What sane woman would consider becoming any man's ninth wife?
Bess Gray is a thirty-five-year-old folklorist and amateur martial artist living in Washington, DC. Just as she's about to give up all hope of marriage, she meets Rory, a charming Irish musician, and they fall in love. But Rory is a man with a secret, which he confesses to Bess when he asks for her hand: He's been married eight times before. Shocked, Bess embarks on a quest she feels she must undertake before she can give him an answer. With her bickering grandparents (married sixty-five years), her gay neighbor (himself a mystery), a shar-pei named Stella, and a mannequin named Peace, Bess sets out on a cross-country journey—unbeknownst to Rory—to seek out and question the wives who came before. What she discovers about her own past is far more than she bargained for.
When Bess finally finds that special someone who wants to share his life with her, Rory has just one small surprise- he has been married 8 times before! As she tried to work through her feelings about his past and theor future, she embarks on a cross country road trip from DC to take her grandparents to their new home in AZ, stopping along the way to meet as many of Rory's former wives as she can find.
From the description and flap copy, I expected a standard chick-lit book, full of humor and froth. What I got instead was a well-crafted family drama that explores love in all its different incarnations. The backstories here are poignant and complicated, giving the book a depth that I did not expect. Bess and Rory are great characters, as are Bess' friends and grandparents (who sounds quirky in the flap copy but are actually quite tragic in their way). I found it hard to put this excellent novel down and highly recommend it.