The Lonely Polygamist is one of the books chosen by members of the reading club I recently joined. The book’s about a mormon family, living in Utah. Although illegal, the father of the family, Golden Richards, has got four wives. Together they have 28 children. And if that’s not enough for Golden, he’s got a girlfriend as well. A bit of a problem because she’s the wive of his boss.
Although we read a lot about all four of his wives, Beverly, Nola, Rose-of-Sharon and Trish, we get to know Trish best. She’s the youngest of the four wives and extremely unhappy. She wonders if she wants to stay with Golden, tired of all the waiting for him to spend some time with her. One of Golden’s children, Rusty, is a lot like him. He’s the outcast of the family. He hates living in a house separated from his mother and the fact that he always has to share everything with his brothers and sisters. He’ll do anything it takes to get some attention from his mom and dad. A longing that ends in a tragedy.
It’s the lives of Golden, Trish and Rusty that are the three storylines in the book. We get to know them very well. Udall tells us in a humorist way about their uncertainties, their questions, fears and hopes. We read about the distance they have to each other, the incapabalities to understand what the other person feels and to be able to talk about it. Udall knows how to tell a story. Sometimes it’s funny, sometimes tragic. As a reader you come to love Golden, Trish and even the, most of the time, pain in the neck kid, Rusty. It’s as if you become a part of the family.
I really enjoyed reading this book, a mix of black comedy and tragedy. Four stars.
Brady Udall’s got his own website. For those of you who like reading them, some reviews: The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Independent. Finally, I’ve found t a YouTube video with Brady Udall discussing the book.