mrs. Kimble is a novel in 4 parts revolving around Ken Kimble, a lying, cheating minister-turned-real-estate-mogul and his 3 wives. Ken was born in 1929; the book begins and ends with his death in 1995.

Alcoholic Birdie (b. 1942, m. 1961, 2 children, divorced 1969) and Newsweek foreign correspondent Joan (b. 1930, m. 1969, no children, died 1975?) each have one section and chef Dinah (b. 1954, m. 1979, 1 child, widowed 1995) has two sections. Through their stories you can see the progression of not only Ken's selfish, greedy, a**holish personality, but also of American family values and race relations.

Haigh did a good job ending this book (high praise from me!) by giving Birdie and Dinah appropriate resolution to their conflicts, and by leaving Joan's death largely unmentioned, which given Ken's affinity for sneaking off in the night to start fresh in a new state, fits the book to a T. Dinah mentions once that in 15 years of marriage she never heard him laugh. The question Haigh wants the reader to contemplate, I'm sure, is why did each woman marry Ken, given his obvious faults? How did society/their background/ages impact their decisions and expectations of him? How did it impact the way they each responded when they discovered his lies?

Excellent writing, a good plot and difficult questions left to the reader give this book a solid "recommended" rating. Done right, it would make a great movie.
Profile Image for Suzanne.
584 reviews31 followers
May 21, 2008
The compelling story of three women who were manipulated by one man. A con artist and a chameleon, Ken Kimble is a despicable character. The women he preyed upon were all very different yet all fell under his spell. Spanning 25 years, Mrs. Kimble is an intriguing page-turner that satisfyingly comes full circle.
180 reviews23 followers
August 20, 2009
Very much enjoyed the book - the story, the writer and the clever writing. The narrative unfolds beautifully and we are treated to some exquisite, gently developed characterisation and a storyline that gradually builds and layers weaving between the past and present enigma that is Ken Kimble. Haigh works greatly in female characterisation and through her narrative of his three main 'love' affairs she explains the crumbling and disjointed world of a broken, selfish and quite mysterious man. Kimble will never be more than a whispering shadow in the story despite his 'role' being of fundamental importance to its development. We don't really hear his voice and we never explicitly learn of his hopes, fears and dreams yet we learn about psychological and social distruction caused by one man's indifference and ego. The book is secretly scathing about the very ideas of romance, marriage and ideals and of what society and individuals expect love and relationships to be and mean. After reading Haigh's first novel I am impressed at her fluidity and genius as a writer who is able to weave and knit ideas seemingly effortlessly. Brilliant book for appreciative readers of good writing linked to immaculate story development. Bravo!
Profile Image for Janet.
398 reviews29 followers
August 24, 2008
I had some trouble warming to this story - it was not until the second half, when Ken Kimble's third wife is introduced, that I really enjoyed reading & wanted to know what would happen to the characters. Ken is a user who appeals to flawed women ripe for being used. Wives 1 & 2 are sad, insecure women - it is not easy to like them but it is very easy to feel sorry for them. Were it not for Ken's son, Charlie, I'm not sure I would have kept reading - but Charlie is strong and acts more adult than any of the actual adults, until Dinah, wife number 3 enters the story. Dinah becomes the focal point that brings all of the characters, and all of the stories, together. Like all of the other women in the book, Dinah falls for Ken's false charm. Unlike the others tho, she comes to understand Ken - something Charlie understood even as a child. Dinah & Charlie are the survivors. The ending is quiet & simple with Ken getting the ending he deserved all along.
Profile Image for Lain.
Author 13 books120 followers
December 1, 2007
How much is a woman willing to give -- or give up -- for love? That is the question at the center of this book. The tale of the three wives of a handsome sociopath, Mrs. Kimble traces the wreckage Ken Kimble leaves in his wake. Each woman is distinctly different, yet each is willing to sacrifice everything for the man she loves. While it is at times unavoidably depressing -- like watching a train smash into a car stalled on the tracks -- the resolution is, indeed, a tale of just rewards and redemption.

The characters are finely drawn and all too real. The occasional plot clunker (Cohen's brother showing up on Dinah's doorstep???) keeps this from being a five-star novel. But I look forward to more books from Haigh in the future.
Profile Image for Lori.
273 reviews
May 28, 2013
I can't believe this author recieved writing accolades for this mediocre piece of writing.

