W W Norton & Co
Golden Richards is a gruff, middle aged man. Upon meeting him, you would expect that he is a pretty typical guy, so most people don’t guess that he is a polygamist with four wives and countless children. He is married to Beverly, Nola, Rose of Sharon and Tricia and they have so many children that I literally couldn’t keep track of them.
Although Golden has a huge family, luckily Udall chooses to focus on only three family members as the main characters of the book.
Golden: It was difficult for me to decide how I felt about Golden. His family was falling apart at the seams, yet Golden refused to take responsibility and instead fled by working a job site in Nevada. He is gone almost constantly and instead of going back home and seeking solace from his wives and children, especially Tricia, who is yearning for love and affection, Golden begins to develop feelings for his bosses wife Huila.
Tricia: Tricia is wife number 4. She has been married to Golden for a couple of years and bore one child with him, a son that was stillborn. Tricia has been yearning for a connection with her husband but he refuses to let her in and a chasm forms between them. Tricia feels lost in the family and eventually forges a friendship with a young local man. Eventually she must decide whether she wants to stay with Golden and the family or escape to a different life.
Rusty: Rusty is the prepubescent son of Golden and Rose of Sharon. He doesn’t really have a place in the family. He is the black sheep and doesn’t have a bond with any of his brothers or sisters, who often tease him. He attempts to reach out to his mother, but she is battling her own demons and is unable to offer Rusty what he is seeking. In order to gain attention from his family members, Rusty acts out in ways that get more and more destructive as the book goes on.
One interesting side note: I imagined Rusty as the chubby kid with curly red hair from The Sandlot.
I am a bit obsessed with the polygamist lifestyle right now, due solely to TLC’s show Sister Wives. For those of you who have not seen the show, it is a reality TV program following polygamist Kody Brown and his four wives and numerous kids. Sound familiar? I couldn’t help but imagine Golden and his four wives as Kody, Meri, Janelle, Christina and Robin from Sister Wives!
Sister Wives aside, The Lonely Polygamist was a very different type of book that held my attention *for the most part*. My biggest caveat was the length of the book. I don’t have a problem with reading a 600 page book, but this one lost it in the middle. There were a good one or two hundred pages that started to lag and made the book really monotonous. By the time the ending came around, I was getting really bored. I was lucky in that the ending came around just in time and really saved the book for me.
Speaking of the ending, I thought it was phenomenal. I don’t want to give anything away, obviously, but being that we read this book for my book club (we have yet to discuss it, so I can’t speak to how my fellow book club members feel about the book), I loved how much food for thought the ending brought on. I think it will lead to a great discussion. In fact, one of my coworkers is in my book club and when she finished the book last week, we couldn’t wait and had to discuss the book straight away.
This is the type of book that you need to go into expecting to devote quite a bit of time and attention to. It’s definitely an interesting look into a different type of family dynamic.
My mom purchased this book for me–wasn’t that nice of her?!
Book club pick for October/November 2010.