Susan Rivers sets this spellbinding, haunting human drama against the backdrop of the civil war. Told through exquisitely crafted letters and diary entries, the delicious pacing leads to revelations both intriguing and unnerving. I was sorry to reach the end of this stunning debut.
— Diane Chamberlain, USA Today bestselling author of the Silent Sister
 

THE SECOND MRS. HOCKADAY

published by Algonquin Books

SHORT-listed for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize 2017

An INDIE NEXT PICK for January 2017

A LIBRARY READS PICK for January 2017

An OKRA PICK for Winter 2017

It's 1865 and the Civil War is over.  For some survivors, however, the suffering is just beginning.  A Confederate field officer walks home from a Union prison to reunite with his teen-aged bride, only to discover that she birthed a child while he was away and buried it somewhere on their South Carolina farm.  Through a narrative that unfolds in letters, diary entries and inquest reports, the wife's painful story is eventually revealed, while the far-reaching repercussions of war are explored.  We see how the damage incurred by Gryffth and Placidia Hockaday has the power to dismantle and transform the lives of ensuing generations, white as well as black, and are witness to the healing powers of love.


I gobbled this book up in one in luscious sitting, wishing I could slow down and savor the prose but too eager to find out what happened. Ms. Rivers is an unflinching truth teller. Her characters are so deeply human, drawn with compassion and exquisite detail.
— Hillary Jordan, author of Mudbound and When She Woke

Reviews

Booklist Starred Review

“With language evocative of the South (“craggy as a shagbark stump”) and taut, almost unbearable suspense, dramatized by characters readers will swear they know, this galvanizing historical portrait of courage, determination, and abiding love mesmerizes and shocks. Similar in tone and descriptive flow to Charles Frazier’s Cold Mountain (1997) and with the compelling narratives found in Robert Hicks’ The Widow of the South (2005).”


"(Rivers') masterful prose captures the nuances of Southern mid-19th century diction. Each patiently unspooled revelation feels organic, urgent and essential to its form. Placidia’s voice is penetrating and her observations about the singular truths of war are vivid and illuminating."

-- Anjali Enjeti, critic for the Atlanta Journal Constitution