It is understandable that she is attempting to write about the aftermath and ill effects of loving a con man and to show that even women you'd never suspect would get sucked in by someone like that do.

It happens all the time in real life and in real life it's easier to understand these bad choices women make to stay with men who are bad for them because you can see their many faceted character traits which did not exist for these women in the novel. They were all so flatly written as stereotypes.

A big problem I had with the novel is that it paints Mr. Kimble as a despicable villian but once again villians are not one-sided and in order for the premise of three women's lives in ruins because of one man it is necessary to understand this man's motivations and desires too. Not just why they stayed with him but why he chose them in the first place.

Adding Charlie and Jody as grownups in the end was a smart choice and perhaps that should have been her initial angle of entry into this story. I cared about them. They were believable.

I don't think it was particularly well-written. It wasn't poetic, it lacked consistency in character development, there wasn't much of a plot, the pace was unbalanced, it lacked tone.

I would stay steer clear of this one.
913 reviews401 followers
October 10, 2012
Well-written story, no question, but terribly sad. I couldn't give it more than three stars for its depressing effect.

Don't get me wrong. No gory, tragic deaths (well, maybe one semi-tragic one but kind of expected), no major child abuse (just some neglect), just some sad, sad stories of three women who fall for the same rotten remorseless guy. They're well-evoked, and it's an absorbing read which is probably why my reaction is as strong as it is.

It's a good book, but don't read it if you're in the mood for something happy.
83 reviews2 followers
July 18, 2007
I bought this book at the University of Oregon Book Store with my birthday present (a gift certificate) from Casey. The book was recommended by the woman who runs the bookstore. It tells the tale of three women who all marry Mr. Kimble. A quick read, it was obvious all these women were looking for love they hoped Mr. Kimble could fulfill. In all three marriages, he falls far short as a selfish and self absorbed man. Hopefully, I find true love far different from this.
Profile Image for Jackie.
472 reviews32 followers
July 7, 2020
Well that Mr. Kimble was bit of a one, wasn’t he. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Split into 3 sections telling each wife’s story of how they met Ken & how he left them. Good stuff - 4-4.5 stars.
17 reviews
September 7, 2009
This was a great quick read book.. At first I thought that the characters, where not that great and development of the characters was poor. Then I got into the heart of the book, and the revolving main character Ken Kimble. Ken Kimble is a casanova character, that is seen as an opportunist and pries of younger women and almost accidently falls into their lives... reminds me of the quote loves them & then leaves them." Intertwined throughout the whole story is the story of Charlie Kimble, it starts when the boy is 6 years old and takes you to when he is 30. He witnesses and struggles with the role of his father, abadonment and loss of the marriage of his parents. Only towards the end do we see some interaction and anger from son to father.
The women characters are interwined throughout the book and have relationships with each other. Its almost as if Ken Kimble accidently and purposely picks these women and may or may not fall in love with them. The women are often seen as easy pry for an opportunist, such as Kimble.
I would recommend this book for someone who is looking for a summer or vacation book.. it is fast moving and easily gripping!

Profile Image for Maria (Ri).
492 reviews35 followers
June 23, 2010
I've had this book for quite a while, but finally found the right time to read it! I really enjoyed this story of a man who touches (and not usually in a very good way) so many lives. He can turn on the charm initially and draw women in only to leave them empty and wondering what went wrong. I particularly enjoyed the journey each woman took to reflect on the relationship with Ken and see the progression that they didn't realize was happening at the time. It raises questions about the importance of how the other person makes you feel both in the short and long term. Ken really seemed to be quite immature, only really able to connect with much younger women. I was intrigued by the character of Brendan the most, though he was only in the very end of the book. He seemed to embody the way we are shaped by our home environment and the potential we all have to rise out of our circumstances.

