"Scientists now estimate that only about three to five percent of the approximately 4,000 mammal species on Earth practice any form of monogamy."
-National Science Foundation
As I may have mentioned, BIGAMY is based on an actual case from the 1930’s. Friends of mine brought me copies of newspaper articles that were written at the time—articles that were carried by newspapers coast to coast. My friends thought the story would make a good book, but it took me a while to decide. I did more research on those articles and I began reading about bigamists; the bigamists in the stories I read didn’t match up with my characters.
The actual case I had in hand had nothing to do with religion or any nefarious scheme; it was purely pragmatic. And to be clear: there was no murder in my case, but there are still members of the family unaware of their family's history. The man involved did come over from England and he did work with a choir, but in this case his wife and several of their children came with him. Nonetheless, he was also somewhat charismatic and he did become involved with a young woman in the town, and he did go to jail.
I tried to find a book with something similar to my case, but I found that the books I came across almost exclusively involved a philanderer and wives who were slow to identify his weakness. The books were entertaining, but would probably fall into the romantic or mystery genre, while mine has a historic aspect. Here’s a sample:
· Jennifer Haigh: Mrs. Kimble (2009). An easy read about three very different women, all of whom married the same man, each of whom was unaware of the others. This man was a scoundrel, deserting the first wife, an alcoholic who was left to care for their two children without benefit of child support. The later effect on these children provides an interesting twist.
· Tamar Cohen: War of the Wives (2015). In this one, we see two very different women, each of whom was married to the same man for many years, neither becoming aware until the man’s funeral. How the women deal with this predicament is somewhat expected, but again the real interest is in how their children cope.
· Carolyn Brown: The Barefoot Summer (2017). Here is another case of three women, each married to the same man for varying lengths of time, and none knowing of any other wife, and each planning to inherit the couple’s summer cottage, where they eventually all show up after the man’s death. How they become friends is a bit unrealistic, but it makes for a good “beach read”.
· Jennifer Murphy: I Love You More (2015). This was a 4 star mystery. A man with three wives is murdered. Again, each wife was supposedly unaware of the others, but the daughter of one knows different. It’s a twisted plot that kept me guessing until the end.
· Elin Hilderbrand: Winter in Paradise (2014). When a man dies unexpectedly in a helicopter crash, his wife and two grown sons come to recover his remains on an island they knew nothing about. The discovery of her husband’s fantastic secret life which included a mistress who also died and the daughter they left behind, and how the family copes, is unrealistic, but again a good “beach read”.