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