I'm glad I finally got around to reading this one. It raises so many questions in my mind about relationships and what draws us to others. This is truly great book, especially given that it is the author's first novel.
Profile Image for Tittirossa.
977 reviews218 followers
December 21, 2017
3 mogli, 3 figli, un uomo anafettivo.
Mi sfugge se Haig voleva raccontare la storia di Kimble (l'uomo), delle sue 3 (tipologie di) mogli, o degli Usa dal '60 al '90. Kimble, un pastore protestante, scompare mentre compare, lasciando la prima moglie (Birdie) con due figli e nessuna capacità pratica.
Riappare in Florida, con una sua studentessa, hippy attempato ma fascinoso.
Non sappiamo niente di lui, ma tutto delle sue mogli.
La seconda, Joan, è l'opposto della prima: giornalista famosa ed affermata, si è ritirata dopo un cancro al seno.
Soccombe al fascino di Kimble e lo sposa, portandogli in dote uno zio immobiliarista. Kimble si adatta perfettamente al contesto, si finge ebreo e fa milioni a palate vendendo case. Ma ritirandosi sempre più in se stesso (in realtà non ha mai stabilito un rapporto reale con le persone).
Joan muore, Kimble si trasferisce a Washington e reincontra la babysitter dei suoi primi 2 figli, Dinah. Bellissima ragazza con una vistosa voglia violacea su un lato del viso. La fa curare a proprie spese e poi la sposa. Per 17 anni vivranno felici e ignari l'uno dell'altro.
Fino a che lui ha un infarto (nel mezzo ci sono un figlio e una relazione extraconiugale di lei).
Dinah riunisce i figli sparsi, Kimble scappa perché ricercato per truffa, riemerge il fratello di Joan .... e finisce in modo lezioso con un volemose bene e la definitiva morte del fedifrago.
Perché raccontare la trama? perché il libro a me è sembrato solo questo: una storia ben costruita, ben raccontata (il ritratto delle moglieè spesso irritante ma avvincente), ma che non aggiunge un solo milligrammo alla comprensione umana.
E' vero, esistono uomini anafettivi ma perchè Kimble lo è? non c'è una traccia, un indizio, un niente che ci aiuti a comprendere. Non basta mettere insieme una buona trama, scritta bene.
Manca il lievito che trasforma una buona idea in un buon libro .
Profile Image for Amy.
935 reviews231 followers
December 17, 2019
Written in 2005, Mrs. Kimble is a novel by Jennifer Haigh, who is best known for her novel Faith. Which was excellent. Its probably on my books for life list. Jennifer is a fabulous engrossing writer, and she is on my authors list of entire of body of books to read/complete. I have one per year. This year was Carlos Ruiz Zafon. 2020 is Taylor Jenkins Reid.

Jennifer is a talented and engrossing writer. It feels incredibly real and in the moment. Her characters are deeply felt and come deeply alive. I think she's really something. Her plots almost don't matter, she could make the phone book compelling. But the plot of Mrs. Kimble is curious. Its the three wives over time, of Ken Kimble. A con artist, cheat, flirt, enigmatic man, who we or they really never get to truly know or understand, but each of the wives are left in his wake, as they each come to realize he is not who he seemed to be. There are three children also left in his wake, each trying to understand and metabolize the legacy of being left in the dust, and of their mothers who were duped and used and abandoned. Its really interesting, and quite compelling. And so very different. 3.5 stars.

In the last days of 2020, this is a book that was on my TBR, also that I somehow came to own, so I am delighted to knock it off for both those reasons. Its also my 95th to 96th book of the year, right in time to have finished everything for the year.
Profile Image for Krista.
1,366 reviews542 followers
October 3, 2016
Destiny, she’d learned, was written in the heavens; a person couldn’t take what the universe didn’t wish to give.

I recently had a six hour flight and, at over 400 pages, Mrs. Kimble fit the time nicely: it was an interesting enough read to fill the hours, with nothing deep or difficult about it to tax the brain. When I got to my hotel, I discreetly abandoned the book in the lobby – hoping someone else might benefit from an interesting enough read to fill some hours, neither deep nor difficult – because while it wasn't a bad book at all, it's not like I needed to keep it for my own collection. That may be all you need to know about this book, spoilers to follow.

