In her masterful first novel, Mrs. Kimble, Jennifer Haigh delivers the compelling story of three women who marry the same man, an enigmatic opportunist named Ken Kimble. Birdie. 1961.
He was the choir director at a Southern Bible college. At practice she followed his hands with her eyes. She imagined his shoulders bare beneath his shirt, his body long and white. One evening he approached her.
She met him at a pool party in Florida. His lank dark hair hung to his shoulders; he wore faded jeans and a colorful cotton blouse. No man had touched her in a year. He was engaged to someone else.
They met by accident in Washington, D.C. Their paths had intersected once before, when she was a teenager. "You're a beautiful girl," he'd told her, oblivious to the hideous scar on her face. He was old enough to be her father.
Kimble is revealed through the eyes of the women he seduces: his first wife, who struggles to hold herself together after his desertion; his second wife, a lonely heiress shaken by personal tragedy, who sees in Kimble her last chance at happiness; and finally Dinah Whitacre, a beautiful but damaged woman half his age. Woven throughout is the story of Kimble's son, Charlie, whose life is forever affected by a father he barely remembers. Ken Kimble is a chameleon, a man able to become, at least for a while, all things to all women. To each of the three Mrs. Kimbles, he appears as a hero to whom powerful needs and nameless longings may be attached. Only later do they glimpse the truth about this elusive, unknowable man.
A captivating exploration of human love, marriage, and the illusions upon which it is founded, Mrs. Kimble presents a fascinating psychological portrait of a mesmerizing opportunist and the women who believe in him. Beautifully wrought, stunningly original, Jennifer Haigh's sparkling debut marks the arrival of a remarkable new talent.
©2003 Jennifer Haigh; (P)2003 HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.