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Falling in Love with Joseph Smith: My Search for the Real Prophet Hardcover – August 16, 2012
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--Sara Miles, author of Take This Bread and Jesus Freak
"This is a balanced and intensely personal biography of Smith, as well as an arresting memoir of a spiritual leader."
“This is a book about faith and irony, but don't let the title fool you. Hold on to your hats, because you're going to be falling in love with Joseph Smith, too!”
--Dennis Covington, author of the National Book Award finalist Salvation on Sand Mountain
“Jane Barnes offers a rollicking, visionary, and deeply personal exploration of the magnetic legacy of Joseph Smith and what his story can teach us about our own deeply American hunger for transcendence. In a moment when many Americans are realizing how little they know about Mormonism, Barnes shows us what non-Mormons can and should love about this uniquely American faith tradition.”
--Joanna Brooks, author of The Book of Mormon Girl, associate professor, Department of English and Comparative Literature,
San Diego State University
“Jane Barnes’ fascination with Joseph Smith is an inward journey, an account of one person's attempt to articulate and to answer difficult questions about the mysterious Joseph, a man who puzzles and eludes her. Falling in Love with Joseph Smith made me think of one of my favorite hybrid books, Annie Dillard's For the Time Being.”
--Ann Beattie, PEN/Malamud award-winning author, professor of Literature and Creative Writing, University of Virginia
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Top Customer Reviews
I've read many books about Smith over the years. Brodie's was the first to cause me to connect with Smith on a human level. Barnes was the first to emulate my own experience (the experience of connecting), even through we found out about Smith in very different ways and have a different history (Barnes never joined a Mormon sect, whereas I was LDS for thirty years, and Reform Mormon for the past ten.)
Anyone who admires Smith (but doesn't put him on a pedestal) is going to love this book. Smith has always been an interesting subject to historians, but much more so in the past fifty years. This book recounts enough history about Smith to give you the story of his life, but centers more on the impact this charismatic genius still has on people today by illustrating how one can find Smith fascinating while not finding his modern church to be palatable. Barnes is not LDS, and this books tells how she tried to become LDS, but couldn't. Regardless, her admiration for Smith is evident.
In telling her own experience with Smith, she illustrates how a person can have a love for Smith's history without becoming a modern convert. This is an interesting testament to Smith's enduring attraction. The book is human, and full of moments anyone can relate to. It's also funny and endearing. Of the many books I've read about Joseph Smith, this one stands alone as the most poignant identifier of the human interaction with his history. I recommend it highly!
Pretty disappointing, with no real information. It was more of a memoir of this woman's life as she came to terms with her lesbianism by embracing the founder of a religion that rallies against gays.
Delightful read: Jane Barnes talks about her own spiritual walk and life and that of Joseph Smith, Jr., the Mormon prophet. Growing up in a WASPy community that was predominantly Episcopalian, it seems that Jane had spiritual longings that others in her community did not understand. Through Jane and Helen Whitney discovering Joseph Smith through Fawn Brodie's biography NO MAN KNOWS MY HISTORY, the two set to do a documentary for Frontline/American Experience about the Mormon faith. This begins a path of studying the American prophet and his Book of Mormon that would start both a love affair and a conversion. However, due to a rejection of the Atonement of Christ and the LDS Church's unwillingness to accept Joseph's irreverence, Jane decides not to join the LDS Church. Later, while talking to a Mormon Fundamentalist family, Jane finds others and see this prophet the way she does. Out of all of the spiritual journey memoirs I have read, I relate most to Jane's own experience. I too admire the prophet Joseph and his works. I also appreciate the fact that Jane acknowledges the problems the LDS Church tends to brush under the rug (Nauvoo polygamy, no historical veracity to the Book of Mormon or Book of Abraham). Basically, we would be part of the same church.... if it existed.
Difficult book to market: This would be a very difficult book to market. Most of the spiritual memoirs involves a westerner in a state of existential crisis taking a pilgrimage to India to discover themselves through meditation and Eastern mysticism (On a Razor's Edge/ Eat, Pray, Love).Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
If you're interested in the varieties of religious experience, not to mention the human condition, this book is worth reading. Read morePublished on January 17, 2013 by Dave Werman
Very self-centered book. Thought the author didn't know who she was trying to become by the end of the book. Don't waste your time reading this bookPublished on January 11, 2013 by E. Barry
Jane Barnes has written a unique memoir, I couldn't put it down. This is a profound inquiry into the mystery of faith. Read morePublished on December 18, 2012 by Lesley
Barnes' light romp through the inconsistencies and inspirations of the founder of the Mormons adds humor and genuine appreciation to the history of this group.Published on November 18, 2012 by Shady reader
Being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (aka Mormon)this book caught my attention and I bought it. Okay, okay, I'm vulnerable. It was an impulse buy. Read morePublished on September 13, 2012 by Richard C. Bingham