Monday, July 4, 2011

Review: Daughter of the Saints by Dorothy Allred Solomon.

Reviewed by Ingrid

Published: 2003

It's about: Dorothy Allred Solomon was born as the 28th child to her father's fourth plural wife. She tells stories from her family history, her father's history, and her own experiences as a child, adolescent, and adult. Solomon felt deeply troubled by the dishonesty and secrecy that was necessary to maintain a polygamous lifestyle, especially in the mid 19th century in the Salt Lake Valley. Solomon eventually chose to break from her fundamentalist group, though she stayed close to many of her family members. Solomon still feels a deep connection to her family and her history. Writing her memoirs seemed to be a way of healing or coming to terms with her regrets and inner struggles.

I thought: Finally, a great memoir about polygamy! Daughter of the Saints was incredibly well written and multi-faceted. Like I said above, Solomon feels BOTH a deep love and connection to her family, yet feels deeply disturbed by many aspects of their polygamous lifestyle. This is what makes this memoir stand apart. Most memoirs about polygamy, and even some fiction, are one sided and written in a resentful tone. This book dove deep into the subject from a very personal point of view, which made it so much more emotionally resonant. Solomon knows how to bring the reader into her story and show them how she really felt, instead of just trying to make us feel bad for her.

This book blows Hidden Wives out of the water. I even liked it better than The Lonely Polygamist. Because this one was a memoir and not fiction like the other two, it obviously has a different feel to it. When it comes to polygamy, I think that the non-fictional genre of the memoir has the opportunity to be much more poignant, since many of us can't relate to this subject, to have a narrator telling us about her experiences in both worlds can have a much stronger effect than a fictional account.

I think that Solomon did a wonderful job organizing her memoirs into anecdotes that flowed well together. Her story was bizarre and fascinating in ways I both expected and didn't expect. Loved this book so much.

Verdict: Stick it on the shelf 

Reading Recommendations: If you want a truly great memoir about polygamy, this is the one. I know there are a lot of you out there that are also fascinated by this subject. Buy this book NOW. In fact, here's a link to it on Amazon.

Warnings: Some reference to sexual abuse, but nothing graphic.

Favorite excerpts: "I find myself wishing for a shaman like my father to define the world and bring us back together, although I know about life's uncompromising demand that we find our own way. In those times when the predator stalks gentle things, I yearn for that crowded, sturdy nest that was home. And I'm stunned to realize that a few fragile words can carry me back to the place and the people I love."

What I'm reading next: Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks. I couldn't resist after reading Christina's review!