Book Review: Hidden Wives – Claire Avery

Title: Hidden Wives
Author: Claire Avery
ISBN: 9780765326898
Pages: 336
Release Date: June 8, 2010
Publisher: Forge
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Source: TLC Book Tours 
Rating: 4 out of 5

Summary:

Sara lives in the Blood of the Lamb polygamous sect in rural Utah.  Though she’s only fifteen, she’s past the age where most girls in the community have been married.  The only thing that’s keeping her unmarried is the fact that her older sister, Rachel, is also unmarried.  Rachel is exceptionally beautiful, and as a result, many men have received testimony from God in order to marry her.  When the Prophet reveals who Sara will marry, it horrifies her.  She begins to question her upbringing and the community she was raised in, hoping that one day she’ll be able to escape.

Review:

I’ve read a few books about polygamous communities, and all have been pretty horrifying.  From David Ebershoff’s The 19th Wife to Carol Lynch Williams’ The Chosen One, these books portray a society so foreign and repulsive, it’s hard to believe that the stories within these novels are actually taking place somewhere in the United States.  Hidden Wives has a “ripped from the headlines” feel to it; it’s dramatic and eye-opening.

The two main characters in Hidden Wives are Sara and Rachel, though there are other narrators interspersed throughout the story.  Sara begins to question her faith and the community’s practices very early in the novel.  Having attended public school outside the community and embraced it, she realizes that they are very different from everyone else.  Rachel, on the other hand, is much more of a sheep.  She truly believes in the Prophet and their religion, as well as the sanctity of plural (or celestial) marriage.  It takes a lot to shake her faith, and even once that happens, she is still worried about apostasy and going to hell. 

Avery (the author Claire Avery is actually the pseudonym of two sisters, but for the purposes of this review, I’ll refer to them as “Avery”) develops these characters well, really endearing them to the reader.  Having two main characters is also very effective – Sara is the protagonist, trying to bring change.  Rachel is the other side of the spectrum, a perfect example of how indoctrinated these girls are.  Looking at her, it’s easier to understand why more women don’t try to escape these horrible conditions.

Hidden Wives is a tense, suspenseful read.  Sometimes I felt like the events portrayed were unrealistic (for example, how quickly Sara accepted an African American boy, when she’d been taught from birth they were basically the spawn of Satan), but in general it’s a gripping read.  The abuse that these women have to endure is simply heartbreaking.  It’s not a book for the faint of heart, but it’s certainly a detailed and well-researched look at a polygamous community.

Comments

  1. Yikes! Sounds very powerful. I just can’t imagine living under those conditions, but I guess if you’re born into it you have a different idea.

  2. Yikes! Sounds very powerful. I just can’t imagine living under those conditions, but I guess if you’re born into it you have a different idea.

  3. Wow, this sounds fascinating. I’m adding it to my list of books to check out.

  4. Wow, this sounds fascinating. I’m adding it to my list of books to check out.

  5. How did this book slip under my radar? It sounds like a book that would be right up my alley! Definitely want to get my hands on it!

  6. How did this book slip under my radar? It sounds like a book that would be right up my alley! Definitely want to get my hands on it!

  7. Thanks for the review. I will now have to put another book on hold at the library. 🙂

  8. Thanks for the review. I will now have to put another book on hold at the library. 🙂

  9. I so want to read this book! I have also been reading a lot about polygamy and think this would be a very interesting book to continue my reading with. I almost bought it the other day, but opted for another book. After reading your review, I fear I made a bad choice, but alas, there is always next time! Have you read The Lonely Polygamist by Brady Udall? It’s a really awesome read, both comic and very, very sad. Also there is another book on the subject that I have read called Mr. Wroe’s Virgins, by Jane Rogers. That one was very suspenseful and sad. Another one that I will be reading very soon is The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives, which deals with polygamy in Nigeria. Sorry to be so verbose, I am just really interested in this topic!!

  10. I so want to read this book! I have also been reading a lot about polygamy and think this would be a very interesting book to continue my reading with. I almost bought it the other day, but opted for another book. After reading your review, I fear I made a bad choice, but alas, there is always next time! Have you read The Lonely Polygamist by Brady Udall? It’s a really awesome read, both comic and very, very sad. Also there is another book on the subject that I have read called Mr. Wroe’s Virgins, by Jane Rogers. That one was very suspenseful and sad. Another one that I will be reading very soon is The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives, which deals with polygamy in Nigeria. Sorry to be so verbose, I am just really interested in this topic!!

  11. Great review! I’m so glad you enjoyed the book. It really does sound gripping. I also found myself interested in polygamy after reading The 19th Wife so I’ve added this one to my list.

    Thanks so much for being on the tour!! We really appreciate it.

  12. Great review! I’m so glad you enjoyed the book. It really does sound gripping. I also found myself interested in polygamy after reading The 19th Wife so I’ve added this one to my list.

    Thanks so much for being on the tour!! We really appreciate it.

  13. I don’t know how I missed this one but I would love to read it. I have only read a few books whose plot included polygamy, but I would love to check out a few more.

  14. I don’t know how I missed this one but I would love to read it. I have only read a few books whose plot included polygamy, but I would love to check out a few more.

  15. I’ve got this one to read as well so I’m happy to see you liked it. I still haven’t read The 19th Wife but have that as well. The whole subject of polygamy is fascinating to read about even though I can’t imagine living it.

  16. I’ve got this one to read as well so I’m happy to see you liked it. I still haven’t read The 19th Wife but have that as well. The whole subject of polygamy is fascinating to read about even though I can’t imagine living it.

  17. I cannot imagine what their lives must be like.

    lkish77123 at gmail dot com

  18. I cannot imagine what their lives must be like.

    lkish77123 at gmail dot com

  19. I’ve been wanting to read this book.
    Theresa N
    weceno(at)yahoo(dot)com

  20. I’ve been wanting to read this book.
    Theresa N
    weceno(at)yahoo(dot)com

  21. I read your review of Hidden Wives awhile back, and added it to my “to read” list. I finally had the chance to read it! Here are my thoughts
    http://lusravesandrants.blogspot.com/2010/09/hidden-wives-by-claire-avery-from.html

  22. I read your review of Hidden Wives awhile back, and added it to my “to read” list. I finally had the chance to read it! Here are my thoughts
    http://lusravesandrants.blogspot.com/2010/09/hidden-wives-by-claire-avery-from.html

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