Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Shattered Dreams: My Life as a Polygamist Wife: Review

Shattered Dreams: My Life as a Polygamist Wife by Irene Spencer

Irene Spencer was raised as a fundamentalist Mormon, in a polygamous family. Her family never had much, scratching around often on the edge of poverty as the logistics of feeding multiple families failed the ideal of polygamy.

However, Irene was determined to be a polygamous wife, and live the Principle. She was the second wife of Verlan LeBaron, and spent the next 20-something years scratching out her own existence, as she realised that polygamy wasn’t all the fundamentalists cracked it up to be.

Irene’s story is fascinating. Not only as an insight into this strange branch of the Mormon faith, but as a second wife, a mother to 14 children, one of whom died at birth, and finally, a woman in her own right.

There’s a lot of hardship here, as Verlan’s family grows exponentially with each wife, and what resources there are, are stretched and stretched and stretched again.

The best thing about the book, I think, is that Irene doesn’t spare herself. She’s no saint, she knows it and she candidly writes about her struggles and battles with her jealousy and frustration with Verlan.

A fascinating read.

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