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Review: The Rebel Wife

February 7, 2012

After the Civil War left her family penniless, Augustus (Gus) was forced to marry a wealthy man who made his money in a less than desirable fashion.  When her husband dies from a blood fever ten years later she comes to realize that her reputation has suffered because of him.  She doesn’t know where her husband’s money is so she finds herself penniless all over again.  Desperate, Gus turns to Simon, a former slave and old family servant, to help her find the stash of money her husband hid away.  It seems that others are after the money as well, so Gus and Simon need to figure things out fast.

I generally don’t read much historical fiction, but I enjoyed The Rebel Wife by Taylor Polites.  Set in post Civil War Alabama, the book is very well researched and rich with atmosphere.  Told from Gus’s point of view, the book shows how powerless and repressed women and blacks were at the time.

I really liked the character of Gus.  She started out as a typical woman of the time period, with no control over her own life,  but when she realized that she had no one to rely on, she took action in an exciting climax to the book.  She became determined and remained loyal to those who helped her.   Reading about her life made me very glad I didn’t live at that time.

I have a feeling that historical fiction lovers will enjoy The Rebel Wife even more than I did.  I think the one thing that kept me from loving it is the fact that it’s told in the present tense – for some reason that bothered me.  With the meticulous research and attention to detail he put into this book, I feel sure Polites has a big future ahead of him.

Review copy provided by Simon & Schuster.  I am an Indiebound Affiliate.

45 Comments leave one →
  1. February 7, 2012 5:19 am

    I think I’d like this.

  2. February 7, 2012 6:32 am

    Hm, I do love historical fiction :=) I need to google a bit

  3. February 7, 2012 6:41 am

    I like historical fiction from time to time but not sure this would be for me –title is new to me. Thanks for sharing with us.

  4. February 7, 2012 7:03 am

    I thought Taylor really went the mile on his research, and the descriptions of their surroundings really made the story come alive. I almost started sweating just reading about the heat wave they were in. I had another tour to post today, so my review will be coming Thursday. I’m very proud of Taylor’s debut.

  5. Lisa Garrett permalink
    February 7, 2012 7:04 am

    Great review. I love historical fiction and I think I would love this one.

  6. February 7, 2012 7:51 am

    I really don’t care for present tense either but it sounds otherwise like something I’d enjoy.

  7. February 7, 2012 8:28 am

    Interesting about writing in the present tense. I don’t think I would like that either!

  8. February 7, 2012 8:44 am

    I like Civil War books, especially is they are well researched. Nice review!

  9. February 7, 2012 8:46 am

    I love that time period so this book would probably appeal to me!

  10. February 7, 2012 8:49 am

    I really want to read this one. I love historical fiction. Thanks for the review.

  11. February 7, 2012 9:01 am

    sounds interesting, thanks for reviewing!

  12. February 7, 2012 9:33 am

    I do think that Taylor is going to be a big name as well. I just loved this story, and you are right, the climax had me twisting in my seat, wondering what was going to happen! Such a great book! I also really liked your review. It was clean and tight and expressed all the best things about the story.

  13. February 7, 2012 10:12 am

    This is definitely on my list — I know it’s just my kind of read. I love the time period and the setting.

  14. February 7, 2012 10:15 am

    This sounds like a great book, but dear GOD, the cover. Such a crap cover. lol

  15. Jenny Q permalink
    February 7, 2012 10:15 am

    Glad you liked it. I’m not a big fan of present tense in histfic, either. But he really has a way with setting and atmosphere.

  16. February 7, 2012 10:41 am

    I hadn’t heard of this one. You definitely have me intrigued.

  17. February 7, 2012 10:42 am

    This is definitely going on my list which has achieved monumental status at this point.

  18. February 7, 2012 11:54 am

    I think it’s really hard to pull off present tense. I’ve only read a few books where I felt it worked. Still, this sounds like a good book, especially if you were able to enjoy it without being a lover of historical fiction.

