by Madison Jones
University of Alabama Press, 2003
Paper: 978-0-8173-5014-7 | Cloth: 978-0-8173-1298-5
Library of Congress Classification PS3560.O517H47 2003
Dewey Decimal Classification 813.54


A timely new novel evocative of the biblical story of the beheading of John the Baptist by a major American writer.

Hugh Helton, a prosperous attorney in a progressive town, has married his brother's ex-wife, Nora. As Hugh negotiates his relationships with his new spouse, her daughter, Jean, and parish priest Father John Riley, Nora’s growing hate for the church into which they were all born and from which they have all lapsed drives her to desperate acts of deceit and manipulation.

Father Riley himself wrestles with his own sense of purpose and mission. But when Nora attempts to discredit him as an authority figure in the minds of both her husband and their community, she uses her devoted daughter as the springboard for a series of accusations against the priest that has catastrophic results for all involved.

Grappling with issues of faith, trust, family loyalty, child molestation, and scandal in the Catholic Church, Herod’s Wife is a timely exploration of subjects from today's headlines. It illuminates the isolation and search for meaning of characters young and old, innocent and experienced, in a rapidly changing and bewildering southern landscape. Madison Smartt Bell, author of All Soul's Rising, writes, “The main plot revolves around a mother pressuring a child to express her will in a more concrete way than she would or could herself—so that the child ultimately commits acts which are both criminal and morally horrifying. . . . [Herod’s Wife] is a morality play set in contemporary conditions, with its eye on eternal verities.”

Madison Jones is the author of 10 previous novels, including An Exile and A Cry of Absence. He has won the T. S. Eliot Award from the Ingersoll Foundation, the Michael Shaara Award from the United States Civil War Center, and the Harper Lee Award.

See other books on: Fiction | Novel | Southern States
See other titles from University of Alabama Press