- Paperback: 336 pages
- Publisher: Anchor; Reprint edition (April 8, 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0385720696
- ISBN-13: 978-0385720694
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #234,810 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Red Water: A Novel Paperback – April 8, 2003
Frequently Bought Together
From Publishers Weekly
In 1857, in a field in southern Utah, a party of Mormons and Native Americans slaughtered more than a hundred men, women and children who were traveling to California. Only one man was ever tried, and executed, for the horror that became known as the Mountain Meadows Massacre John D. Lee. This well-told novel by Freeman (The Chinchilla Farm) presents Lee's story from the point of view of three of his 19 wives: Emma, his "English bride," who recognizes that the man she loves is made up of equal parts tenderness and savagery; Ann, a child-bride of 13, who is hardened and wise beyond her years; and Rachel, the faithful, older wife, who remains devoted to Lee even after his excommunication and eventual execution. Freeman's novel is well researched (drawing heavily upon the work of historian Juanita Brooks), and her nuanced, perceptive portrayal of Mormon life stands in stark contrast to other Mormon-themed fiction (particularly the recent novels of Brigham Bybee). The book's descriptions are memorable, evoking the bleak but stunning landscape of the region. The motif of the red scenery reflects the raw bloodiness of the massacre, a metaphor that is often brilliant but occasionally overdone ("The very atmosphere of this brute red world seemed impregnated with sorrow and evil, colored by all the innocent blood shed that day"). Rachel's deeply pious character is remote and slightly underdeveloped; her section is the shortest and the last. Overall, Freeman has crafted a novel that is historically faithful, character-driven and deeply poignant. 9-city author tour.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From The New Yorker
Unlike most historical novels, this one, which opens with a man's execution, doesn't pander to contemporary values. The condemned is a charismatic Mormon leader who participated in the massacre of a hundred and twenty Gentile pioneers in 1857, and Freeman describes the crime through the reactions of three of his nineteen wives. Rachel, the eldest, remains dislikably faithful to his memory. Emma, however, comes to see her husband as self-serving, and his youngest wife, Ann, who married him at the age of thirteen, becomes Emma's unlikely emancipator. With Ann's story—that of a young woman living in the Utah wilderness with a profound sense of her own worth—the narrative soars. Readers may want to shrug off all that makes these devout women endure their existence of farmwork, housework, repeated pregnancies, jealousies, and little to call their own, but Freeman's novel makes astute points about the almost indistinguishable similarities between faith and love.
Copyright © 2005 The New Yorker
Top Customer Reviews
I do confess a bias, however, although different from that of others. I first "met" Captain Alexander Fancher, leader of the Fancher party murdered at the meadows, as I was researching his brother, my great grandfather John Fancher. I found them and their families side by side in the 1850 census of San Diego, California. They had apparently come out together to try their hand at cattle raising and were headed for Tulare county in central California.Read more ›
This is NOT a story about the Mountain Meadow Massacre, though the incident and its characters figure prominently. This is NOT a story about merits or evils of Mormonism, though most of the characters are mormon and deal with their beliefs. Instead Freeman forces us to look at how humans have to come to grips with the complexities of belief and the realities of harsh everyday life.
This is a story centered around a fictionalization of part of the life of John D Lee. Executed for his role in the massacre. But even more than that, it is centrally, a story about women, and how they love.
Emma, the devoted wife who was in love with Lee when he took her as his 8th (well 17th) wife. How she dealt with the love and desire for a man she could not possess for herself but who totally possessed her. How she was bound more to the land and the religion by the man than the other way around.
Ann, who at thirteen married Lee for complex reasons but in the end, was taken by his personality and her own curiosity, shall we say. But who was tormented more by the man whom she lost belief in and the religion she never believed in but was wary of. Lee's memory amd her mixed feelings for him dogged her life even when she had left. Moreso, maybe.
Rachel, who in the end, realized that she was devoted to Lee for what he could promise her in the next life. An eternity next to the sister she idolized and loved. But Rachel's devotion may appear more as love than the love of the others.
There was a certain fascination in this book for me. It is well done and I literally read it in two days almost straight through.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Excellent tale. It's important that members of the church familiarize themselves with uncorrelated church history- even if it's thru historical fiction. Start somewherePublished 10 months ago by maria berry
A novel about Mormon polygamy centered around the Meadows Massacre. The perspectives of three of one leader’s (John Lee) wives. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Jan Francis
This book was an interesting read though depressing and a bit too long. It did, however, make me want to learn more about the facts of the Mountain Meadows Massacre.Published 21 months ago by Sheila
Interesting historical event of the "Mountain Meadow massacre" and the person who was the scapegoat and executed. Read morePublished 22 months ago by Kay A. Ballif
Well written enjoyed how the stories was told differently by the three different wives. Once again I am reminded of the resilience of women and am glad to be among strong women in... Read morePublished on January 16, 2014 by robin grover
Parts of the novel were like a list of supplies in a cupboard, and many scenic descriptions went on and on. We have all seen clouds, mountains and meadows. Read morePublished on December 10, 2013 by Sharon Lynne Bell
This book is an incredible read based upon an historical massacre that occured in southern in Utah in the 1800's. Somehow, the author has woven details . Read morePublished on November 30, 2013 by star gazer
If you like real mormon history from a different perspective of women who dare tell it like it is - you will like this.Published on November 23, 2013 by Jeanne Aldrich