In Need of a Good Wife

Publisher Berkley/Putnam, October 1, 2012

Richly detailed, vivid, and unforgettable, this is an extraordinary novel about three women challenging the American West—and unpredictable fate—for a future only the most daring can secure…

For Clara Bixby, brokering mail-order brides is a golden business opportunity—and a desperately needed chance to start again. If she can help New York women find husbands in a far-off Nebraska town, she can build an independent new life away from her own loss and grief.

Clara’s ambitions are shared by two other women, who are also willing to take any risk. Quiet immigrant Elsa hopes to escape her life of servitude and at last shape her own destiny. And Rowena, the willful, impoverished heiress, jumps at the chance to marry a humble stranger and repay a heartbreaking debt. All three struggle to find their true place in the world, leaving behind who they were in order to lay claim to the person they want to be. Along the way, each must face unexpected obstacles and dangerous choices, but they also help to forge a nation unlike any that came before.

“Rare is the book these days that captures my undivided attention, but this story enchanted me, reminding me of a time in my life when reading was a comforting adventure, and my hope was to fall in love with a book and its characters. Painting vivid images of the poverty of post-Civil War Manhattan City and the harrows of Destination, Nebraska, McNees weaves a hopeful, compelling story of love and resilience so engaging it is impossible to put down.”
— Robin Oliveira, author of My Name Is Mary Sutter

“In Need of A Good Wife is a beautifully wrought story, every page bursting with poetry and adventure. McNees sweeps us west with such hope and excitement that we ache and rejoice, celebrate and cry, as Clara Bixby’s band of mail-order brides leaves behind the bustling streets of New York City to search for new beginnings on the flat Nebraska landscape. A simply gorgeous book that will stay with you long after you read the last word!”
— Susan Gregg Gilmore, author of Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen and The Improper Life of Bezellia Grove

“You will fall in love with the brave, resourceful women in this utterly captivating novel—some beautiful, some worn but not defeated, all amazingly resilient—as they travel across 19th century America to a small dingy town in Nebraska to marry strangers and make better lives for themselves. Kelly O’Connor McNees writes with warmth, drama, humor, and tenderness, of love, loss, and hope and how happiness can be found in the most unlikely situations if you open your heart.”
— Stephanie Cowell, author of Claude & Camille: A Novel of Monet

“Reading In Need of a Good Wife is like going on a great adventure into the past. As you turn the pages, you’ll find love, imagination, and a kind of charm I didn’t know existed anymore. It’s a wonderful book–sturdy and delicate all at once.”
— Rebecca Rasmussen, author of The Bird Sisters

“The three central, compelling women of In Need of a Good Wife are each, in turn, terribly lost and deeply brave. I adored them and rooted for them in their struggles, worrying about them when life forced me to set the book down to eat, work, and sleep. I found it deliciously satisfying that the redemption I wished for each of them arrived in completely unexpected ways, taking both me and the characters by surprise.”
— Katrina Kittle, author of The Blessings of the Animals

“Life kicked ‘Bixby’s Belles’ in the teeth, but they got back up for another round. Their determination inspires as their story captivates. With graceful prose and historical settings that shine with vitality, In Need of a Good Wife is unforgettable.”
— Kristina Riggle, author of Real Life and Liars and Things We Didn’t Say

“Anyone who grew up on Little House on the Prairie will instantly fall in love with this book. Kelly O’Connor McNees brilliantly captures the hope and hardships of the American West, and has created a story destined to be a classic.”
–Tasha Alexander, author of A Crimson Warning

“Vivid, generous, funny, and often quite moving, In Need of a Good Wife casts light on a little-known corner of American history—and the women (and men) who struggled to make their way in an unforgiving world.”
–Joe Wallace, author of Diamond Ruby

“In Need of a Good Wife is as wonderfully candid as it is epic. Kelly O’Connor McNees creates unforgettable heroines (and anti-heroines), and infuses dreams of the American West with fresh spirit, humor, and yearning. I love this novel so much!”
— Wendy McClure, author of The Wilder Life

“Kelly O’Connor McNees has written a warm, generous story of women who leave everything behind to take a chance on a better life halfway across the country. She combines vivid historical detail with such emotional accuracy that I was convinced I, too, needed to escape post-Civil War Manhattan and make the long journey by train to Destination, Nebraska, where “even the name of the place suggested plenty: Nebraska sounded like basket.” In Need of a Good Wife is a richly drawn portrait of a uniquely American experience; this novel is an absolute treasure.”
— Nancy Woodruff, author of My Wife’s Affair

“In Need of a Good Wife is a thoroughly charming novel, written with a gentle, wry humor and an eye for detail I found delicious. Clara, the gutsy heroine, is delightful, as are a number of the other characters, the good and the bad alike. Beautifully imagined, beautifully crafted: I absolutely loved it.”
— Sandra Gulland, author of Mistress of the Sun

In Need of a Good Wife