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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

For Time & Eternity...Review

About the book:
In an effort to escape her stern, legalistic upbringing, Camilla Deardon runs away from home with a handsome young Mormon man, Nathan. Married in the church, they raise their daughters and hope for more children. But their lives take a sudden turn when her husband, whom she loves deeply, is designated for special honor by the church elders. Nathan is given the honor of taking a second wife and soon a new “sister wife” comes into their home.
 

Camilla is heartbroken and remembers the faith of her childhood. She begins to question this revelation and is charged with unfaithfulness to the Mormon teachings. She enters a struggle for her life when elders call for blood atonement for her disobedience. Forced to abandon her children, she leaves them in the care of a Paiute Indian woman who shares her faith. Camilla knows they’ll be safe until she can return for them.

I've debated about whether or not to even review this book, and I've rewritten this review several times.  But, I've seen the book around and I have readers who know that I'm LDS and who seek my thoughts on books written about my faith by those not of my faith. I was curious about the story and I've seen the book praised and gushed over, and I can't do either of those.

I know about the early days of the LDS church regarding polygamy, which was discontinued over a hundred years ago. I don't begin to understand the perspectives of those who practiced it or those who rejected it.  I do know, and I've said it before on reviews of books about polygamy, that those who practiced it believed it to be a commandment from God.  Some felt blessed, others struggled with it and to say that everyone had a positive experience with polygamy is as incorrect as portraying all polygamous marriages as miserable and all Mormon husbands as domineering and selfish.  My own father was a sweet, loving, and unselfish man who put his family before himself, who loved God and served others. I miss him every day.  My husband is a wonderful, loving father and husband who loves and cherishes me and who loves our boys and teaches them, by his own example, how to be a good Christian. The attitudes of the men in this book are not the attitudes of the LDS men I know.

This was an interesting perspective for me to read and while in some things the book is "technically" correct, the portrayal of the whole picture is what bothers me. It's impossible to get the Mormon perspective right when you're not only not a Mormon, but someone who disagrees with the Mormon faith entirely.  Camilla's perspective is from the author and is probably accurate given her beliefs.  The rest of the perspectives bother me, and I can tell you unequivocally that I know no LDS church leader who acts as the ones portrayed here.  No one is forced to join nor are they forced to remain a member of the church and one's children are not taken away if one leaves. Was that done in the early days of the church?  I don't know.  I would have hoped not.  But, things that shouldn't happen in any church do anyway and power is often abused no matter the denomination or faith.  The Bible itself is rife with adultery, polygamy, incest and murder, often at the command of God.

By her own admission in the notes at the back of the book, the author did much of her research with ex-Mormons and it's clear from reading the book that she believes the LDS church to be misguided and that we coerce or seduce people into joining.  She believes the majority of us to be "empty, wounded people" and our faith to be a lie. I think that she managed to convey this belief throughout the book.

I didn't like the book, which will come as no surprise to my regular readers who know my faith.  Those who share the same opinions as the author will probably love the story.  Others might enjoy it, as it is mildly compelling. If you want a positive impression of Mormons or want to actually understand the LDS faith, this is not the book in which to find it. If you truly have a question or want to know something or understand something, ask me, I'd be happy to have an honest dialogue. 

Thanks to my local library for having a copy I could borrow.  You can learn more about Allison Pittman here.  You can learn about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

You can read about my personal faith here, or just click on the My Faith tab.  

You can find other perspectives and reviews at Pebbles in My Pocket and This, That, and The Other Thing.

Read 9/10
 
*
1/5 Stars


*This post has been modified/edited/added to.*

5 comments:

  1. I've never heard of this book and your review doesnt tempt me to read it. Hmmm I find it interesting that she interviewed ex-mormons.

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  2. I'm glad you read the book and reviewed it, and I guess you pretty much said what I would expect you to say. As I told you by email, I find it disconcerting when people write faith-based novels about faiths they don't espouse.

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  3. I enjoyed the book. But I can understand how it would hurt ppl of the LDS faith, just like books written by ex-Hutterites have wounded me. But I do believe ppl within my church have/do have negative experiences. There’s no escaping that no matter where you come from.

    I found several things about this book interesting and have researched them. I think it's important to remember, and I wish the author had pointed this out, that there's a difference between the LSD and the FLDS. The FLDS have changed very little from what your founding fathers believed. They live those principals and doctrines by their own admission. The multiple wives isn't something they even wish to hide, because they believe this is their calling. I think that because this is historical true, this where the author is coming from.

    I didn't find Nathan domineering and selfish at all. I thought he was kind and loving, and as you mentioned "practiced it (because he) believed it to be a commandment from God.” That disagree with the statement, or rather I suppose I can't wrap my mind around it.

    I'm due to review this book on the 10th of Sept. I’d be interested in your thoughts on it once I publish it.

    Lisa D.
    Pebbles in my Pocket

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  4. I didn't dislike Nathan either; to me the "bad guys" were the church authorities, like the one who rejected Nathan's gift for the temple.

    I read somewhere, sometime, that one of the reasons (completely disregarding the idea that they might actually have believed they were called by God) the Mormons adopted polygamy is that they found themselves with more women than men, and the economic reality was that marriage was necessary for women--look at Evangeline in the book. I will say I was disappointed in Nathan when he insisted that the second wife be the pretty young newcomer (who could could probably have been a first --maybe only--wife and not his old friend who needed a home.

    Holly, how prevalent was plural marriage with the Mormons?

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  5. In reality, polygamy wasn't practiced by a majority of the early Mormons. Depending on where you look, and because of poor record keeping, estimates are anywhere from 5 to 30%.

    And, RAnn, I agree with the portrayal of church authorities.

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