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Covering a span of twenty five years, Mrs Kimble tells the story of three women married in succession to the same man - a charismatic opportunist named Ken Kimble. Told from the perspective of each Mrs Kimble, it offers a mesmerising look at how three very different women become accomplices in their own deception. We see Ken Kimble through the eyes of the women he seduces: his first wife, Birdie, who struggles to hold herself together in the months following his desertion; his second wife, Joan, a lonely heiress recovering from personal tragedy, who sees in Kimble her last chance at happiness; and finally Dinah, a beautiful but damaged woman half his age. Woven throughout is the story of Kimble's son Charlie, whose life is forever affected by a father he barely remembers. Ken Kimble is able to become, for a while at least, all things to all women. To each of the three Mrs Kimbles, he appears as a hero, to whom powerful needs and nameless longings may be attached. Only later do they glimpse the truth about this elusive, unknowable man. Each Mrs Kimble is of a different generation, with different expectations of men and of themselves - yet each is able to convince herself that Ken Kimble is what is missing from her life, and pledge herself to a man she barely knows. Mrs Kimble is a meditation on marriage and the illusions upon which it is based. Beautifully written, stunningly original, this emotionally compelling novel of marriage and illusion marks the debut of an astonishing new literary voice.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780007150861
ISBN-10: 0007150865
Format: Paperback
(197mm x 130mm x 26mm)
Pages: 400
Imprint: HarperCollins Publishers Ltd
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publish Date: 17-May-2004
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Other Editions


US Kirkus Review » Haigh's perhaps too-carefully orchestrated debut tells the elusive story of one man from the perspectives of the three women he woos, marries, and disappoints. In 1969, Ken Kimble, chaplain at a Virginia college, deserts his wife Birdie and their two small children. Birdie, a southern magnolia without the steel who'd dropped out of Bible college to marry Ken seven years earlier, is unable to cope and slips into alcoholism. Meanwhile, after a stint of hippie-style wandering, Ken ends up in Florida, where he takes up with Joan. Having recently undergone a mastectomy, the 39-year-old career-driven Jewish journalist from New York feels newly vulnerable and lonely. She never questions the vague nature of Ken's past or his claim to have a Jewish mother. After their marriage, Ken enters the real-estate business under the patronage of Joan's uncle, while Joan tries to have a baby despite her doctor's warning that pregnancy could spur a recurrence of cancer. She suffers a miscarriage, then blames herself for a disastrous visit from Ken's children during which workaholic Ken shows minimal interest in them. Soon Ken finds himself a widower. In 1979, now a real-estate tycoon in Washington, D.C., Ken rediscovers Dinah, his children's babysitter back in his Virginia days. An aspiring chef, Dinah, whose sense of self has been marred by facial disfigurement since birth, remembers a moment of genuine kindness she received from Ken during her painful adolescence. After he pays for an operation to remove her birthmark, the much younger Dinah becomes his suddenly beautiful third wife. Fifteen years later, they have a troubled adolescent son and a loveless marriage. But Dinah is stronger than Ken's previous two wives. She not only survives and prospers after his final disappearing act, but provides solace for all three of his troubled children. The measured prose and care for detail show a promising talent, but the overscripted characters' lives feel more literary than lived. (Kirkus Reviews)

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Author Biography - Jennifer Haigh

Jennifer Haigh's short stories have been published in Good Housekeeping and numerous literary reviews. She is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop. Mrs Kimble is her first novel.

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