November 20, 2011 Leave a comment
I seriously doubt anyone will think that about my blog, but regardless I’m making an attempt to re-gain momentum and start writing again. Ironically, I recently submitted a book review to a local paper and they denied my submission. Perhaps I’ve decided to come back to ‘My Pocket of Change’ so that I can be in control of my writing. That said, I’ve decided to post my book review.
Although I am a voracious reader, it is extremely rare for me to pick a book based on the title, however The Lonely Polygamist by Brady Udall struck a cord and I was captivated by the promise of a story rarely told.
I’m not entirely sure what my fascination is with polygamy, being a feminist and all, but I find it simultaneously intriguing and utterly revolting, and this story was something I couldn’t walk away from.
The story begins with our hero, Golden Richards, secretly building a whorehouse to make ends meet for his family. He has four wives and 28 children, 27 of which are living. Golden’s tale takes us through his depressing childhood with a mother incapable of raising him due to her grief over the absence of her husband, a man known for unfulfilled promises. We watch Golden grow and see his life as one shaped by choices made by those around him.
The Lonely Polygamist gives an intimate portrayal into the lives of each of Golden’s four wives. The first wife tries desperately to hold onto some authority with her regimented and altogether controlling lifestyle. Naturally, the second wife is the opposite of the first, allowing her children to run rampant and the two constantly battle. The third wife is next to negligible for most of the story, making the fourth wife a rare treat as we observe her gradually accept her new life and retire the expectation of finding solace from her past.
Udall takes us on a journey told through the perspective of our hero, his fourth wife and Rusty, an incredibly lovable and altogether hilarious misfit son. Rusty is the boy we can’t help but love with his wildly funny fantasies and wit. We witness his metamorphosis from the family black sheep to the key that ultimately brings the family together.
Golden wrestles with what most people are too afraid to face; uncertainty, fear, pain and doubt. His constant failure to live up to the expectations of his family and community while dealing with the loss of his beloved child strike a chord. The three main characters follow parallel and infrequently intersecting paths as they deal with what life has provided them, both by choice and circumstance. Each perspective gives us a glimpse into loneliness and the power of love.
The story ultimately finds the family coming together like a natural phenomenon with each wife finding importance and establishing territory in their dwindling resources. Through their tragic loss each wife naturally finds her role in bringing the back family together. Udall successfully tells a story of a family that from the surface seems entirely foreign yet becomes relatable and loved through their struggles.