Monday, July 19, 2010

Review: Hidden Wives by Claire Avery

Book: Hidden Wives by Claire Avery
Genre: Literary Fiction
Rating: A-
For: TLC Book Tour
From: The publisher for blog tour review

I'm a little nervous about reviewing this book because I have mixed emotions! So, how about I jump right and tell it how it is....

First all I think it will help to separate out the subject from the story. The story is about two sisters whose father is a polygamist, and they have been raised to believe they will most likely be married to a man with several wives already. As the book begins, they are both meeting with the prophet of their church to see who he thinks those husbands will be. The answer is not surprising for one sister, though still devastating to her. But the other sister has a problem since several men want her to wife.

And so the conflict begins. Not only must they deal with who they will marry, but what happens if they fall in love with a nice young man, who does not already have wives and who is not of their faith? What happens if they want to go to school and learn and read? What happens if they start to doubt everything they've ever been taught? What happens if their dad is a monster?

Wow, the story is gripping and heart wrenching. Once I started reading it, I couldn't put it down. I became tied up in the lives of these sisters instantly. The things they had to suffer are unimaginable. Yet the strength of their spirits and their overall fortitude is truly inspiring.

Now for the subject, polygamy, not a fun thing to read, talk or think about. Yet it happens. The stuff in this book I'm sure, is not very far from the truth. But the thing I get nervous and upset about every time I read about this subject is how it ends up being a Mormon issue. It was a Mormon issue over a hundred years ago, but now, it's not. People forget that. People still think of polygamy and Mormons as one and it makes me crazy. At first, I was excited when this book made sure to clarify that those practicing polygamy today are not main stream Mormons, but Fundamentalists, as they are called. However, as the book went on, it seemed to forget that distinction and still referred to them as Mormons.  (I don't know, maybe they still think of themselves that way or something?) Anyway, I wish people could understand the difference, and I wish books wouldn't confuse the issue further.

Also, there was some discussion in this book about religious ordinances that made me quite squirmy because they were treated so lightly and made to look so ridiculous. And I don't know really why that was in there in the first place because it didn't really have much to do with the story itself, so it just felt all wrong.

Anyway, so there's the mixed emotions! Loved the story, but cringed at the Mormon references. But frankly, I expected that. It happens with any story about polygamy.

Bottom line: I loved... most of it!

For more an author Claire Avery (who is actually a sister writing team) here's the website.

For more TLC reviews on this book, head on over here to see this list.


  1. This does sound like a fascinating book! And I am also confused as to why Americans still associate polygamy with mainstream Mormanism.

    I will add this to the list (perhaps I should plan to read this and the 19th Wife, a book sitting on my shelves, at the same time and make it a theme weekend)

  2. Suey, I'm glad to hear your thoughts on this book. I have it loaded on my Kindle and am planning on reading it while I'm on vacation. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Suey, I can see why the religious aspects would be squirm-worthy for you, but I'm really happy that you enjoyed the book so much! Thanks for being on the tour.

  4. I'm curious -- what is up with the upswing in polygamist-genre fiction??

  5. The confusion with LDS vs FLDS and what not would be the main reason I avoid these books!

    I've been wondering why so many of them lately too!

  6. I've been seeing this one all over the book blogosphere, but somehow missed the fact that it was about polygamy. Interesting. I definitely have a love/hate relationship with these kinds of books. Not sure whether I'll pick this one up or not ...



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