We begin by meeting the recently abandoned Birdie; a woman who married the charismatic older choir director at her Christian college after he seduced her. After two children and having everything that she thought she ever wanted – a husband, a home, a respected place in the community – Birdie is shocked and devastated when her husband – the now Reverend Ken Kimble – runs off with an 18-year-old co-ed. There was something unnerving about this section as Birdie takes to drinking wine and neglecting her children, hoping Ken will return before the neighbours notice he's gone, the woman having no identity if she's no longer the Reverend's wife.

Skip to Joan; an independent journalist with a recent large inheritance who never regretted not settling down until a recent fight with breast cancer and a disfiguring mastectomy; who would want her now? When Ken Kimble and the co-ed show up, Joan can't help falling for his animal magnetism, and despite warnings from her friends and brother, she becomes the second Mrs. Kimble (in a nicely manipulative trick, Ken declines to mention that he and his father were both Christian ministers, instead declaring his mother was Jewish and acting surprised that this meant he was also technically Jewish and could marry Joan in the temple). Ken becomes a partner in Joan's uncle's real estate company, and despite failing to conceive the child that would have made her feel fulfilled, and despite suspicions that Ken was cheating on her, Joan leaves everything to Ken when she loses her second fight with cancer.

Jump ahead ten years and meet Dinah: a successful sous chef in a gourmet restaurant who believes she will never marry because of the strawberry birthmark that covers half of her face. When Ken knocks Dinah down in the street with his car and forces her into a long rehab that causes her to lose her job, the now fabulously wealthy real estate developer not only offers to cover all of Dinah's hospital bills and living expenses, he even hooks her up with a plastic surgeon who removes the birthmark; allowing the new and improved Dinah to become the third Mrs. Kimble. This is not a happy union as Ken spends all of his time working (and perhaps stepping out), and Dinah and their moody son, Brandon, rattle around in the big house that, like the gorgeous Dinah herself, is all for show. When Dinah impulsively decides to invite the two adult children from Ken's first marriage to a Thanksgiving dinner, Ken pays all of his attention to his son's girlfriend; exposing him as a cold-hearted womaniser to the end.

As Mrs. Kimble covers the years 1961 – 1995, it does a good job of capturing the rapidly shifting eras and the evolving attitudes towards women and their own views of marriage. However, I don't know if author Jennifer Haigh did a good enough job of explaining just why women (of increasing independence and accomplishment) would continually throw themselves at Ken Kimble (other than repeatedly stating that they couldn't help themselves), and especially because Haigh made it an oft repeated character trait that Ken was a pig at the table; his humble roots always breaking through his carefully groomed facade in a spray of flying food (this was shown so often and was such an overt signal to the reader that I found it a clumsy and heavy-handed motif). From the philandering to the gold-digging to the insistence on physical perfection (Ken traded in Birdie on a younger model, he never made love to Joan without her keeping her top on, he paid to have Dinah's birthmark removed and personally bought all of her slinky dresses for public events), I never found Ken Kimble to be attractive, and as we don't get the story from his own point-of-view, I never knew what motivated him, either. In response to those readers who might find Ken to be more monster than man, Haigh says in the end notes:

I never thought of him as a sociopath. He is in many ways a very ordinary person. He simply takes what is given to him.

In the final analysis, Mrs. Kimble has an interesting plot – and especially as it shows the social evolution of its period – but it didn't feel like it was populated with real people. Fine for a long flight; no regrets ditching it in a lobby.
Profile Image for Teddie.
222 reviews3 followers
August 24, 2022
Question for the author: When did the bar for "ordinary men" get so low?

This book starts out with a brief story about a man who had a heart attack and died in his car while waiting for a drawbridge to go down. He had half a million dollars in the bank. No one came to claim the body.

"Mrs. Kimble" is a book about three women, Birdie, Joan, and Dinah, who all married a man named Ken Kimble. And it's about a self-centered, amoral chameleon named Ken Kimble.

Birdie met Reverend Ken Kimble in the early '60's during her first year at Bible college, where he was the choir director. She was eighteen and he in his early thirties when she became pregnant and they got married. Birdie couldn't help but be secretly overjoyed, knowing all the other female students were envious of her.

Fast forward seven years. Birdie now has two young children, no money, no job, and no husband. Ken Kimble ran off with one of his students, and Birdie has no idea how to take care of herself, let alone her children. She finds solace in a wine bottle. Her six year old son is more mature and responsible then she is.

