The Lonely Polygamist

The Lonely Polygamist

A Novel

Book - 2010
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Golden Richards, husband to four wives, father to twenty-eight children, is having the mother of all midlife crises. His construction business is failing, his family has grown into an overpopulated mini-dukedom beset with insurrection and rivalry, and he is done in with grief: due to the accidental death of a daughter and the stillbirth of a son, he has come to doubt the capacity of his own heart. Brady Udall, one of our finest American fiction writers, tells a tragicomic story of a deeply faithful man who, crippled by grief and the demands of work and family, becomes entangled in an affair that threatens to destroy his family's future. Like John Irving and Richard Yates, Udall creates characters that engage us to the fullest as they grapple with the nature of need, love, and belonging.Beautifully written, keenly observed, and ultimately redemptive, The Lonely Polygamist is an unforgettable story of an American family--with its inevitable dysfunctionality, heartbreak, and comedy--pushed to its outer limits.
Publisher: New York : W.W. Norton, c2010.
ISBN: 9780393062625
Characteristics: 599 p. ;,25 cm.


From the critics

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Sep 08, 2016

I so thoroughly enjoyed this book, I honestly did not wish for it to end. The plethora of flawed individuals made this character study intriguing. I laughed at times, groaned in heart-rending pain at others. This has been one of my favorite books to date.

Feb 07, 2015

A good 300 page novel trapped in the body of a loose, baggy, long-winded 600 page novel. Fun fact: Brady Udall is part of the prominent political Udall family. Yes, this story is similar to "Big Love."

Jun 21, 2013

This was a very interesting read. Presenting polygamy from all angles - the wives, the husband and the children. What you see is humanity in all its doubts and complexities and people at the end of the day trying to do their best in the environment they find themselves. I felt exhausted by just imagining what it must be like to live in this family. Well worth a read.

jenna_ann Aug 03, 2012

Oh the lonely polygamist begs mercy for his hopeless naivete. I enjoyed this book and would pass it on.

Jul 11, 2012

This was an excellent choice for book club! I liked how it focused in depth on enough characters, but not too many, to give us a view of this family relationship from all angles: Golden, the husband; Trish, the fourth wife; and Rusty, one of the 28 children. Rusty and Trish definitely made the book for me. Their chapters were emotional. Though I don't know that much about polygamy I felt like the characters were written very realistically, because in the end, we are all just humans, complex and many-varied. The flow of the writing was very well done as well, as I often read more YA novels, sometimes adult literary novels are hard to get through, but this one read very easily.

Jul 10, 2012

I was at Boise State University - the very place that Udall teaches - the year this was published, and somehow didn't get around to reading it until now. I am, of course, thoroughly regretting the fact that I did not take one of his writing courses. The book, anyhow, is an unusual and enjoyable take on the midlife crisis, as told from the perspective of Golden Richards (a polygamist in Utah), Trish (Golden's young and restless third wife), and Rusty (one of Golden's 28 lonely kids).

Dec 20, 2011

Wonderful, character-driven novel. I was engrossed in the story and the genuine, human frailties of all the main characters. Highly recommend this book.

Dec 10, 2011

I couldn't get into this book.

It has great reviews, so I was looking forward to being blown away, but I forced myself through about 100 pages and still didn't want to continue on, so I simply returned it.

I'm not sure if it was perhaps my own bias, but I simply had no interest in the main character (the man).
Perhaps if I had gotten further in, where they apparently explore the wives, it could have gripped me.

smc01 Sep 12, 2011

I loved this book - the characters, the writing, the story line. It is at turns laugh-out-loud funny, heartwarming and heartbreaking, and keeps you guessing about what could possibly happen next. Highly recommended.

Jun 24, 2011

The Lonely Polygamist is one of the few novels I have read recently that held my attention. I never had the impression that Udall himself quite knew how to work out the extraordinarily tangled plots he created until almost to the novel's climax, when Rusty detonates the firecracker/bomb. As a result, I could not easily predict the outcome of Golden's midlife crisis and his family's feuds and battles. Like many people, I picked up the book because I am curious about how a polygamist lifestyle might work. I was at first dismayed that it is set in the 1970s, but the more I read, the more I saw the brilliance of Udall's decision. The backdrop of Cold War politics, '70s social liberalism, and the various survivalist cults and ideologies that defined the Southwest during this era was perfect for the novel's plot as it unfolded.

While Beverly is never given her own point of view, I was most drawn to this first wife and how her own sins and foibles ultimately allow her to become human to the rest of her sister-wives and the children. Trish, I felt, was a weak character, even though Udall gives her a point of view. Rose-of-Sharon was so believable in her frailty and her final courage when Rusty is near death. Nola's story, that of her teenage "date" and the nuclear fallout that takes her hair, was probably the one that will stick with me the longest. Golden himself is one of the most original protagonists I have encountered in a long time.

Kudos to Udall for a brilliant, must-read-again novel.

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