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.
- 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?