In the tradition of The Poisonwood Bible comes a novel set in the rainforest of Ecuador about five women left behind when their missionary husbands are killed. Based on shocking real-life events.

It was the 1950’s, the war was over, and pacifists like Olive’s husband sat it out. Then the men hear stories of an Amazonian people who have never had peaceful contact with the outside world, and start to dream up their own adventure: they’ll be the first to evangelize “the Auca.”

Olive is an uncertain newlywed. Marj has three tiny children. Betty is a devout intellectual, Marilou a beautiful young musician who loves the rainforest people. And Rachel is an outsider, craving a place in the inner circle. When things spiral out of control, you have to ask—how complicit are they?

Five Wives is a compelling story about living in an ideological bubble: the magical thinking, the personal bargains, and the devastating consequences of clinging to mythologies at odds with the real world.

Five Wives is published by HarperCollins Canada and will be in stores September 3, 2019.

“To take a true, shocking story and tell it from the inside, without judgment or theatrics but with an unwavering respect for the facts and a generosity of imagination that is the hallmark of great storytelling, is no small feat. Thomas has more than risen to the challenge. This is a brave, important, utterly absorbing novel.”  – Barbara Gowdy, author of Little Sister

“What a wonderful book! Joan Thomas takes us deep into Operation Auca and into the wild jungle of her characters’ hearts. This gorgeous, nuanced retelling offers up historical events in a new light and forces us to ask difficult and timely questions about colonialism, indigeneity, and faith.” – Alison Pick, author of Strangers with the Same Dream.

“Joan Thomas is like an explorer who has gone out to discover the missionary tribe, and then returned as witness to its fallibility. Thomas does not preach, nor does she judge. What amazes most is how, through a deft sleight of hand and deep compassion, the author turns the idea of salvation upside down and exposes the invader. A beauty of a story.” – David Bergen, author of Stranger.

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