Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Lonely Polygamist by Brady Udall

Reviewed by Ingrid

Published: 2010

It's about: Golden Richards is a Mormon fundamentalist living in southern Utah in the 1970s. Completely overwhelmed by his family life, consisting of 4 constantly bickering wives and 28 out of control children, Golden escapes by spending as much time of possible in Nevada at his construction project ... which his wives believe is a senior center, though it is actually a brothel. While in Nevada, Golden develops a little crush on an attractive young stranger named Huila, who turns out to be the wife of his boss. But, Golden soon finds that keeping secrets from his wives is not all that easy, because as soon as he is gone they confer with each other and compare versions of his excuses.
The narrative also follows Golden's fourth and youngest wife, Trish, and his wild, attention-seeking son Rusty.

I thought: I loved this book. All of the characters were endearing as well as emotionally complex, each one loveable in their own way. Udall's writing has its own particular humor, which made the story fun and engaging to read.
Overall, I loved how this book highlights the particular importance of family love and how an ultimately tragic situation can bring out of Goldon and his wives a deep familial love. This was definitely one of the most satisfying books I've read in a long time.

Verdict: Definitely stick this one on the shelf.

Reading Recommendations: Take your time reading and enjoying this book. Great for the beach or long plane rides.

Warnings: There is an f-word every few pages, and many sexual situations are described but not explicitly.

Favorite excerpts: "Something rose in him, some echo or vibration, and before he realized what he was doing he was already mumbling under his breath, his old habitual chant, EmmaNephiHelamanNaomiJosephinePaulineParleySybilDeeanne . . . and as the names made their way past his lips he felt, as if for the first time, the peculiar shape of each one, their particular syllables attended in his mind by some token to whom each name belonged, a dragonfly barrette, a smile full of missing teeth, a pair of orthopedic shoes, the dusty scent of sun-warmed hair, a nightmare cry from down the hall, an infant's tart breath, and here they came, his children, one after the other--not as hopelessly long and tangled strand of DNA nonsense-letters, or as a single, pulsing organism (as he had come to think of them lately), ever growing and demanding to be fed, but as individual bodies and faces appearing behind the glass window and screens of front doors, waiting, eyes bright, wondering where he was, what was taking him so long to come home."