The Bishop’s Wife – by Mette Ivie Harrison

What does a knock at your front door early in the morning mean to you: curiosity or alarm? What if you knew a couple from church and one day the wife was reported missing, or her husband said she had deliberately left her husband and daughter the night before? What have you already decided?

So begin’s Mette Ivie Harrison’s contemporary exploration of the world of ward politics, judgements, snap assumptions and above all everyday people trying to make sense of the mess and joy of life, and each other.

I’m usually hesitant to read contemporary LDS fiction novels, as I have read too many which have been formulaic, stilted, in desperate search of a plot, or just painful or boring to read. Thankfully, The Bishop’s Wife suffers from none of these struggles; it’s an engaging read, with a compelling mystery that had me puzzling about the plot as I went about my day, and sneaking a couple of pages in at every opportunity.

I have read many of Mette Ivie Harrison’s non-contemporary novels (such as Mira, Mirror and The Princess and The Hound) and while I am a happily devoted fan of the fantasy/sci-fi/fable genres, The Bishop’s Wife was a very welcome and skilled immersion into contemporary fiction. In particular, I appreciated how the title character, Linda, was not painted as a paragon of a woman, or endowed with increased spirituality or discernment simply because she was the bishop’s wife, or the main character. Linda struggles with the demands put on her by loved ones and irritating people in her ward, she makes snap judgments and really dislikes some people – exactly how real people (how we) can be in our lives. The ongoing complications and effects of situations from long ago still resonate in Linda’s life, and the difficulties and rash decisions Linda makes are not sugar coated, unbelievable or unrealistic. I also appreciated how the patriarchal structure of the church is presented, and the ongoing struggles different characters have with the interpretation thereof in many areas of faith and life.

The Bishop’s Wife is a mystery story, but is also an honest exploration of how women can be pulled in too many directions by personal history, the best of intentions, sick individuals and loved ones. This is not a light, fluffy, Disney fairy-tale story, but it’s all the more honest, compelling and relatable because of it.

Recommended to:

  • Anyone looking for a believable, non-perfect LDS woman lead character in a contemporary tale
  • Those who like mysteries (especially those that aren’t easily solved)
  • Those who like more reality than Disney in their fiction

Not recommended for:

  • Those looking for a light, fluffy read

Rated: M – Some themes of grief, marital strife, spousal/child abuse, emotional abuse

Note: My copy of The Bishop’s Wife was given free to me by Mette Ivie Harrison for review purposes.

What is an LDS novel you have enjoyed? Do you enjoy contemporary and/or LDS fiction – why or why not? Who is your favourite believable character in fiction? Have you read Mette Ivie Harrison before?

About Kellie

(Blog Editor) lives way on the other side of the planet in her native Australia and gives thanks for the internet regularly. She loves books, her boys, panna cotta, collecting words, being a redhead and not putting things in order of importance when listing items. She credits writing at selwynssanity.blogspot.com as a major contributing factor to surviving her life with sanity mostly intact, though her (in)sanity level is subject to change without warning.

8 thoughts on “The Bishop’s Wife – by Mette Ivie Harrison

  1. I don’t read LDS fiction. Am I missing something useful or enjoyable? There is so much good stuff out there to read; I fear I’ll waste time on LDS fiction. Has that changed?

  2. Only one thing missing in your review, where can this book be purchased? I looked at Deseret Book’s website and it’s not listed (yet).

    My wife is Relief Society President. When there’s a knock at the door or a phone call, I know it is for her. I can now understand her trepidation at answering the phone when I was bishop.

  3. Wait a minute! Too late for my wife’s birthday. This isn’t available until December 30. Something else you missed in your review.

    Enter to win a copy on Goodreads.

  4. I’m looking forward to reading this when it comes out in December–I was recently at the American Library Association conference and I noticed this was one of the main new books being promoted by Random House for this fall. Way to go Mette!

    Lisa–there are a lot of great books that are written by LDS authors and/or about LDS themes. If there is a particular genre that you like, there is probably something great that you could try. For more literary fiction, I love Angela Hallstrom’s Bound on Earth, Jennifer Quist’s Love Letters of the Angels of Death, Jack Harrell’s short story collection A Sense of Order, and Margaret Blair Young’s Heresies of Nature. I could keep going. The blogs A Motley Vision and Dawning of a Brighter Day have a lot of reviews of LDS fiction and often feature interviews with authors as well

  5. Kel, I really want to read this. I hope that even though it’s being released Dec. 30 she can get enough nominations that it will be considered at the Whitneys. I know it’s getting a big national release but it would be nice if it had come local buzz as well.

  6. I read an ARC of this that a coworker picked up for me at BEA because she knew I’m friends with Mette. I don’t recommend friends’ books that I don’t like, so when I say I loved it, I mean it, friendship aside. It’s not LDS fiction from the LDS market–it’s a mystery that happens to be about LDS people. There’s so little of that out there–Orson Scott Card’s Lost Boys and Folk of the Fringe are the only ones I can think of that openly star LDS people, and those were published in the 90s.

    Highly recommended. You should be able to get it anywhere books are sold (*except*, perhaps, Deseret Book)–like your local bookstore and online–when it’s out.

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