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2024 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Ninth Wife Leaves Me Awfully Ambivalent

(Image from Indiebound)

It's bad enough that Bess Gray's turning 35, but to make matters a whole lot worse, she's facing the milestone alone. No husband. No kids. She always figured she'd have both by now, plus a house in the suburbs to boot. That was how she planned to spend her thirties. Not that the last 35 years have been a complete bust - she's got a job she loves, several close, devoted friends and a karate class that's keeping her svelte. She just hasn't found Mr. Right. Yet.

In an attempt to remedy the situation, Bess agrees to host a singles party at her Washington, D.C. apartment. She's not expecting much, certainly not a trip to the ER, but that's what she gets. In the melee, she also meets Rory McMillan, a 46-year-old Irish fiddler. With his irresistible accent, good looks, and laidback personality, Rory seems close to perfect. It's only when he pops the question that Bess learns a shocking truth about this ideal man: not only has he been married before, but he's been married eight times before. Reeling from Rory's revelation, Bess starts to reconsider everything she's been anxiously considering since the moment she met Rory. She would be insane to become someone's ninth wife, wouldn't she? Even if that someone is a sweet, handsome, gem of a man?

Torn between her feelings for Rory and the obvious implication of his eight failed marriages, Bess embarks on a head-clearing road trip across the country. Only there's not a lot of quiet contemplation time with a van full of needy passengers. Along for the ride are Bess' best friend, Cricket, whose usual flamboyance seems to be flagging; Cricket's Shar-Pei, Stella; Bess' bickering grandparents; and a mannequin named Peace. While she sorts out their problems, Bess also tracks down as many of Rory's ex-wives as she can find. Rory knows nothing of her investigation into his sordid past and Bess is not planning to tell him until she has enough evidence to make up her mind about his proposal.

Crossing the country with her quirky passengers will be an illuminating experience for Bess, who learns a great deal about love, life, and most of all, about herself.

The Ninth Wife, the first adult book by YA author Amy Stolls, is a zany novel that delves into so many issues, I'm not sure how to even begin dissecting it. I'm also not sure how I felt about it. The story pulled me in, but went on for so long that I got a bit bored, even with all the curveballs the plot threw at me. It kept me guessing, that's for sure. Still, I never felt any real connection with the book and the ending didn't surprise me in the least. So, I don't know, I'm feeling awfully ambivalent about the whole thing. Didn't love it, didn't hate it, don't know whether or not to recommend it. How's that for helpful?

(Readalikes: Hm, I can't really think of anything. Can you?)

Grade: C

If this were a movie, it would be rated: R for strong language, depictions of illegal drug use, and sexual content

To the FTC, with love: I received a finished copy of The Ninth Wife from the generous folks at Harper Collins and TLC Book Tours, for whom this review was written. Thank you!


  1. Thanks for your review. I saw this book and considered it but now I'll pass it by. Appreciate your honesty!

  2. It sounds a little like the movie Little Black Book. I think I'll pass it by, I hate when books run a little long.

  3. Well, I may not be interested in reading the book but your review was so good that now I have to know: How does it end? Email me!

  4. I'm sorry this one didn't keep your interest, but I appreciate the detailed review. Thanks for being a part of the tour.

  5. Hi Susan!
    You visited my blog awhile ago, but I was a new book blogger and wasn't really organized yet, so am just now replying to comments and repaying visits :). Now that I'm more organized and set up, I will definitely be responding to comments promptly and visiting my favorite blogs on a regular basis!

    Anyways, thanks for sharing your honest review :). I saw this book at the bookstore and considered it, but now I'm glad I passed it by. Looking forward to keeping up with your blog on a regular basis! :)


  6. hahah!

    i read this book a few weeks ago and ended up really enjoying it. i definitely know what you mean though about the pure length of it. when i first picked it up i almost didn't even want to read it because it was so long, but i ended up really loving rory. what can i say, i love the optimistic, hopeless romantic.

  7. I'm with toothybooks, I actually really enjoyed this book a lot. I was surprised, as the book was really long, but I think it went well in detailing the history and then some when it came to Bess and Rory. But that's just me! Stopping by cause I was on the tour, too. :)


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