Mrs. Kimble

Winner of the 2004 PEN/Hemingway Award for debut fiction

Ken Kimble is revealed through the eyes of the women he seduces: his first wife, Birdie, who struggles to hold herself together following his desertion; his second wife, Joan, a lonely heiress shaken by personal tragedy, who sees in Kimble her last chance at happiness; and finally Dinah, a beautiful but damaged woman half his age. Woven throughout is the story of Kimble’s son, Charlie, whose life is forever affected by the father he barely remembers. Kimble is a chameleon, a man able to become, at least for a while, all things to all women — a hero to whom powerful needs and nameless longings may be attached. Only later do they glimpse the truth about this enigmatic, unknowable man.

Praise for Mrs. Kimble

It’s rare that a novelist offers both page-turning linear momentum and graceful stylistic arabesques. Jennifer Haigh gives her readers both in Mrs. Kimble, the tale of three complex women and shrewd, cold-blooded Ken Kimble, who married them all in the course of four decades. This book is notable not merely because of Haigh’s rich characterizations and the deft maturity with which she explores love; it is also an insightful social history, tracing both the role of women and the place of marriage in the second half of the twentieth century. Elegantly structured, rich with wisdom and surprise, here is a truly remarkable first novel.
— Judges’ citation, 2004 PEN/Hemingway Award