The Second Mrs. Hockaday – Susan Rivers

Extraordinary.

This was the first of two books I coincidentally read in recent months which described the horrors of the Southern homefront during the Civil War. Here the horrors were more tangential, dealt with more matter-of-factly, never the main focus of the story but a backdrop for the central question of what happened to the Second Mrs. Hockaday, and yet those horrors were just as successfully conveyed as horrors here as in that other book, where they were more closely detailed. It’s for damn sure that when the Doctor finally lands in my living room and asks me when and where I want to go, my answer may be “anywhere but the Confederate States of America anytime in the late 1800’s”.

But that is not the main point of the narrative. That would be too easy. What it actually is is the slow and gradual unraveling of a terrible secret– the sort of mystery that you’re warned against trying to unravel, because it will change you forever. The first Mrs. Hockaday, the second Mrs. Hockaday, slave and master, infant and adult, death and life – all are tangled and entwined into a knot of pain … and a little surprising joy.

I thought of Gryffth’s mouth on my neck, his laughter shaking the bed. Can one die of loneliness, I asked myself? I thought I heard the first Mrs. Hockaday’s voice in my head, saying: I did.

The usual disclaimer: I received this book via Netgalley for review.

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