Saturday, January 29, 2011

I now pronounce you husband and wife...and wife...and wife...and wife

I can say with a lot of certainty that until a few weeks ago, I knew nothing about the polygamist lifestyle beyond the salacious details reported with arrests of characters such as Warren Jeffs.  I have enough trouble managing my own small family of four that I can't comprehend the complexities involved with dozens of children and multiple spouses (my mind recoils at the idea of trying to make a meal that would please everyone...).  My library basket was so full that I couldn't handle another book, let alone another spouse.  But, I'd read such good reviews of The Lonely Polygamist by Brady Udall that I decided that if the main character could handle another wife, I could handle another book.

This book was so comprehensive, multi-faceted, and multi-layered in its treatment of a polygamist family that I made the reader's attribution error: It was so engrossing that began to wonder if Udall had a history of ties to a polygamist sect himself (turns out his great-great-grandfather was, in fact, polygamist, and Udall is around because of that).  Rather than treating the characters as one-dimensional caricatures, Udall presents a complex, nuanced set of characters in the patriarch of this family, Golden; his fourth wife, Trisha; and Rusty, one of his 28 children.

This is an interesting novel of a desperate search for human connection, affection, and attention, even and especially amidst many, many family members.  It's definitely a recommended read. 

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