Feb 8, 2011

Mormon Enigma

Emma Hale Smith
by Linda Newell and Valeen Avery

Not sure how many of you blog readers know this, but I grew up in the LDS church. I don't recall learning much about Emma beyond that she was Joseph Smith's first wife and founded the Relief Society. So it was with a lot of curiosity that I approached this book. For being a well-researched, historical text, Mormon Enigma is also a surprisingly good read. It's engaging and well-written and didn't bog me down like a lot of historical books tend to do. Although the authors are both members of the church, the book doesn't feel biased but simply presents facts. I appreciated that they only included information that was verified by at least two separately documented sources (including diary entries, letters, public and church records, and news articles). The book encompasses the life of Emma Smith, and tells a lot about early church history, particularly from the perspective of women. Emma was a very strong character and it's hard to imagine living through her trials. She faithfully followed her husband through all kinds of difficulties but bitterly opposed the introduction of polygamy. After her husband's death she raised his children by herself, and one of her sons became the leader of the Reorganized church, which she also joined. An interesting read, if you're curious about early church history or this remarkable woman.

Rating: 4/5 ........ 432 pages, 1984

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  1. I added this book to my TBR list after reading about Emma in Mormon America. She was mentioned a bit here and there and the authors alluded to some controversy about her life and beliefs. Glad to hear that it makes for an interesting read.

  2. You must have mentioned this LDS thing before because I feel like I knew it already. I did a project on Mormonism when I was in eleventh grade, but I don't know much about the other aspects of Joseph Smith's life.

  3. Sounds like an interesting book. I read a little about the early history of the LDS church in The Mental Floss History of the United States and it was really fascinating. I had no idea Smith spent so much time fleeing from people who didn't like his ideas. If he did a lot of fleeing, she must have had to flee with him, poor gal.

  4. I've always wondered about this book and have never read it. I think Emma was a strong woman who is much maligned. Looking at the church from the perspective of the women always fascinates me.

    2 Kids and Tired Books


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