Review: Hidden Wives by Claire Avery


HIDDEN WIVES follows the journey of two young girls forced to grow up in a polygamist community where religion is distorted to justify rampant abuse, incest, misogyny and the taking of child brides.

Fifteen-year-old Sara and her beautiful sister, Rachel, are too young to legally drive a car, but are approaching spinsterhood in Utah’s secret polygamist Blood of the Lamb community. Having long since reached the “age of preparedness,” they will soon be married off to much older men selected by the hidden sect’s revered Prophet.

As Sara, chosen to become her uncle’s fifth wife, grows more distraught over her impending incestuous marriage, she begins to scrutinize the faith she has followed blindly her entire life.

But for Rachel, who will be married to one of the many powerful community leaders vying for her hand, disobeying the Prophet means eternal damnation. Her friendship with the newest member of the community, the young and handsome Luke, starts as an attempt to save his agnostic soul, but ends with the pair falling helplessly in love. When Rachel is forbidden to see him, her absolute faith in the Prophet is severely tested.

When Rachel’s future husband is finally announced, violence erupts, and the girls must find the strength to escape the only life they have ever known… before it’s too late.

© 2010 Claire Avery

My Review:

Secret weddings, forbidden love, sister wives, incest, mystery, and suicide are just some the ingredients that make this novel so fascinating and a “must-read”.  Claire Avery (two sisters) are not from the fundamentalist LDS church, but they certainly have done extensive research into this unspoken sect of the LDS faith.  Woven with the history of Joseph Smith‘s religion (Latter-Day Saints) and a contemporary story is what makes this book magical.  I could not put this book down and connected with both sisters, Rachel and Sarah.  Rachel is the more devout follower of the faith, while Sarah begins to question a faith that chooses her husband at 15 years old and determines her future.  Rachel represents women who do not challenge their faith, as she strives hard to be a model for others.  She views her struggles and questions with the faith as not being enough of a believer and thus accepts whatever is chosen for her.  However, Sarah wonders what life is like outside the walls of their secluded community and begins to see the world differently as she exposes herself to books (which are forbidden to be read).

Luke and Irvin are minor characters in this intriguing story, however their impact in the lives of these sister’s is monumental.  Will Sarah marry her uncle?  Will Rachel marry the Prophet or run away with Luke?  Will the sister wives ever escape?  These are questions that as a reader I had.  While giving each character opportunity to develop and for the storyline to progress, this book leaves no stone unturned.

This is a book that I HIGHLY recommend to anyone!  It is one of my all time favorites and I cannot wait to meet both sister authors, who are visiting our book club in October!  And…there just may be a sequel to this book….can you tell how excited I am???

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