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The Second Mrs. Hockady

     by Rivers, Susan

The Second Mrs. Hockady

Major Gryffth Hockaday meets Placidia one night after she has been out riding. Within two days 32-year old Gryf, recently widowed, and Placidia, almost half his age, are married and arrive at his 300-acre farm and meet his infant son Charlie, who is being cared for by a slave. Although he had been granted a week’s extension on his furlough, he receives word on their second day together that he has been recalled to the front line. And so begins Placidia’s life in charge of the farm and raising Charlie. Major Hockaday is gone for nearly 2 years and when he arrives home he hears that his wife had given birth to a child more than a year after he left and that she has been accused of killing the child. Placidia refuses to tell him what happened and he files a complaint that leads to an inquest. Through letters between Placidia and her best friend Millie and later letters from Charlie and others, what transpired is revealed.  

Placidia and Major Hockaday are fictional but they are inspired by the true story of Elizabeth Kennedy, whose illegitmate child was born and died while her husband was off fighting in the Civil War for four years, and the inquest that followed. The research the author did into the time period is evident in this story that relates the trials and tribulations women endured on Southern farms during the Civil War. The reader gets to know Placidia intimately through her letters and is compelled to read on and find out what happens to her and Major Hockaday.

Reviewed by CO, 01/17. Other reviews by CO.