Skip to main content

Featured Post

Spring means Hope | Weekly Snapshot

Hello you guys! I seem to have forgotten how to blog with everything going on around here. I'm sure I'm not the only one. Hope you all are coping okay?

Last week Things finally got to some semblance of a routine this week and I've been finally feeling better and in charge of my emotional faculties. I've taken over one of the upstairs bedrooms and set it up as my office-cum-homeschool room. In other words, the room is a big mess, but both my daughter and I are able to navigate the room fine as everything in the room has a meaning in our own brains. We're both very organized that way. I've been using a sit-stand desk for my work laptop and I'm a little glad that I got to try this system finally. When I'm not working, I'm helping the girl with her letters, numbers, or fun activities. Trust me, this is difficult but we worked through the system this week, and think we have it under control. My father-in-law watches my son during the day as the little ma…

Review: Hidden Wives by Claire Avery

Rachel and Sara are fifteen, an age by when they should be married. In Utah's secret Blood of the Lamb community, that is. When the book begins, their father is taking them to see the prophet to decide who they should marry. Sara is to be wedded to her uncle, while Rachel has received sixteen "testimonies". (For a marriage to be fixed, a male should receive a testimony or a message from God to marry someone.) Rachel's sixteen testimonies send the same message to both her father, who believes Rachel is a slut, and to the prophet, who driven by lust, takes more time to decide Rachel's case.

Now that was a powerful start!

Their community practices polygamy. Their father has four wives, and many children. In order to remember which child belonged to which wife, he devised a naming system that each wife name her children using the same starting character. Each night, the wives take turns in bed with their husband.
A woman's purpose or calling is to be a fertile ground for her husband's seed, creating a multitude of saints on earth.
Now that made me sick!

Hidden Wives was a very engaging read filled with some strong characters. Sara is outraged at her match. She is not as pretty as her sister, and occasionally feels sad about that. Rachel is a devout. She considers any departure from her faith as blasphemous, and while Sara becomes increasingly distant from her beliefs, Rachel prays even more than usual. When Luke comes to their town because his father wants to convert to the Blood of the Lamb faith, Rachel finds herself falling for him. His hostility towards their religion blanches both Rachel and Sara, but soon Rachel makes it her mission to convert him.

I liked Rachel least of all. It could be because I have a low tolerance for people who are so blinded by their faith that they do not see reason. (Now, before you throw tomatoes at me, let me assure you that there are a number of very devout people among those I love dearly.) Rachel was sometimes... impossible. I felt very exasperated when I found her attributing everything to God, be it good or bad, so when things do go wrong for her, I could hardly feel sympathetic. When Sara was destined to be the fifth wife of her uncle, all Rachel can wish is that she herself becomes the first wife of someone. Sara, on the other hand, was mature. She was quick to reject what goes against her convictions and is more in control of her observance and instinctual skills. When her father beats her, she spends a whole night cursing him. But Rachel only sits back with acceptance.

Hidden Wives was a riveting read. I found myself coming back to it every time I took a break. Still, I had some really minor issues. At times, I found the writing jerky and almost discontinuous, but without taking away my enjoyment of the book. There is one other character who gets suddenly introduced in the latter half of the book. I didn't quite see the point of that because it seemed a little too convenient and unbelievable for me. I also felt that the beginning of the second half was shaky, compared to the rest of the book. Sara and Rachel do things I wouldn't expect of any fifteen-year old who hasn't stepped outside their own community.

Hidden Wives shows humanity at its worst and its best. When one of the wives of a man dies, the remaining wives are serving the men eggs and biscuits, over which they discuss what to do with the body. Everything they do has to be kept from the authorities, so lies are rampant. In addition, the believers pull out their children from their regular school and instead assign them to a single large class that teaches them the tenets of their faith.

The authors have touched upon a lot of themes without overwhelming the reader. At the core is the idea of how much faith one should have in a religion. Along with that, the reader gets a taste of mother-daughter and father-daughter relations at its worst. Child abuse. Man and woman as husband and wife and in a polygamous relation. Rape and lust. Role of women in society. I definitely recommend this read. There is a lot I learned, but mostly I understood how certain customs persist over generations, and how polygamy is still practiced in Utah and neighboring states.

About the author
Claire Avery is a pseudonym for a writing team of two sisters. Mari Hilburn, an attorney, and Michelle Poché, a screenwriter. They grew up in a Mel-Gibson-Catholic-fundamentalist type of home. Their father's religious dogma gave them a a weird childhood, but at least he didn't force them to marry men much older than them or practice polygamy. It was their strange upbringing that inspired them to write Hidden Wives. You can read more about this here.

