The Celestial Wife

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The story of Daisy Shoemaker, who ranges in age from fifteen, at the start of the story, to her coming-of-age at twenty-one. Daisy is a fictional character, based on historically accurate research on the appalling lives of girls and women in fundamentalist Mormon polygamist (FLDS) sects as existed in the timeframe of the mid to late sixties.

Daisy lives in rural British Columbia, Canada, in a fictional FLDS community called Redemption, modeled after the real life Bountiful, BC and its sister cities in Utah and Arizona.

With her first person POV voice, Daisy touches us with her intimate tale of longing, isolation, and hardship as, two years after being forcibly removed from her biological mother Ruth’s home (due to trumped-up religious infractions attributed to Ruth), Daisy still struggles to fit in with the new family assigned to her. A family that consists of one father, six mothers, and thirty five “sibling” children.

As Daisy’s placement day approaches, we learn of her soon to be forced-marriage, at fifteen, to the love of her life, the handsome Tobias, or to potentially one of a number of much older (creepy) and unsavory prospects, each of whom are much-married already.

An interesting and very disturbing tale, Daisy is a sympathetic character facing a horrendous future with no power of choice or independence. Her challenges, and the approach she ultimately takes to dealing with them, makes for engaging reading. Set against the backdrop of the swinging sixties, the author summons up polarities that are fascinating: imaginary borders, erected by religion or philosophy, pitting community-wide free love, drugs, youth and freedom against oppression, misogyny and horrific abuse (sexual or otherwise).

It’s a story that’s hard to put down.

But be warned: this is also a read so disturbing that it may have you (as it has this reader), scouring the references provided for further reads on this unsettling subject matter.

A great big thank you to Netgalley, the author, and the publisher for an ARC of this book. All thoughts presented are my own.


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