The Lonely Polygamist, by Brady Udall

February 22, 2011

Brady Udall's novel is an exercise in surprise. Golden Richards, the Mormon patriarch—with four wives and 28 children—is a tragicomic character. He has stumbled into plural marriage like a blind man and is gradually waking up to the reality of his own unhappiness when he falls in love with another woman, even while his other wives and their children are in a state of chaos and disintegration. In this sprawling, fun-loving but deeply felt novel, Udall does not turn to easy answers. He explores both the practical and spiritual dimensions of plural marriage, calling into question conventional wisdom at every turn.