HBO's popular hit series "Big Love" tells the story of a polygamist family. I admit that I had preconceived ideas about this alternative life style and was intrigued when I came upon "The Lonely Polygamist." The author Brady Udall grew up in a large Mormon family, attended Brigham Young University and in an interview stated "polygamy, whether we like it or not, represents a portion of who we are as a country and a culture." Brady himself is not a polygamist but mentioned that he would not be here if his great-great grandfather had not been one.
The book opens with Golden Richards, a man who was raised almost solely by his mother as his father took work wherever he could find it. Eventually Golden's father never returns home. After many years without contact, Golden finds his father in Nevada and travels to see him. It is then that 20-year-old Golden witnesses the polygamist lifestyle firsthand. So begins a tragic tale of Golden's life for the next 25 years. Marrying four wives, he becomes the father to twenty-four children. His business is failing, his wives are unhappy and he suffers one catastrophic event after another. Golden learns firsthand that one of the biggest challenges of raising a family--even a big one--is that it can be a rather lonely experience.
Brady Udall's writing kept me totally interested in this story from start to finish. He adds a great deal of comedy to a tragic story. He took my emotions from tears to laughter and that is what I most crave in a book. There were a lot of characters, but only a few central to the story, and they are particularly intriguing. I especially loved Rusty, one of Golden's sons. No one in the family really cared about Rusty with the exception of his mother, who was a little crazy, and one of the sister wives. He was always in trouble with the #1 wife with whom he was forced to live. Rusty always comments under his breath and his antics kept me laughing until sadly, Rusty becomes the tragedy. I highly recommend this book and suggest checking out the audiobook version which is wonderfully narrated by David Aaron Baker. This is a book I will read again.
Recommended by Pam Wiseman