Reviewed by Phee Paradise
The Sister Wife
By Diane Noble
Imagine the man you love, who has committed himself to you in marriage, taking a second wife because God told him to. In The Sister Wife, Gabriel MacKay is a devout Mormon with two wives. We see his point of view, which is complex, but the story is more about his first wife, Mary Rose, than it is about Gabe.
It starts with a gripping prologue that shows Mary Rose facing Gabe’s wedding to his second wife. I was fascinated by her feelings of hurt, anger, determination and love for Gabe. But, after pulling me into her turmoil, in chapter one, Noble jolted me by jumping back to a time before the two had met. It was a disappointing shift, although she is such a skilled writer that it didn’t take me long to fall back into their story.
Neither Mary Rose nor Gabe were born Mormon. Her grandfather converted when the religion was quite new and, in spite of her doubts, he brought her with him to America to live in the town the Saints were building. Gabe had rejected God when his family died at sea. They met on board ship while crossing the ocean where they fell in love and married. They also witnessed a miracle performed by Brigham Young that convinced them both that he was right about God and the new Church.
The transformation in their marriage, and especially in Gabe’s beliefs is gradual, but inexorable. He is drawn in by Joseph Smith’s teaching that he can become a god. Mary Rose is disturbed that women are excluded and that she can only learn about the faith from Gabe. But she loves and trusts him, and he has a charm that always turns away her doubts.
I loved Mary Rose, but I was disappointed that she let Gabe persuade her to a lifestyle that she hated. I begged her to say no to him, but each time she made a decision to stand up to him or to leave him, circumstances or his charm changed her mind. The changes in Gabe were not so complex and I was disappointed to learn that he had a predisposition to love more than one woman. I felt it reduced his Mormon beliefs to simple lust.
The descriptions of faith in the book are interesting and at first I wondered if Noble is a Mormon. The teachings of the Prophet seemed authentic and I could see why the characters embraced his religion. None of them seemed to have much background in true Christianity. Mary Rose remembered her mother teaching her scripture when she was young, but was confused about its truth, since Smith taught that most of the Bible was wrong. She and some of the other women doubt the new religion and ask God to reveal Himself to them, but there is no one to help them find the truth.
The Sister Wife is a fascinating story about love and faith, and how people change. The growth in the characters is enough to recommend the book, but it’s also a well told story. I couldn’t put it down.
Pros: Fascinating story with wonderful characters about a lifestyle that is incomprehensible to most of us. Very well written.
Cons: The characters never find the truth, although there are hints of it throughout the story.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
With more than a quarter million books in print, Diane feels incredibly blessed to be doing what she loves best—writing the stories of her heart.
For the last three years Diane has been honored to be lead author for the popular Guideposts series, Mystery and the Minister’s Wife (Through the Fire, Angels Undercover), and has recently returned to writing historical fiction. She is currently writing book two of her new historical series, The Brides of Gabriel. Book one is The Sister Wife.
Diane’s hometown is Big Creek, California, a tiny village nestled in the rugged Sierra Nevada back country. As a child, Diane’s older brother Dennis fueled her creative streak by entertaining her with his own gift of storytelling. Growing up without TV and iffy radio reception, Diane became an avid reader, inhaling more than one hundred novels—both YA and adult—in a single
year by the time she reached seventh grade. Her passion for reading continues to this day.
Now empty nesters, Diane and her husband live in the Southern California low desert, near a place known for the lush and beautiful gated communities of the rich and famous.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Set in the heart of the earliest days of a new nineteenth-century sect known as the Saints, The Sister Wife is a riveting account of two women forced into a practice they don't understand, bound by their devotion to Prophet Joseph Smith.
When Mary Rose marries Gabriel, neither of them could foresee how quickly the community would turn to the practice of plural marriage. Devastated when Gabe is faced with an order from the Prophet to marry her best friend, Bronwyn, Mary Rose tries to have the faith to carry through with the marriage.
But can she really be married to the same man as her very best friend? Can Mary Rose and Bronwyn face betraying both their husband and their God to do what they feel is right?
To read the Prologue and first chapter of The Sister Wife, click HERE.
Watch the book video!
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Reviewed by Phee Paradise