Check out this book published by Macmillan @ Goodreads, BetterWorldBooks, Amazon, B&N. This book releases on June 8th (That's today!)

I received this book for free from the author for review.


I also just finished the book and found it very engaging. Today I kept saying only one more chapter, but kept going back. I didn't dislike Rachel as much as you did as I have known some people who are blinded by faith and have learned how to cope with them, but I did find myself wanting to shake her many times during the novel.

I am very glad to hear you loved Summer At Tiffany's I am eagerly awaiting its arrival at the library!
Tales of Whimsy said…
Wow. Sounds good. And like I would yell at the book allot.
bermudaonion said…
I know this is strange, but I love to read about polygamy for some odd reason. I think I always wonder if I'd be strong enough to escape it. Your review is fantastic!
Ash said…
This sounds like an amazing book but I could see myself getting easily frustrated with it. Great review!
Anonymous said…
This sounds really good. I'm facinated by polygamy for some reason. Maybe it's from watching too much Big Love on HBO. Thanks for the review!
Ria said…
Sounds like this could be a fascinating book to read! If I can find a copy, I'll definitely check it out.
Like Kathy, this may sound strange but I love polygamy books! This one sounds good, it is going on the wishlist!
Athira said…
Roseann, I read that so many readers kept coming back to this book without being able to take a decent break. LOL! Isn't that awesome! And yes, you should read Summer at Tiffany - it is totally good!

Juju, LOL! You should read this!

Kathy, thank you! I don't know if I am fascinated by polygamy. I think not, but that's mainly because I grew up hearing about it that it feels absolutely horrific to me.

Ash, yeah, I did get frustrated with Rachel so much! I wanted to go out there and give her a lecture.

Julie, you will like this one then!

Ria, you should! I can't wait to hear your thoughts, should you decide to read it.

Jen, I sure hope you like it! I can agree that this book is fascinating!

Popular posts from this blog

Hell-Heaven by Jhumpa Lahiri (Short Fiction Review)

I first read Jhumpa Lahiri years ago, when her Interpreter of Maladies was making a huge buzz. At the time, I didn't catch any of the buzz, but for some reason, when I saw the book on the shelf at the store I was browsing in, I felt it just might be a decent read. Funnily, I read the entire short story collection without complaining about it, but for some reason, I cannot read any collection anymore without agonizing over its disjoint nature.

I did enjoy Interpreter of Maladies, but I did get bothered by the thread of loneliness and infidelity and distrust that laced through the stories. For that reason, I have been reluctant to read Unaccustomed Earth. However, when I came across Hell-Heaven at the NewYorker - a free short story from her book, I decided to go ahead and read it. I can't resist the pull of stories set in India or featuring Indian characters, and it is that same aspect that hooked me throughout this story.

In Hell-Heaven, the narrator contemplates the relations…

Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

Maybe that’s what religion is, hurling yourself off a cliff and trusting that something bigger will take care of you and carry you to the right place.
Bernadette Fox has a reputation. While her husband and her daughter Bee love her, there's barely anyone else who share the sentiment. Her neighbor Audrey loves to gossip mean things about her with her close friend, Soo-Lin. The other parents of kids at Bee's school look down on Bernadette because she doesn't involve herself in school affairs. Bernadette herself goes out of her way to avoid company.

And then one day, Bee comes home with an excellent report card and asks for her reward - a family trip to Antarctica. The very plan throws Bernadette into a panic but she has no other option. She hires a virtual assistant, based out of India to take care of all her demands, including getting prescriptions at her local pharmacy, doing her online shopping and taking care of some of the logistics of her trip. (It is ridiculous! Bern…

The Lottery by Shirley Jackson (Short Fiction review)

With the Hunger Games hype that engulfed us last week, it was hard to avoid all the discussion of similar works that existed. Of the many titles that I came across, two stood out particularly - a short story called The Lottery and a Japanese novel (and movie) called Battle Royale (which I'm reading right now and just cannot put down). The novel will be fodder for another post, so for now, I just want to rave about the awesomeness that was The Lottery.

In contemporary America, villagers across the country are gathering on the 27th of June (and some a day earlier) for an annual event called the Lottery. Children, women, men, all come to the main square of their village or town, where the lottery master keeps a black box full of paper chips. One of these chips is marked has a special mark on it to identify the winner (the person who draws that chip). Not everyone draws however, but only the head of the family. Husbands are viewed as the head of their families/households, and if the …