Fast forward to the early '70's. Joan, a successful career woman who has had an exciting life and a succession of lovers, had never felt the need to settle down. But now she's nearing forty. She's a wealthy woman, but has no husband and no children, and an ugly scar where one of her breasts used to be. She wonders what man could possibly want her now.

Then an aging hippy named Ken Kimble comes into her life. He tells her he's Jewish (because Joan is). Ken cuts his hair, shaves his beard, starts dressing in expensive suits, and pretty soon is running the real estate business started by Joan's father and uncle. She feels so fortunate to have met Ken Kimble, so when he asks her to marry him, of course she accepts. After the marriage, Joan doesn't feel so fortunate.

Fast forward to the late '70's. Dinah, who went to culinary school, works in a restaurant. She would be a beautiful young woman if it wasn't for the big red birthmark on one side of her face that looks like a map of Minnesota. Her life changes when a man named Ken Kimble runs into her (literally).

Fast forward to 1994. Dinah is attending yet another black tie dinner to honor her husband for the charitable foundation he set up to help low-income people buy homes. Dinah has been married to Ken Kimble for 15 years. She didn't know that after he paid for plastic surgery to remove her birthmark, she would become his trophy wife. She also didn't know that there is nothing "charitable" about Ken Kimble. The only other thing I'll say about Dinah is that her life is about to get better. Ken Kimble is about to leave wife No. 3.

I loved this book. It's not for everybody, but it's a perfect example of a perfect book for me to get lost in. I devoured it, and I can't wait to read something else by this author. However, I do take issue with something author Jennifer Haight wrote in the Author's Notes, indicating that Ken Kimble isn't such a bad guy. In her own words, "He is, in fact, a very ordinary man; he simply takes what is given to him." I would like to ask Ms. Haight, "When did the bar for men get that low?"

Five stars for the book. Another five stars for the book cover. And a minus five stars for "ordinary men" like Ken Kimble.
Profile Image for Fredsky.
215 reviews3 followers
September 12, 2009

My first reading of this book went badly and I put it aside as the kind of book I don't like. But then, relenting before I took it back to the library, I did pretty much read it... but completely out of order, randomly, and then an attempt to get the story line more accurately. It's an interesting concept, to tell about one man (or snake, as you might prefer) through the three women he married and, of course, dumped. I did not think any of the characters were well-drawn. We knew that Mr. Kimball was a creep, but other than the way he mashed all his food together and swirled it on his plate before eating it we don't really know much more about him than any of his three wives. He's somewhat bloodless. He could have been so much more hideous!

