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The Rebel Wife [Hardcover]

Taylor M. Polites

Price: 15.48 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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HardCover. Pub Date: 2012 Pages: 304 in Publisher: Simon & Schuster imming with atmosphere and edgy withsuspense The Rebel Wife presents a young widow trying to survive in the violent world of Reconstruction Alabama the where the old gentility masks a continuing war fueled by hatred. treachery. and still-powerful secrets. Augusta anson was born into antebellum Southern nobility during a time of wealth and prosperity. but now all that is gone. and she is left standing in the ashes of a oken civilization. When her scalawag husband dies suddenly of a mysterious blood plague. she must fend for herself and her young son. Slowly she begins to wake to the reality of her new life: her social standing is stained by her marriage; she is alone and unprotected in a community that is being destroyed by racial prejudice and violence; the fortune she thought she would inherit does not exis...

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.9 out of 5 stars  74 reviews
24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A distinctive Gothic story of desperation and transformation 9 Feb 2012
By Redbrarian - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
In his debut novel, Taylor Polites spins a page-turning story of desperation and transformation, set during the unstable Reconstruction Era. Polites' attraction to both historical research and eerie Gothic motifs -terror, darkness, miasma, attraction, and deception- led him to craft something original, a subtle mystery that took me by surprise. I would recommend reading it on a hot summer night, if you can wait that long.

At its core, the plot is propelled by fraught obsession, as the widowed heroine of The Rebel Wife, Augusta, relentlessly struggles to hold-tight to what is hers. Augusta's anxiety is more than warranted, in a time and place when single women had limited control of their income, kin, and even their households. Fans of Jean Rhys, Daphne du Maurier (My Cousin Rachel) and Maggie O'Farrell (My Lover's Lover, After You'd Gone) will appreciate Augusta's unrelenting mind, along with the sticky pace at which Polites' brings her closer to her elusive objective, which may or may not exist. That's all I'll say about the plot; I despise spoilers!

I loved this book, though I don't often read historical fiction. Polites ends his novel with an impressive bibliography -- full of history monographs you that you read in grad school. Despite his academic research, the novel is not an event-driven story of war and disease. This book is character driven. Any research conducted by Polites influenced details of setting, behavior, dialogue, and dress. Thank you, Taylor Polites, for avoiding battle scenes, and all of their tedious details.

I look forward to reading future works by this promising new novelist!
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Songs of the South ring through this novel! 4 Mar 2012
By The Bookish Dame - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
"The Rebel Wife" is an easily entertaining, enjoyable book, and I think many have forgotten that that's important any time we assess the value of literature; it is this singular reason we read at all. Without this primary component, no one would read. If a book cannot entertain, cause us to become "lost in it," in its "other world" liness,then it can't be called a "good book." As reviewers we sometimes forget this important factor, as it pales in comparison to our vain attempts at flowery and intelligent-groping descriptions... I'm happy to report this is a very good book.

I'm a Southern girl, born and bred, read all the books that Taylor mentions, did similar research, belonged to historical restoration foundations, you name it... I've had a bone-bred love of all things that made and still make the South what it is. My family's blood was spilled to build up and tear down and rebuild both the North and the South for many generations. I understand Mr. Polites heart and a bit of his soul in this book, I believe.

His cadence touches my heart. I hear it in his writing. The songs of the South...the speech... I hear and see the familiar peoples. My mind can see the church people, the hymns being hummed, the boy in the black suit ringing the bell down the dusty street proclaiming the death of Mr. Eli; it's in my blood. I can feel the heat of a summer day when the ice melts on your sweet tea before you can taste it. And I know the condescension of Southern men; particularly toward unprotected and unmarried women. I recognize the prejudices and the powers of those who seem to be the powerless. It delights my heart to read about strong women who overcome. How beautifully and craftily and quietly Taylor Polites has laid these things bare for us, and for those who can "see" and those who can "hear."

This book is not a new "Gone With The Wind," so I hope the expectation of that isn't found here. I love GWTW for what it is and what it represents of the Old South. It's a classic, and nothing will replace that wonderful book in American literature. Rather, "A Rebel Wife" is a new interpretation. It touches upon the subtle ways peace and readjustment came to the South, and continues to be won there. I love it for what it has to say. It's a worthy book, and it's a beautiful story.
22 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars post Civil War intrigue 22 Dec 2011
By Chris Finklein - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
My certain depictions of the Civil War era radiates from 'Gone With the Wind.' There have not been many novels or even short stories written about what it must have been like to survive those years following the horrors that ripped our country apart in the early 1860's. Other than nonfiction history books accounting the economic hardships and some of the reconstruction involved in putting the ravaged south back together there has been little written about what it must have been like to live in the after effects of emancipation of the black man and the attempts for women to exist in an era where men ruled everything unconditionally.