  19. February 7, 2012 12:09 pm

    Kathy, Anna’s comments say what I’d say if I’d gotten here sooner! Let me add that I enjoyed reading your succinct review, and that I’d probably also like the character of Gus, who seems to be discovering her hidden strengths.

  20. February 7, 2012 12:31 pm

    I like stories about women who come to the realization that they control their own lives. It always makes for good a-haa moments.

  21. February 7, 2012 12:32 pm

    This is on my shelf to read soon, great review.

  22. February 7, 2012 2:19 pm

    I just put this on my list of books to read. Thanks for the suggestion.

  23. February 7, 2012 2:39 pm

    I’ve had a hard time finding Civil War books that I enjoy. This one has been getting positive reviews, so it gives me hope.

  24. Carol Wong permalink
    February 7, 2012 2:42 pm

    I love historical fiction. Besides the book being good, I love the character’s name. I have never seen it in a book. My grandmother named some of her female children according to when they were born: Augusta, Octavia and my mother, Mae.

  25. February 7, 2012 2:47 pm

    Great review, Kathy – glad you’re a Taylor fan!

  26. February 7, 2012 3:35 pm

    Well I like the sound of this one. Quite a different pov. Thanks for bringing this to my attention.

  27. February 7, 2012 4:36 pm

    I love the sound of this one, too. It is nice to be able to step out of what I always read to explore new genres…

  28. Stacy permalink
    February 7, 2012 4:40 pm

    I have this one on my desk to review & as a historical fiction lover I found the setting to be incredibly believable. I can’t imagine having to live in that time period. Makes me wonder what they will say about us in a hundred years!

  29. February 7, 2012 5:50 pm

    This is definitely one I will check out. I love the cover too!

  30. February 7, 2012 6:23 pm

    Oh I love books set during/right after the Civil War so I’ll have to look into getting this one!

  31. February 7, 2012 7:06 pm

    I noticed that Oprah had this one her list of books to read for February too. I’m not a huge fan of historical fiction but I’m planning to add this one to my list.

  32. February 7, 2012 7:34 pm

    Really enjoyed your review. Although I’m not normally drawn to historical fiction, I am now very interested in reading this book! Put it on my TBR list, thanks!

  33. February 7, 2012 7:48 pm

    This book caught my attention a few days ago. As a lover of historical fiction, I requested it right away.

  34. February 7, 2012 8:00 pm

    Historical fiction isn’t my thing really … not sure I’ll check this out or not.

  35. February 7, 2012 8:30 pm

    This sounds like one that I would love….great review!

  36. February 8, 2012 10:35 am

    Historical fiction doesn’t work too well for me usually, so I’m not sure about this. But I like that you were able to enjoy it despite it not being your usual fare either.

  37. February 8, 2012 4:20 pm

    I think this is one of those books I would enjoy. I like a good strong female character. I am curious about Gus!

  38. February 8, 2012 10:31 pm

    I’m not much of an historical fiction lover, but your review makes the book sound very interesting!

  39. February 8, 2012 10:40 pm

    I don’t read a lot of historical fiction either, but this one looks interesting. I like women who have to discover their own strength.

  40. February 9, 2012 11:24 am

    I love Civil War-era historical fiction, so I’m very excited to read this one! Sounds like a different sort of story.

  41. February 9, 2012 4:45 pm

    I’ve seen a couple reviews of this one and it’s on my wishlist as a must read!

  42. February 10, 2012 2:17 pm

    I love historical fiction, but it’s been awhile since I’ve read something from the Civil War era. It looks good!

  43. February 10, 2012 2:51 pm

    If you think this book is good despite the fact that historical fiction is not your genre then I know it’s good! I’ve added it to my list of books to read.

  44. February 10, 2012 3:46 pm

    Sorry you didn’t love this one but sounds like it was still an enjoyable read. I have a copy of it myself and now I’m really interested in reading it to see what my thoughts are.

  45. February 19, 2012 3:12 pm

    I like to read about the Civil War. I also like to read about hidden treasure in old houses. This does seem like an interesting story. This poor woman’s life seems to turn from bad to good to bad again. I like the adventure of it.

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