Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Book Review: "The Lonely Polygamist" by Brady Udall
As hard as it may be to believe, Golden Richards is lonely. Golden has four wives and 28 children, but he's never been lonelier in his life. He is mired in a controversial construction job that, if discovered, could bring disgrace to him and his family; he knows his wives and children are looking to him more and more for guidance but he can't avoid them quickly enough; he is still mourning the loss of one of his daughters several years ago; and he has begun a tantalizing flirtation with Huila, a Guatemalan woman who doesn't know about his real life. He is so afraid of letting everyone down but wants nothing more than to run away and avoid the crushing responsibilities.
The Lonely Polygamist is a humorous, heartbreaking, frustrating and beautifully written novel that looks at the realities of polygamy through the eyes of Golden; Trish, his fourth wife; and Rusty, one of his sons, who doesn't quite fit in and wants to be unique, not just one of 28 children. Brady Udall has done a terrific job creating compelling characters and a story that provides deep perspectives into what has brought Golden to this lonely crossroads in his life. While sometimes Golden is a little too passive and you want to react to him the way his wives want to, at his core you see that this is a man desperate for love and approval who is fearful of making a wrong turn but unsure what else to do.
The literary world has billed this book as the next Great American Novel. I don't think it's quite at that level, but it is a really well-written book with a lot of heart, one that is definitely worth reading.