Mrs. Kimble by Jennifer Haigh

It’s a strange night.

I’m home alone with a dozen roses in the crystal vase on the coffee table. A pot of Oolong and my mother’s English bone china teacup to my left. Burning tea lights litter the end tables because now it’s fairly dark at 7:30.

I’ve almost forgotten what it’s like to be home alone.

It’s quiet.

It’s so quiet that there’s sort of an empty, waiting feeling inside. A cautious waiting, hoping there isn’t something scary out there in the dark.

I feel almost like one of the Mrs. Kimbles

I found this book on the leaning tower of books at Costco, where one must rummage through all the pulp fiction for something of quality literature. I saw the little circle, first, indicating that Mrs. Kimble had won a Pen/Hemingway award. It was about six dollars, so I threw it in the cart with the salmon and the roses, not dreaming I’d picked up a treasure.

Jennifer Haigh, author of Mrs. Kimble, writes as few young women authors do today. I’m so very tired of the trite novels that one finds in Target’s end caps, the ones lauded as worthy literature, with nothing to say in the end. Nothing to puzzle over. I’m not going to go into titles here; the last time I did that, I’m afraid I offended the author who left a very sweet comment in my comment section and a sickening feeling in my stomach because I don’t want to hurt anyone. Suffice it to say, that this novel IS worthy.

Ken Kimble may be the central character as he weaves in and out of his wives’ and children’s lives. But, really, we become the women in this novel, as we feel what it is like to need, to hope, to trust, and to be totally thrown away. I’m amazed at their strength in some cases, complete lack of strength in others, and the supreme self-centered nature of one man who cares not one whit about anyone but himself.

I’m amazed at the picture that Haigh has drawn for us, which is not without hope, but is certainly the most thought provoking book about families I’ve read this year.

7 thoughts on “Mrs. Kimble by Jennifer Haigh

  1. It sounds like a lovely evening to me. I love those quiet nights when I can curl up with a book. And, yes, it is getting darker earlier, isn't it?!I read Mrs. Kimble back in Jan. 2005. I didn't have a blog yet, but I did write this blurb in my reading journal:Rating: C (3/5 Good) Not a great book, but a winner in the sense that I couldn't put it down. I stayed up far too late at night, anxious to see how it all came together in the end. The narrative revolves around three women who, at separate times over the course of four decades, are married to Ken Kimble, a man whom none of them really know. The tone of the first part of the book reminded me of The Hours, specifically the chapters involving Laura Brown and her son, Richard. Mrs. Kimble evoked strong emotions in me. I went from anger to empathy to confusion to sadness all in the course of a few sentences. I wanted to know what made Ken Kimble tick!I guess you enjoyed it a bit more than I!


  2. Kay, I haven't read any other books by Jennifer Haigh. I'd like to, though; I thought her writing was beautiful. Who knew that you and Les have it/already read it? I should have suspected as much from you good readers!Les, I wish I would have kept a more complete journal than just a list of books I'd read (and that only began a few years ago!). I did like this book because I wanted to know what made Ken Kimble tick, not that I have any answers now. But, a person who appears so slick on the outside may be just an appearance with no substance, and I hate to think of the people out there who are so wrapped up in themselves that they think nothing of the consequences their actions bring to others.


  3. I love surprising treasures! And your evening alone sounds beauitful. I'm not quite sure what to do with myself when I'm home alone, so I usually do housework. 😦 Ha ha! OK, and steal a few minutes of blogging, like I'm doing now. I'll be on the lookout for Mrs. Kimble!


  4. It's funny, Trish, how when I'm surrounded with noise and activity I want to be alone. Then, I get alone, and after awhile it isn't as fun as I'd anticipated. Both my husband and my son finally went to see Batman/Dark Knight, which I wanted to see too, I think, but I let them have a Guys' Night Out. They needed that. After I finished Mrs. Kimble I wasn't sure what to do with myself, but I'm fairly certain I wouldn't have chosen cleaning. That's for today: Labor Day!


  5. What a perfect setting to start a new book! I've had Mrs. Kimble on my shelves for years (yikes). I am glad to hear you enjoyed it and I am looking forward to getting to it one of these days 🙂


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