Thirty-five-year-old folklorist and amateur martial artist Bess Gray is a single woman living in Washington, D.C. who falls in love with Rory, a charming Irish musician with a secret. When Rory asks her to marry him, Bess, who had nearly given up hope of marrying at all, is horrified to find that he has eight ex-wives. She sets out on a cross-country journey with the intention, unbeknownst to Rory, of seeking them out. In alternating chapters, Rory ruminates about each of his ex-wives and how he became a serial spouse.
Along for the ride are Bess’s grandparents who’ve been married 65 years and fight constantly, her gay neighbor (himself an utter mystery), a Shar-Pei named Stella, and a mannequin named Peace. Will Bess say yes to Rory? Would a sane woman really consider becoming any man’s ninth wife?
Stolls perfectly captures the voices of Bess and Rory. Bess is hoping to have something more in her life while Rory is a hopeless romantic. They couldn’t meet at a better time in their lives.
The chapters about Rory’s wives demonstrate how seriously he takes marriage. Every marriage could’ve been reduced down to a line or two to sum up why it didn’t work out.
Parallel to the main romance is Bess’s grandparents who have been married a long time. Their tale shows that sometimes, even if your marriage is a long lasting one, there are problems under the surface.
If you’re a romantic then you’ll like this book. If you’re a cynic then you may want to read something else.