Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Book Review Guest Post -- The Lonely Polygamist

The Lonely Polygamist
The Lonely Polygamist by Brady Udall

Guest Post by Daisy Dad

Daisy Dad's Enjoyment Rating:  3.5 out of 5 stars

Source: Personal Copy

Sensitive reader:  language, sexual innuendo, infidelity


I am going to let the cat out of the bag.  We are Mormon.  Not your standard run of the mill Utah Mormons, but those rare, often misunderstood LIBERAL Mormons.  (You thought I was going to say Polygamists didn’t you?)  Liberal Mormons are a somewhat rare breed in the Church – many would say oxymoronic - and to find two that are actually married to one another is even rarer.  But we are, and are proud of it.  So when I read a review in Entertainment Weekly about a year ago on Brady Udall’s The Lonely Polygamist, I immediately wanted to read it (Yes – I do not move through my reading list as quickly as Daisy Mom).  Other less liberal Mormons would avoid such a book, based on the ever vigilant pursuit of LDS members to remove the stigma of Polygamy – something the mainstream LDS church hasn’t practiced in over a Century.  I, on the other hand, love entertainment that most mainstream Mormons would shun – I loved HBO’s Big Love and can’t wait to see Book of Mormon, The Musical on my next visit to NYC.  Call me what you want – things like these shows, books and TV do not bother me – in fact probably just the opposite – they reconfirm to me the Truth as I see it and feel it in my choice of Religious faith.  So does Brady Udall make me want run out and find me a few more wives, have a bunch more kids and live The Principle?  Well…


The Lonely Polygamist is an aptly named book about Golden Richards, his four wives, and his pursuit of religious perfection, economic stability, familiar peace and personal sanity all within the realm of today’s imperfect, unstable and chaotic world while adding the backdrop of a western wasteland savaged by mid-twentieth century nuclear testing.  Sounds complicated.  Well for poor Golden, who finds himself in a religious sect that his Father stumbled into after abandoning Golden and his mother on his own pursuit of all those same things,  is debilitated by insecurities, hang-ups, and morals, both self created and Church created that seem to get the best of him.  Udall tells an interesting tale of Golden and his family, both past and present – that allows the reader to form their own opinion about his family’s beliefs.  The book is fairly non-judgmental of this always misunderstood religious belief, and does his best not to bash this (misguided - my opinion-) religious Principle, or the root of it being The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.


Though the story is centered on Golden, I was drawn into some of the other characters that Udall created, specifically The Wives.  Though I wish there was a bit more on a couple of them (Nola and Rose-of-Sharon), Beverly, Golden’s first Wife and Trish, Golden’s fourth wife, are my favorites.  Each in her own way is The Lonely Polygamist, even more so than Golden.  Beverly – wanting to cleave to The Principle with a zealot’s devotion in order to save her soul and to drag the other souls in her family kicking and screaming into the eternities with her and Trish – wanting to be a part of a family that could offer her the bonds and love that she so desired, but actually unable to find in the Richards clan.  But the story of one of the “plyg” kids was my favorite.  Poor misunderstood Rusty.  A boy too identifiable even in a “normal’ family that even with a father, four mothers and dozens of siblings still ends up on the outside looking in.  Though I would have liked to have even just a few more pages of other family members or more flushed out information on the other wives, I felt the loneliness in each of these characters – not only Golden.


I applaud Mr. Udall for weaving the tale of The Lonely Polygamist that even this “mainstream”, “liberal” Mormon with only one wife thoroughly enjoyed.

(Daisy Mom would like to add:  even though I haven't read this book, I'm still wondering WHY Mr. Udall would name his main character after a 1970's BYU and Dallas Cowboys football player?)