Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.

Buy Used
FREE Shipping on orders over $25.
Condition: Used: Good
Comment: Good condition, fast shipping. Minor wear from storage and/or use. Eligible for Amazon Prime and Super Saver shipping programs. Satisfaction guaranteed!
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

Shattered Dreams: My Life as a Polygamist's Wife Hardcover – August 22, 2007

4.3 out of 5 stars 240 customer reviews

See all 11 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
New from Used from
"Please retry"
$1.84 $0.01

Best Books of the Year So Far
Looking for something great to read? Browse our editors' picks for the Best Books of the Year So Far in fiction, nonfiction, mysteries, children's books, and much more.
click to open popover

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Just as A Mormon Mother is the standout memoir of a 19th-century polygamous woman's life, this autobiography offers the compelling voice of a contemporary plural wife's experiences. Daughter of a second wife, Spencer was raised strictly in the Principle as it was lived secretly and illegally by fringe communities of Mormon fundamentalists—groups that split off from the LDS Church when it abandoned polygamy more than a century ago. In spite of her mother's warnings and the devotion of a boyfriend with monogamist intentions, Spencer followed her religious convictions—that living in polygamy was essential for eternal salvation—and became a second wife herself at the age of 16 in 1953. It's hard to tell which is more devastating in this memoir: the strains of husband-sharing with—ultimately—nine other wives, or the unremitting poverty that came with maintaining so many households and 56 children. Spencer's writing is lively and full of engaging dialogue, and her life is nothing short of astonishing. After 28 years of polygamous marriage, Spencer has lived the last 19 years in monogamy. Her story will be emotional and shocking, but many readers will resonate with the universal question the memoir raises: how to reconcile inherited religious beliefs when they grate against social norms and the deepest desires of the heart. (Aug. 22)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Spencer’s riveting memoir recounts her experiences as a plural wife. Merlington infuses her reading with a sense of the author’s spiritual struggles over her lifestyle. She reads the early parts of the memoir dealing with Spencer’s childhood in a brisk, almost youthful voice. After the author’s marriage at age 16 to Verlan LeBaron, in which she became the second wife, Spencer’s sense of the ordinary collapses in her struggles to understand the religious dictates of her marriage. Merlington expresses Spencer’s internal and external conflicts with sympathetic understanding and heightens the woman’s physical and mental distress with a well-modulated and clearly paced narration. The near death of her 10-month-old son is one of the many horrors Spencer experienced during her 28-year marriage to LeBaron, and one that Merlington highlights with an empathetic tone. --Mary McCay --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

The latest book club pick from Oprah
"The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead is a magnificent novel chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. See more

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Center Street; 1 edition (August 22, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1599957191
  • ISBN-13: 978-1599957197
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.5 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (240 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #336,412 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Important Information

Example Ingredients

Example Directions

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This is an amazing story, which reads like fiction, although it's not. Irene's real life experiences are hard for many of us to comprehend. Religious principles that promote polygamy as Godly seems alien in the land of the free and the brave. Although now illegal in the US, it's likely that in remote parts of the US, Mexico and elsewhere, young woman are still being indoctrinated in this way. Our author was one of them.

Irene's courage in living this life and then leaving it, is admirable, and the close-up look at fundamental Mormonism this book provides, is a real eye-opener. The reader will feel sympathy, and admiration for this young woman in her struggle to do the right thing. The author reveals to us through this wonderful book, the struggles she endured to get free of the marriage and lifestyle that she felt was wrong. She also shared the aspects of Mormon polygamy that are often overlooked: abject poverty as a result of too many mouths to feed, lack of privacy, abjegation of self, and the continuing indoctrination of female children, and the overall effects of these things on the family dynamic.

I found that Irene's perspective on polygamy and monogamy, having lived in both, and her commentary on this subject is really interesting, particularly to those of us who have only been involved in monogamous relationships.

This is an unusual book on Mormon polygamy written by someone who's experienced it, and despite the author's experiences and struggles to leave that lifestyle, she writes compassionately of the church, her former family members and the experience. This is a wonderful book that is highly recommended.
Comment 135 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover
Shattered Dreams is a fascinating look at a way of life totally foreign to most people. Irene Spencer grew up in the branch of the Mormon faith that still believed in polygamy. The second of what was ultimately her husband's ten wives, she became the mother of thirteen of his 58 children. The statistics are important as they show the unimaginable situation in which Irene Spencer spend much of her life.

This book is a brutally honest memoir of a woman' life. It follows her from place to place, never enough money, rarely in a finished house, living in abject poverty. She loves her husband but is able to spend very little time with him. He is spread too thin trying to meet the needs of both his large family and his church. She yearns for romance and affection, neither of which have a place in the religion she embraces. Her husband rarely sees his children- hard to spend quality time with 58 children. She helps her "sister wives" with their children in an extended system of family and obligations.

Shattered Dreams is a glimpse into the incredible life of one woman. She is able to take the reader through the many journeys, locations and situations in which she found herself. Her ability to look back on the emotions she suffered and share them is a gift she shares thoughtfully and clearly. It is an emotional tale but told without self pity, without holding back on any part of it.

It has basic background on the church, its history and turbulence as it affects her life. A follow up to this memoir would be most welcomed to expand on the Mormon Church and the events that are mentioned in this book. Irene Spencer's ability to handle concrete details along with a descriptive voice would make her an ideal author to examine and share more information on this subject.
6 Comments 143 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Irene Spencer, in her first book Shattered Dreams, speaks boldly from the heart of a woman oppressed by a patriarchal religious cult and powerfully bares her life of loneliness, longing and determination to overcome.

Her story chronicles the severe pain of sharing a husband with nine other wives all vying for her husband's attention and affection. She lived in abject poverty in the Mexican desert, raising 13 of her husband's 58 children, often without running water or electricity.

Shattered Dreams reads like a page-turner novel and finishes strong. I quickly found myself cheering for Irene as she overcame each obstacle and bravely chose to take control of her life.
Comment 70 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover
Shattered Dreams is the autobiography of Irene Spencer, a woman raised in a fundamentalist polygamous sect of the Mormon faith. Irene was raised to honor the Principle (of plural marriage and reverence for the sect leader) to achieve eternal salvation. Despite her own mother abandoning the Principle, and despite a suitor who promised Irene a monogamous, mainstream lifestyle in the LDS church, Irene married a polygamous man in 1953 at the age of just 16. From girlhood through motherhood, Irene grappled with her own mortal desires to have a husband all to herself, to bear only as many children as she could afford, and to achieve stability and financial security. As a member of a polygamous sect, Irene prayed to banish these selfish desires and worked to obey her husband's desire for a kingdom of seven (or more) wives, which would ensure him godhood in his faith.

Polygamy is punishable by ex-communication from the LDS church, so Irene's marriage was a secret from her closest friends and family members until her husband moved Irene and his first wife, Charlotte, to rural Mexico, where they could avoid both LDS scrutiny and the law of the U.S. With their husband Verlan, Irene and her nine sister wives moved across Mexico and South America in search of farming and business ventures that would ensure their survival. She lived in unfinished homes without running water or electricity for most of her life, but she formed a community with the local Mexicans, sharing U.S. surplus clothing and blankets as well as food. Irene even adopted a local abandoned baby who was turned out by the family patriarch. Her stories are humorous and heart-warming, despite the fact that in reality, her family was constantly at the edge of survival.
Read more ›
Comment 37 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Most Recent Customer Reviews

Pages with Related Products. See and discover other items: connecticut history