The Second Mrs. Hockaday (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

This is a civil war novel told through letters, diary entries, and court documents written in period language.  Placidia Fincher meets Major Hockaday, a widower with an infant son, at a wedding when she is 17 years old. He is immediately smitten and asks her father for her hand. The couple spends a brief but passionate time together after they are married, but the major must return to his regiment. They don’t see each other for several years. When the major returns home, he hears the appalling news that his beloved wife has given birth to a baby and then murdered it. This fascinating story is inspired by a true incident, and will have you racing through the pages to learn what really happened.


— Sharon K. Nagel

January 2017 Indie Next List

“When Major Gryffth Hockaday returns home after years fighting in the Civil War, he discovers that his wife had given birth to a child who later died, both events occurring under mysterious circumstances. Knowing he cannot be the father of the child, he has murder charges brought against his wife. The trial and the story of what happened unfold through letters and diary entries written by Placidia Hockaday and other family members, culminating in a shocking truth. Inspired by actual events, the characters and story that Rivers has created are truly memorable and The Second Mrs. Hockaday is a unique and fascinating read.”
— Sherri Gallentine (W), Vroman's Bookstore, Pasadena, CA


When Major Gryffth Hockaday is called to the front lines of the Civil War, his new bride is left to care for her husband's three-hundred-acre farm and infant son. Placidia, a mere teenager herself living far from her family and completely unprepared to run a farm or raise a child, must endure the darkest days of the war on her own. By the time Major Hockaday returns two years later, Placidia is bound for jail, accused of having borne a child in his absence and murdering it. What really transpired in the two years he was away?

A love story, a story of racial divide, and a story of the South as it fell in the war, The Second Mrs. Hockaday reveals how this generation--and the next--began to see their world anew.

About the Author

Susan Rivers was awarded the Julie Harris Playwriting Award for Overnight Lows and the New York Drama League Award for Under Statements. She is also the recipient of two playwriting grants from the National Endowment for the Arts. She holds an MFA in fiction writing and lives in South Carolina. The Second Mrs. Hockaday is her first novel. Find her online at
Product Details
ISBN: 9781616207366
ISBN-10: 1616207361
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Publication Date: November 14th, 2017
Pages: 288
Language: English