Thursday, May 01, 2008

[Book Review] MRS. KIMBLE by Jennifer Haigh


Andrea Bledsoe reviews MRS. KIMBLE by Jennifer Haigh (Morrow Books, 2003)

The story of the outrageous Ken Kimble is told mainly from the point of view of Charlie, his abandoned son. We first meet Charlie at age six. He barely remembers his father but, unfortunately, is living with the tragic aftermath of Ken’s abrupt departure.

Confused about exactly why the "Reverend" Ken Kimble decided to leave his wife of only six years and their young children, Charlie grapples with being the man of the house. Taking care of his young mother, Birdie, and his three-year-old sister, Jody, Charlie seems so desperate for attention and affection.

There are three parts to this novel. Each section tells about Ken Kimble and how he conned each of his three wives, Birdie, Joan, and Dinah. Each time he abruptly leaves, he seeks a younger, more attractive woman, even though he is, of course, getting older and more callous in personality. Adapting to each woman’s lifestyle, Kimble cons his way into their hearts. Given no real background information on Kimble or his family (except for the fabrications he told), readers will be at a lost as to why he is such a cruel person.

I found Ken Kimble one of the most incorrigible characters I have ever read about. I felt nothing but sympathy for the women and children he left as victims. When I read this book, I felt an entire range of emotions. Part of me wanted to chuck the book across the room because of the anger Kimble erupted inside of me, but yet, I cried on behalf of the children and women he neglected. As much as I detested Kimble, I could not put down the book at night. (In fact, I finished the book in two nights!) This is a sad and powerful novel that may remind readers of the old adage, "If it seems too good to be true, it probably is." I'd recommend it mostly to my female friends as a caution. The author is a very gifted storyteller who evokes strong emotions.

Andrea Bledsoe, Poplar-White Station Branch Library


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