Sunday, August 29, 2010

Hidden Wives by Claire Avery

Genre: Fiction
Copyright: 2010
Pages: 336
Book Source: Borrowed from Alaine

Synopsis: 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 Blood of the Lamb polygamist 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.

I read a review on Staci's blog Life in the Thumb and knew immediately I had to read Hidden Wives and was fortunate enough to be able to borrow it from Alaine Queen of Happy Endings.

Hidden Wives was a compelling read; intense, gut-wrenching, heart breaking and enlightening. The imagery is vivid, the characters are believable (some unfortunately so)  and the story while fictionalised is agonisingly real. I spent a lot of this book angry and sick to my stomach but I also felt hope. Hidden Wives explores many of the deplorable practices occurring in the Blood of the  Lamb sect but it also restored my faith in the inate goodness of many.

My interest in polygamy was stirred by the tv show 'Big Love' which I now realise shows polygamy through rose tinted glasses although I'm sure life on the compound is portrayed a little more realistically. There are really no adequate words to describe the physical illness and horror I felt at reading the things suffered by the young girls and women in the Blood of the Lamb cult under the banner of so-called religion. I believe it is nothing short of evil to cloak abuse, incest, brainwashing and child marriages in the robes of 'religion.'

My skin crawled and I actually felt nauseous reading about girls as young as 13 being forced to marry men old enough to be their grandfathers. Hidden Wives is the story of sisters Rachel and Sara. Sara has questioned the indoctrination in their community for quite a while but Rachel has complete faith in the values spouted by Prophet Silver. The physical and emotional abuse suffered by Sara and Rachel was difficult to read, but as Rachel falls in love with Luke and Sara becomes friends with Irvin, a coloured boy with Echolalia, my hopes were raised that life could be different and better for all of them.

Sometimes it's the stories with the most difficult subject matter that leave an indelible imprint on your heart ... I urge you to read Hidden Wives.

Claire Avery is actually a sister writing team who have a background in a fundamentalist Catholic religion.

Visit the Claire Avery website to find out more about this amazing writing team.

This month on The Eclectic Reader one lucky reader can win The Sky Is Everywhere OR Mockingjay OR By Fire, By Water. Check this blog post for details. International entrants welcome.


  1. Horrible is the only word I can think of, would I dare to read it? Do they get out? I sure hope so, cos that life

  2. Although the subject interests me, I have yet to read any books on it (fiction or non).

  3. I'm not sure if anyone has recommended it to you yet but you should read Escape by Carolyn Jessop if you enjoyed this book. It is a nonfiction memoir about her experiences living in a polygomous community. Very scary! Great review!

  4. What a gripping and emotional review. This book is wonderful and really exposes what these children and women go through!! Thanks for the shout out too!!!!

  5. You are right, it is a fantastic book although it is deeply disturbing.

  6. Wow! Great review. I read Escape (mentioned above) a long time ago.

  7. I heard about this book in a few places. Not sure if I'm ready to read it, because people in these situations just break my heart. Excellent review.

  8. +JMJ+

    My own "interest" (for lack of a better word) in polygamy can also be traced to HBO's Big Love, which has excellent writing, acting and production values. I wouldn't say it shows polygamy through rose-tinted glasses, though, as the Henricksens had a really rocky first season and are still slightly dysfunctional; but it does show how polygamy might work in the "real world." (Bill doesn't go after young girls, etc.)

    On the other hand, real-life stories and books like Hidden Wives are rightfully chilling and provide a good sed contra. I've been wanting to read Hidden Wives since I first saw the video you've embedded. Thanks for the review as well.

  9. Hi Samantha, yes Escape by Carolyn Jessop has been recommended by another friend. Have added it to my tbr pile. I've recently read a very moving YA story on polygamy called The Chosen One ... have you read it?

  10. Enbrethiliel ~ read Hidden Wives or The Chosen One or Escape (non-fiction) and you will probably agree that Big Love has a "rose-tinted" sheen. Not many people in the "real world" would be able to afford to house plural wives in their own separate household.


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