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Tuesday, October 23, 2018

The Glovemaker...#BookReview

About the book:
In the inhospitable lands of the Utah Territory, during the winter of 1888, thirty-seven-year-old Deborah Tyler waits for her husband, Samuel, to return home from his travels as a wheelwright. It is now the depths of winter, Samuel is weeks overdue, and Deborah is getting worried.

Deborah lives in Junction, a tiny town of seven Mormon families scattered along the floor of a canyon, and she earns her living by tending orchards and making work gloves. Isolated by the red-rock cliffs that surround the town, she and her neighbors live apart from the outside world, even regarded with suspicion by the Mormon faithful who question the depth of their belief.

When a desperate stranger who is pursued by a Federal Marshal shows up on her doorstep seeking refuge, it sets in motion a chain of events that will turn her life upside down. The man, a devout Mormon, is on the run from the US government, which has ruled the practice of polygamy to be a felony. Although Deborah is not devout and doesn’t subscribe to polygamy, she is distrustful of non-Mormons with their long tradition of persecuting believers of her wider faith.

But all is not what it seems, and when the Marshal is critically injured, Deborah and her husband’s best friend, Nels Anderson, are faced with life and death decisions that question their faith, humanity, and both of their futures.

Those who lived in the canyons of southern Utah knew them to be inhospitable to even the hardiest of settlers and travelers. Deborah waits for word from her husband Samuel, who has been traveling as a wheelwright. He is late arriving, and as she is alone as winter sets in, Deborah worries. But, she is an amazingly strong and resilient woman, despite the adversity and struggles she has endured.

Deborah and her husband, while not practicing polygamy themselves, are part of a network that helps men who are being pursued by lawmen because they are polygamists. Men show up at their farm and knowing the proper codes are given food, a night's rest and a guide to the next outpost as they outrun the law.

The story alternates viewpoints between Deborah and her husband's best friend and step-brother Nels and reads almost as a narrated journal from each person. But, even with both perspectives, this is very much Deborah's story. As she narrates her experiences, the pace is slow, but flowing and her descriptions are vivid and her explanations of the practices of Mormonism at the time are accurate and I found myself sympathetic to her conflicting thoughts and doubting faith.

So many authors who tackle the subject of Mormons and polygamy, often do so from an angle that is derogatory and critical of the people who practiced it. I appreciated that the author did not do that. Instead, she wrote about it from the sensitive viewpoint of an LDS woman who does not necessarily support the practice of polygamy, but understands that people of her faith do and who, because of her compassion can't turn away men who are fleeing the law.

The subject of polygamy is one that isn't simply black and white, especially for those who practiced it. Deborah's story shows us the complexities involved in the decisions made to take additional wives and in the reactions of the first or previous wives.

This was my first Ann Weisgarber novel, but it won't be my last. This is a story that resonated and stayed with me. My only pet peeve, and my copy is an ARC, so hopefully this has been corrected, but in the preface, there is a scripture quoted from the Book of Mormon and it is incorrect. The reference cites Ester and it should be Ether.

Thanks to Netgalley and Skyhorse Publishing for the opportunity to review this book. You can learn more about Ann Weisgarber on her website and follow her on Twitter.

Read 10/18

* * * *
4/5 Stars

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