The three wives were written with the same lack of color. An attempt was made, but Haigh didn't give them a whole lot to work with either. Had this been written by Anita Brookner, there would be enough surrounding the characters that would reveal their identity and implications at the same time. But no. I think this novel, for all its many pages, is thin and lacking in imagination. It's too bad.
Profile Image for Jess Dormstetter.
59 reviews2 followers
January 17, 2012
I thoroughly enjoyed this book! Jennifer Haigh did an excellent job of taking three small stories and tying them together in one large story. She was effectively able to get me emotionally involved...I often found myself angry/annoyed with Ken Kimble and, at times, his wives also. She claims she did not write Ken Kimble to be a sociopath...but I can't see him as anything else. With each of his wives, he has the same personality and habits...just uses them in different ways to get what he needs/wants. He fed off their vulnerabilities to lure them in...and for whatever reason they found him irresistible...which was most likely their desperation for a partner. It was written beautifully, a story that quite possibly could have been choppy and all over the place. Everything flowed well and she did a great job of tying things together. We'll never know exactly what Ken's motivations were...but I think that if we got definite answers, things would have been tied together too neatly.
Profile Image for Sanela K..
128 reviews9 followers
September 12, 2022
Samo ću reći da mi je žao što mi je trebalo ovoliko vremena da je konačno nabavim i pročitam, a postoji već nekih 19 godina. Ovakve knjige baš volim. Jedna je od rijetkih koje jednostavno ne mogu ispustiti iz ruku i kad vidim koliko je sati a moram sutra poraniti na posao, tačno mi bude žao da je ostavim nepročitanu istu veče. Ovo je jedna od knjiga koja je puna psihologije, što ja, kao psiholog, baš volim, natjera te da razmišljaš i kao psiholog i kao privatno lice. Takođe stil pisanja je odličan, rečenice su savršene dužine i bez nepotrebne pretencioznosti. I nema puno likova čija imena uvijek teško popamtim, pogotovo ako počinju istim slovom. Da se mene pita, nazvala bih knjigu „Gospođe Kimbl“ (u množini) ali pretpostavljam da na drugim jezicima ipak to drugačije zvuči. Na koricama vidite sliku tri haljine koje vise na ofingerima (vješalicama) i koje simbolično predstavljaju svaku od žena koje su u jednom dijelu svog života bile udate za istog čovjeka, Kena, prezime Kimbl. Tu su Berdi, Džoana i Dina... Zatim dvoje djece iz Kenovog prvog braka i jedno dijete iz trećeg braka: Čarli, Džodi i Brendon. Ne želim da pravim spojlere, ali moram reći da tokom čitanja knjige počnete razmišljati o svojim vezama i odnosima u kojim se nalazite sa drugim ljudima, kao i o tome ko ste zapravo vi sami i kakvi ste u svakoj od njih (vezi). Čitajući kako Ken, tipičan predator kojem je stalo samo do njega samoga, beznačajnog izgleda i ne baš finih manira, uspješno zavodi žene ne samo svoje supruge, nego i ljubavnice koje je pored njih imao, zapitate se koliko ljudi zapravo laže, izostavljaju istinu ili bitne podatke, glume dok im nešto treba. Zapitate se da li je gore prepoznati pojavu ili biti naivan, sav pozitivan, ali onda se svako malo razočarati zbog svega preko čega prelazite. Zapitate se i šta je to u čovjeku, ili u ovom slučaju, u ženi, da, bez obzira na postignuća, čitav svoj svijet i kompletan svoj život uporno gradi oko jedne osobe koja to, kako se kasnije ispostavi, uopšte i ne zaslužuje, niti se uopšte trudi, kada već jednom postigne svoj cilj... I da dozvoli sebi da je to psihički, a često i fizički uništi. Kraj je takođe baš dobar, kao i početak. Moja preporuka za čitanje, ocjena 5 zvjezdica. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Profile Image for Meg.
1,384 reviews33 followers
December 24, 2022
I really enjoyed this one. From the POV of the three successive wives of Ken Kimble, it spans several decades and is a great character driven story.
Profile Image for Sophia.
144 reviews8 followers
April 26, 2020
I liked this a lot more than I thought I would. At first for some reason, I thought it was set in England so it was a bit of a jolt when the author started describing the landscape of Missouri. What's interesting about this is that none of the characters is particularly likeable (except for Charlie) and Mr. Kimble is a piece of work. However, the story and plot is written so well that that doesn't really matter. It kind of breaks the style of many books with similar premises because of this. I did really know what to make of everything by the end, except that Mr. Kimble is an awful predator who goes around ruining peoples lives.
Profile Image for Pamela Small.
429 reviews38 followers
May 7, 2014
Some reviewers stated MRS.KIMBLE was a quick read, but this reviewer did not find it to be a quick read or easy to read due to the disquieting dark content. It was emotionally unsettling, and I had to take numerous breaks in reading. Having said that, it is an important piece of literature. I was annoyed and outraged at the gullible wives who fell for Ken Kimble. I was sickened that bright women would allow themselves to be emotionally abused. by a pathological liar and an amoral narcissist. The first 230 pages were dreadful. However, with the narration of wife # 3, the tone of the novel turns as Dinah, the strongest of the three Mrs. Kimble's, is not so dependent and needy of Mr.Kimble. At this point, the book becomes captivating!

The author convincingly develops all the characters ( except the main antagonist, Ken). The author's craft is amazing! The voice of each victim is narrated poignantly. The plot is simple: three stories of three wives. But, the underlying themes are far from simple. The illusion of marriage, love, the desperation of women, the destructive force of insecurities, the fear of loneliness, and the devastating lack of self-worth with which women perceive themselves, are underlying thematic issues that are painfully, yet astutely, addressed. Yes! a difficult read, yet a timely and important one for all women!
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