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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Bishop's Wife: A Novel

OOOOOOHHHHH. This book was super hot at Book Expo this year -- big banner and everything. So yeah, I got my grubby fingers on it when it came out. This is Mette Ivie Harrison's The Bishop's Wife.

Linda Wallheim is a woman who holds an unnamed post that she didn't ask for. Much is expected out of her -- love, acceptance, a shoulder to cry on, a sympathetic ear, and lots of fresh baked breads. She is the bishop's wife. Her calling is that of her husband, and she obeys out of duty and love. When Jared Helm, a member of their ward, comes knocking on their door one morning claiming that his wife has run away and left him and their five year old daughter, a chain of events starts rolling that brings to light the dark secrets of their family and a strange parallel to an earlier event that will only soon come to light. While new relationships bloom, older ones come to a close, and what happens behind closed doors may surprise you far beyond your imagination.

We all know my ridiculous obsession with Mormons, so when I saw this book at BEA this year I almost flipped my lid. A thriller involving potential murder AND my religious fascination? Absolutely. I'll take it. Unfortunately, I had to wait until it was released to get it from the library, but it was well worth the wait. It was a super intriguing story, and one I found myself utterly engrossed with. There were many a late night up reading by candlelight. (It was a lamp.)

First of all, the first-person narrator of the story, Linda, was a fantastic character. She had a very subtle character arc throughout the entire book, but ultimately she stayed steady in her beliefs and her convictions, and she was a bit of a radical feminist underneath her religious exterior. She supported her husband, Kurt, as the bishop, and she was a very strong bishop's wife, but she also had firm beliefs in life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Her doggedness in pursuing finding out what happened to her neighbor, Carrie, whether she ran away or was killed by her husband, was the driving force of the story.

However, the additional side story of another potential woman in their ward missing -- this time for decades -- added to the intensity. While I would argue that two such stories happening to the same people would be an unbelievable plot point, Harrison writes in such a way that is not only entirely plausible but really quite believable. I found the story leaving me at the edge of my seat and turning the pages as quickly as I could as I walked down the street. Reading while walking – the ultimate sign of a good book.

I loved this book, and picking it up over the weekend was the best choice I made for a chilly winter afternoon. It was well worth the nine month wait.

For purchase below. 

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