Monday, December 20, 2010

164 - The Lonely Polygamist; Brady Udall












The sympathetic protagonist of The Lonely Polygamist is Golden Richards, who isn't just another man in the midst of a mid-life crisis. Golden, is a Mormon fundamentalist; a Polygamist, who has four wives and 28 children, but still, he has not found happiness in the life he has been leading.

The 32 members of his family share three homes. The first wife, Beverly is firm, set in her ways, and not afraid to speak her mind. She lives in the old house, along with some ten children. Wives two and three are sisters (Rose-of-Sharon and Nola): Nola is calm in the midst of chaos, while Rose, is fragile and has mental health issues.  The fourth wife, Trish, is prettier and much younger than the other wives. She lives with just one child, Faye, a.k.a "the weird one", in the third house. Trish has suffered several miscarriages, and she thinks about sex all of the time, but gets very little of it when she does get to spend time with Golden. His wives frequently argue among themselves, arrange date nights for Golden, and they take occasional emergencies that present themselves in stride.

Golden is a shy, passive man who feels like he is drowning.  His can barely support his large family with his construction business. He spends a lot of time away from his family; he is currently remodeling a brothel in Nevada, some 200 miles away from home. To save face, the people back home are told that he is building a senior center. Even a new mistress doesn't seem to help improve his spirits.

Although Golden has 28 children, the only child who has a voice is Rusty, son #5. His mother Rose-of-Sharon, is mentally ill-equipped to handle the child referred to as the "family terrorist".  When Rusty, just seems like a bit too much for his mother to handle, he is sent to live elsewhere. The reader cannot help but sympathize with this young boy who is desperately seeking attention, but going about it in all the wrong ways. He doesn't get along with any of his siblings, and as time goes on Rusty starts down a dangerous path with terrible consequences.

The Lonely Polygamist was one of those novels that are not easily forgotten. Although the novel is peppered with humorous situations, like Golden having to explain how gum ended up stuck in his nether-region, it also has moments of profound sadness, like when Golden reflects on the accidental death of his handicapped daughter, and others that would lead to serious spoilers.  I thought, I would have an immediate dislike for Golden, being a polygamist, but instead I pitied him. Numerous wives and women and opportunities for sex, brought him no pleasure. He wandered from house to house, unable to remember the names of his children, unless he sang a little tune, and even being with his large family, he is a man unfulfilled, floundering in a life he was just not cut out for.

Although this audio book was very long, seldom did it drag or become bogged down.  The reader, David Baker did an awesome job.  If you enjoy a book about dysfunctional families, with a balance of humor and sympathetic moments,  this book is worth your time. It is unlikely to disappoint you. 

RATING - 4.5/5 stars
Library audio book

38 comments:

  1. This sounds like a unique look at a topic that is (oddly?) popular right now. I think I'll have to put it on my books to be on the lookout for list. Thanks for the great review! =)

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  2. I looked this book over at the library today and am glad to read your positive review.

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  3. I am definitely intrigued by books that look at Mormonism and if this one has funny in it? I might have to check it out!

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  4. Well it is a difficult topic especially for a Western mindset! More than the polygamy here it is a story of a muddled man who is seeking and not finding happiness or contentment (I think).

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  5. I have this book checked out and you've encouraged me to read it next. I saw it on a "Best Books of 2010" list and it sounded interesting. Thanks for the review! Annie

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  6. this sounds like a very interesting and moving book-I enjoyed your post a lot

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  7. Although polygamy seems so strange to me, this book sounds intriguing. I have read other reviews of it, and may actually end up reading the book, Terrific review!

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  8. I have not read anything on Polygamy but this does sound something that is worth a read. I am surprised you don't dislike Golden instead pity him, the author has done a good job there then

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  9. interesting subject...yes, for some odd reason. sounds like a good take on it.

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  10. I've never read anything about polygamist so it would be interesting to try it especially that this one seems like a good book to read.
    Merry Christmas to you and your family, Diane!

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  11. This sounds really interesting, probably one to make my family seem more normal :-P

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  12. Hmm, I don't mind small doses of "dysfunctional families fiction" but you really caught my interest in Golden's description: a shy, passive man with four wives - it made me chuckle :-)
    Seriously, though, since the reader did a great job, this could be one I'd listen to at some point. Thanks for a great review, Diane.

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  13. While I'm skeptical about empathizing with a man with four wives, your review does give me pause for thought. Very nicely done!

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  14. Thanks for this great review. This is a new-to-me book. The story sounds. I might just it pick up!

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  15. I'll definitely add this to my list. What a wonderful review! Thank you for the introduction!

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  16. I loved this review! I thought this was an incredible book and was so captivated by it. I liked Golden, but Rusty really stole my heart. I am glad to hear that you liked it too and that it was such a good read for you. Your review really did it justice!

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  17. That does sound interesting, but that sure is one big family!

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  18. This one has been high up on my to-read list.

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  19. I grabbed this book when I saw it at a book swap because of Zibilee's rave review. Now I want to read it even more! So glad you enjoyed it, and I look forward to meeting Rusty.

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  20. I was discussing this with my husband who commented 4 wives, 28 children and he expects to be happy.

    A great sounding book and one I must read, thanks for the recommendation.

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  21. You would think having 4 wives and a mistress would give him some happiness... Maybe if he downsized?

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  22. I have been so curious about this book! You did a great job of reviewing it! So often fictional accounts of these types of families come from the perspective of the children, how unhappy they are etc. This sounds like a fresh approach.

    Thanks for sharing!

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  23. I have to read this book! I'm inexplicably (and horrifically) fascinated by polygamy! Ever since Sister Wives first aired... weird. I gave you a shout out on my blog today. Check it out if you like!
    www.adbits.blogspot.com

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  24. What an unique and interesting plot...I will have to track a copy down from the library!

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  25. I have this in print and I'm really looking forward to reading it. I'm fascinated with polygamy for some odd reason.

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  26. I keep seeing positive reviews of this but have yet to actually pick it up! I'm happy to hear the audio is good; I might end up going that route. I don't mind long audiobooks as long as they're engrossing, which it sounds like this one is!

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  27. My grandmother was born into a polygamous family so this book has been on my radar for a while. Like the review.

    PB

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  28. I'm happy to see that thumbs-up -- I have a copy this in print and have been meaning to get to it for months.

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  29. I've heard this one is great. Thanks for the wonderful review. It makes me want to pick it up.

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  30. I'm glad to see you gave this one a positive review. I've been thinking of picking it up.

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  31. This sounds like such a sad book. I guess it helps to make polygamy unattractive though!

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  32. Glad to see you enjoyed this. It was probably my favorite book from this past year. The image of the boy at the window is still with me...

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  33. What an intriguing book. I have to say that I'm a little curious about it. Thanks for your review!

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  34. I really want to read this one! It's high on my wishlist! Great review - you really reminded me about this book and I want to check it out at the library.

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  35. Ooh, glad to see the thumbs ups!

    I got this in print from the Powell's Indiespensibles program, but haven't opened it yet. Your review really piques my interest.

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  36. I saw a very beat up copy of this in the clearance area of Half-Price Books and really thought I needed it. But I just cannot make myself buy books that have been handled that much!

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  37. It is interesting that the author made the man with all the wives a sympathetic character. That takes an interesting tact and one that sounds like made the book a very good read.

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  38. Thanks for the review. With Big Love and The Book of Mormon musical taking center stage, it's great to know Udall paints on a subtler canvas.

    Barbara
    www.barbarakrichardson.com

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