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September 08 , 2009

A More Obedient Wife, a Novel of the Early Supreme Court


Inspired by a treasure trove of 200-year-old letters, A More Obedient Wife traces the intertwined stories of two real women from the 1790s. Hannah Gray is just nineteen when she meets the distinguished—and apparently wealthy—Supreme Court Justice James Wilson, a 51-year-old widower with six children. Marrying him after an acquaintance of only ten days, Hannah soon discovers that her new husband is not all that he appears: Wilson is thrown into debtors’ prison while still a sitting Supreme Court Justice, causing a major scandal. Meanwhile, another Hannah, married to Wilson’s Supreme Court colleague James Iredell, suffers from debilitating shyness.

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Torn from her cozy hometown of Edenton, N.C., and set down in the nation’s capital of Philadelphia, Hannah Iredell struggles valiantly to find her place in the courtly society of the new republic, all while caring for three young children and an alcoholic mother-in-law. Her charming and gregarious husband, who is known to have a roving eye, is frustrated by her inability to maneuver gracefully through the levees and dinners she is required to attend. When Hannah Iredell notices that her husband has developed a fondness for the young and coquettish Mrs. Wilson, she fears the worst.

Weaving excerpts from over 200 real documents and letters with fictional diary entries in the voices of its two main characters, this award-winning novel has been described by reviewers as “superb,” “gripping,” “compelling,” and “definitely one not to be missed.”

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