The Rebel Wife

Taylor Polites, Author
Taylor M. Polites. Simon & Schuster, $25 (304p) ISBN 978-1-4516-2951-4
Reviewed on: 11/14/2011
Release date: 02/07/2012
Downloadable Audio - 978-1-4640-0630-2
Hardcover - 485 pages - 978-1-4104-4917-7
Paperback - 294 pages - 978-1-4516-2952-1
Open Ebook - 256 pages - 978-1-4516-2953-8
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Polites’s debut offers a richly detailed portrait of Reconstruction-era South Carolina. Shortly after the Civil War ends, Augusta marries Eli Branson, a much older businessman (and suspected Yankee sympathizer) whose fortunes could help support her struggling family. Ten years later, Eli’s sudden, gruesome death sends Augusta and her household into a tailspin. Though she expects to inherit a vast fortune from Eli, her knowledge of his business dealings is spotty, and her family attorney says that her husband’s assets aren’t nearly as extensive as she’d thought. After Augusta learns that Eli was carrying a large sum of money when he fell ill, she realizes that finding the money may be the only way to support herself and her young son. As the blood fever that killed Eli begins to spread through the town and postwar racial tensions flare, her search for the missing money becomes more frantic. But before she finds it, she must confront evidence of her husband’s complicated past and secrets that color her relationship with her family and friends. After a nimble, engrossing first chapter, Polites loses momentum, but he eventually builds to a vivid climax. The novel’s well-rendered setting and complex characters easily make up for a few slow passages. Agent: Keating Literary. (Feb.)
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