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The Lonely Polygamist: A Novel Hardcover – May 3, 2010
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Top Customer Reviews
The story is primarily about Golden Richards, a polygamist with four wives and approximately 28 kids. The logistical difficulties inherent in this lifestyle are made very clear early on. You get a real sense that Golden will be facing some problems, and indeed he does. The second major focus of the book is one of his sons, Rusty, who is also coping with being a "plyg" kid in the best way he knows how. The beginning of the book was sharp and focused and nicely paced. But the middle seemed to just be a series of roadblocks with no resolution or gratification for the reader. It was almost as if the author was saying to himself, "what can I do next to torture this guy some more?". The plot seemed to be just stuck in a rut at that point.
I'm kind of ambivalent about the book. It had some wonderful reviews and there were certainly parts of the book that got me thinking that this was some really fine writing. But after thinking about the book for a few days, I'm not feeling like it's one to strongly recommend, unless for those with a strong interest in the subject matter.
I'm not fully willing to go with that "Great American Novel" review quoted above in the amazon description. Udall certainly is willing to tackle big issues and write a broad tale, and it is a good read. There's maybe just a little edge that is missing. As if things are a touch too neat and tidy, and maybe there's been a little extra sugar on the bitter pills. It's a minor quibble, and you should definitely read the book!
Constantly fleeing and hiding from the demands and power plays of his wives and a melee of kids in three different houses, fighting to revive his failing construction business, deeply wounded by grief and guilt over the accidental death of a daughter and the still-birth of a son, he finds himself attracted to another woman who clearly needs help and attention but is precisely the wrong person for him to be seeing.
Apart from Golden, the narrative most often inhabits the minds of Rusty, a troubled 11-year-old lost in the pack, and Trish, the fourth and youngest wife. We get plenty of back stories along the way: the origins of Golden's father Royal, the courtship of his first wife Beverly, critical past moments in the history of this odd, sprawling family.
There are also wonderful miniature portraits -- of the true power brokers and go-getters in the local Mormon community, other polygamists like Ervil LeBaron who give the church a bad name, unattached mothers hoping to become Golden's fifth spouse, the odd books that characters read in hiding (from the romance novel, To Love a Scoundrel, to How to Derail a Train With Common Household Items), and the sweetest and wisest sheriff you could imagine.
The book reads easily, with much humor and occasional stabbing sorrow.Read more ›
My first bone of contention is with Golden Richards, who, as a character, is so ignorant as to be almost mentally challenged. He's a hulking brute with no education who just stumbles through the mess of disgruntled wives and rampantly rambunctious children he's tied to. This is a man who spends weeks with gum in his pubic hair, seemingly unable to figure out a way to remove it. While this episode is initially funny, it just becomes pathetic. When Golden is tempted to begin an affair that would destroy his family forever, he stumbles toward it just as he hulks into every other decision, fumbling and unthinking.
There are some good things to consider here as well, though. Udall gives us three narrators in this tale, and I enjoyed having other viewpoints from Golden's. We also hear from the fourth and youngest wife, Trish, and one of Golden's kids, 11-year-old Rusty, "the family terrorist." Trish's backstory and present view of her situation and the whole Richards' family situation are evidence that at least the women in this book know what's what. Trish isn't one to let the other wives run roughshod over her, but she also depends on them for many things, especially incorporating her introverted daughter from a previous marriage into the household.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Beautiful, thought-provoking novel about a group of very lonely people. Brady Udall weaves a most unusual collection of people through a most unusual collection of circumstances. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Becky from Sierra Vista
Golden, the main character in this novel, is so easy to dislike. For starters, he's married to four different women, none of whom he seems to love, and he has so many kids that he... Read morePublished 8 months ago by CC Thomas
I bought this book based on some of the glowing reviews I'd read of it, but I was disappointed. It's about 200 page too long. It's a slow, tedious book to read. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Diana
Argh, this book was or rather still is a chore not a pleasure. I am still trying to read it because it is a book club choice.Published 13 months ago by R. Volcheff
Strange work of fiction, but i did like it... Inside Polygamy........ what an interesting setting for a novel.Published 13 months ago by S. Singleton
The story flies along in a bizarre tale that grips you the whole way. What is even better than the story itself is the writing. Read morePublished 16 months ago by The Advisor
This was a good story. Even tho the protagonist seemed like a spineless jellyfish sometimes, you had to like him----and his crazy family. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Carol P.
Sections of this book held my attention while other parts seemed to lag. The ending was unexpected.Published 18 months ago by Anita D. Hoag