This is an intriguing story about a woman who tries to piece her life back together following the unexpected death of her husband. Prior to his passing she occupied herself with the inane comings and goings of most southern women who lived lives void of any controversy other than what to wear to the latest social occasion. Obviously money is the essential ingredient in minimal supply and there are various details reflecting questionable activities surrounding investors, negroes, attempts at civil rights and other contrary behaviors not deemed acceptable by southern gentlemen. Trying to unravel the puzzles of where the money really is, who is telling the truth and all the mixed messages pelting her left and right Gus makes every effort to sort thru the mess and reach a solid understanding. Between the confines of men demanding they have the answers, old vibes from a suitor she could have married and the struggles with her house help who are determined to move out of the area in order to survive, Gus is layered in emotions, questions and the infernel heat. Knowing the aching humidity and oppressive temperatures in the heart of the south, the heat becomes the metaphor for everything unraveling. The author portrays the various characters with a keen perspective and generous adjectives that allow the reader to step into the frustration and entrapment as the story unfolds.

For anyone who enjoys Civil War stories or has an interest in post war living this is an excellent read. I would highly recommend this to anyone who is familiar with the scope of what the Civil War unleashed on our society which has yet to be completely worked thru. This is a tool for appreciating the complexities of southern attitudes and much of the race issue that still lingers to this day. It's not a very long story but it's packed with realities and lots of intrigue to keep you guessing and wondering.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars High Gothic in the Reconstrcuction Era Deep South 5 April 2012
By B. A. Chaney - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
The Rebel Wife is set in a small town in northern Alabama ten years after the end of the Civil War. Augusta, a southern belle from a slaveholding family in the prewar days, has just lost her husband Eli, a man she was forced into marrying in the days after the end of the war. Eli has done well since the end of the war, leading the Freedman's Bank and helping freed slaves. This activity has made him few friends in the local white community, where the Knights of the White Cross are becoming active. Augusta's cousin, Judge, steps in to help her manage Eli's estate, but it soon becomes clear that Judge may not have her true interests at heart.

I really enjoyed this Gothic depiction of a life and town in turmoil 10 years after the end of the Civil War. Augusta is an unconventional southern heroine for this time period--she's neither a plucky Scarlett or a helpless damsel--and she really develops as a character over the course of the novel. She strikes me as a character who wants to survive, which makes her interesting to follow. No one in the Rebel Wife is quite who they seem, and I felt like this shiftiness gave the novel a feel that was pretty accurate for this area of uncertainty.

I would recommend this novel to fans of historical fiction and gothic literature. It's definitely an interesting one, and I felt like the plot twists and quality of writing really kept me engaged.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a page turner! 29 Mar 2012
By scmom - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Augusta Branson was born during the time of slavery in the south. Her family owned several slaves and she is accustomed to that lifestyle as well as society. Soon after the end of slavery she marries a Northener who was knows to help the newly freed slaves. This made her a pariah in her circles. She was largely unaware of this until her husband died.

Augusta grew up and married into an extreemley sheltered existence. She had little knowledge of what was going on around her with the slaves, war and politics until her husband came home suffering from blood fever and died shortly thereafter leaving her to pick up the pieces.

Her cousin, The Judge, intervenes on her behalf to help settle her estate. The more questions she asks about her husband's business and the more she looks into his dealings the more she begins to question who she can trust to look after her and her son, Henry. She begins to question society, racial separation and the steadfast politics and ideals that many in her small southern town are desperately clinging to.

I must say that at first, I really didn't like Augusta. She was cold, especially to her son, and didn't come across as I would assume a character that was genuinely looking racism, politics and southern society in the eye would. But, the more I read, the more I saw the subtleties the Polites pointed out. He did a wonderful job showing how truly sheltered from the world Augusta was and how firmly she held on to the sensibilities and societal workings she knew. She very gradually came out of herself to take a good look around her and see what was going on. Polites has the reader taking that journey with her, we aren't given any hints from other characters into what is truly going on with the estate, The Judge, the blood fever her husband dies of and of his business dealings. We slowly find out who Augusta can and cannot trust.

I liked the picture Polites painted of the small town. The unbearable heat during Augusta's struggles is practically a character in itself. At first people are just blaming illnesses and deaths on the heat, which isn't unheard of there. Then people start leaving town because of the blood fever.

I must say, this is one of the best books I've read in a long time. I'm not a southerner, but I do live in the south and this was such an unexpected pleasure into the societal history, racism and slavery. I was surprised when I turned to the dustjacket and found Taylor Polites is a man. The subtlities with which he describes this shelterd, somewhat spoiled woman are quite good. I would wholeheartedly recommend this book to another and am going to read it again myself.
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