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The Lonely Polygamist

by Brady Udall

This great novel reminded me just how good US writers are at making the lives of dysfunctional families so funny and yet so moving. Concentration is necessary as this story of fundamentalist Mormon living in Nevada is seen mostly through the eyes of Golden Richards, but also those of his 4th wife Trish and his 5th son Rusty. The effort is worth it, particularly in the case of Rusty who deserves to join the pantheon of great American adolescents.

Extract

But after reading 'To Love a Scoundrel' he thought maybe he understood. His mother read these books because she wanted to be like Lady Jane Welshingham or Pollyanna Dansforth or the Comanche Bride, ladies who were beautiful and had adventures and boyfriends who loved them and only them, guys like Sir Nigel Mountcastle, who was ravishing and said things like, 'Oh, Jane, you possess me, you enrapture my very soul.' As far as Rusty could tell, none of the ladies in these books had seven children and had to share a husband with three others, the husband being a Sasquatch who smelled like Ben-Gay and stumbled around blinking like he didn't know where he was, who was never around, who paid almost no attention at all to Rose-of-Sharon Richards, his very own wife.

Parallels

A Prayer for Owen Meanie by John Irving
The Catcher in the Rye by J D Salinger
Daughter of the Saints by Dorothy Allred Solomon
 

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