Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Book Review: His Favorite Wife, by Susan Ray Schmidt

I got this book yesterday at about 2 pm. I was busy until 9 pm, went to bed, read my scriptures, picked up Susan's book, and didn't fall asleep until 4 am. I finished the book. I just devoured it.

I ordered this book after reading a post on Viva Ned Flanders about Krakauer's book and being reminded of a quick news story I'd seen on TV about a woman (Susan) who'd written a book. She was commenting, as I recall, on Rena Chynoweth's listing on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted.

And I thought, "hey! I think a girl named Susan, who was married to Ervil LeBaron's brother lived across the street from me." So I checked it out and sure enough, she was the girl across the street with all the kids.

Memory is funny. I thought she was 27, had seven kids, and the oldest was a boy. She was 27, had six kids, and the oldest was a girl. I honestly don't know why we didn't become better friends, we were both young single mothers. I think I must have looked down on her, even shunned her, I don't know.

I'm pretty ashamed of myself after reading her story. You guys, this woman paid her dues in the school of life early and hard.

I've read a couple of books about fundamentalists, besides Krakauer's book. The thing that struck me the most is how much those men neglected their families' physical welfare. I remember one girl writing about taking onion sandwiches to school. Susan and her children did without in similar manners.

I'm rambling, but I recommend this book. For one thing, she tells some of the history in Krakauer (I cannot remember the name, it's early)--the missionary problem overseas after the war. It looks like they're all offshoots, related to each other, somehow. Oh, and here's a teaser: she almost married Ervil LeBaron. You'll want to know how that went. She was a pretty smart and strong 14 year old.

But more, she tells a love story. She loved her husband and he loved her. He was screwed up, she was a kid, but she loved him. She tells their story with unflinching honesty and expertise.

You guys, really good book. And I sort of knew her. Isn't life just so strange?


Elizabeth-W said...

Thanks for the review! I'm always looking to add something to my reading list. That polygamy stuff is just so, so....I can't think of the right word.
I'm reading 'Peace Like a River' by Leif Enger, and am very much enjoying the narrator's way of talking to the reader.

Barb said...

This is the first I have heard of the book. You do have an interesting connection. One day it hit me how little I knew about the man who lived across me named Dick. He had lived there for years alone after the woman who I think was his girlfriend moved out. Sometimes I have looked at houses or all the cars in traffic and think about all the lives going on in the houses or the people in the cars and their lives. I think at the same time I was reflecting on Dick, I thought about one of my cousins who I have looked up to my whole life as she is a few years older and so talented, pretty, outgoing, and nice. However, I realized how very little I know about her. We would just see each other at Grandmas or on the couple visits to their home. Both were out of state from me. I tried emailing her for a bit and she was one of my best cousins for emailing back but we did not get close like I was hoping. This may be due to the fact that I was not using an email with a password and I told her that my parents could read it. Now, I have my own accounts with passwords, but it seems awkward mentioning to her now. I figure she does not want me for a confident. I am the only LDS in my family and I guess I am just glad that nobody shuns me.

Well, that is quite a tangent especially as I know nil about the book other than what you said. But you got me thinking.....

Did you say 14. I know people mature at different ages. I was such a baby still at 14.

Anonymous said...

I've read the book and so have some friends. We all agree that it's an amazing story, very well written and easy to read. It perfect for book clubs too; the resulting discussions would be fun and intesting. Susan must be an amazing woman. I wish her well in publicizing her book. I wouldn't be surprized if this book ends up a best seller.

annegb said...

I hope it's a best seller because she deserves something for living through what she did. Didn't the story of when she had the baby at home with her sister assisting fry your brain? I was so mad at her sister I could spit.

I remember her husband coming to the door once (I must have been outside) and hearing the kids yell, "daddy! daddy!" I was impressed because obviously they loved each other. Although of course he should have been there for them.

Everybody has a story, don't they?

Lisa M. said...

I'll have to pick it up..

I am so sorry I missed you, I PROMISE, I am not a bozark!

You're a great Person, Miss A.

DO you know, that my middle name is the same as your first?

Just a bit-o-trivia

Anonymous said...

We live in Sandy, Utah and this book was left on our doorstep oneday recently, along with many of my neighbors. At firts I thought, WHAT THE HECK! But, I read it anyway. WOW!!!! I am so glad that something told me to read it. I was amazed and facinated by the courage that Susan had, she is an amazingly strong woman. I believe she thought she was doing what she was suppose to be doing, that this is what "GOD" had planned for her life. I felt like crying when she gave birth to her littleone and then was dropped off at a broken down trailer in the middle of nowhere to basically fend for herself and her child. Verlan, on the other hand was a week FOLLOWER, whom only was concerned with the number of wives and children he could add to his HEAVENLY SO CALLED CROWN. What a sick bunch of people those LaBaron were and continue to be. I kept thinking that she was a target of EVIL ERVIL, I like to think that GOD spared her so that she could learn the truth about what was really going on in the so called TRUE CHURCH. Susan if you read this just know that you are my HERO, god bless you and yours. I also was interested in the fact that many of his wives left him as well as Susans own mom left that lifestyle too. I felt sad for her basically losing her brother that she was so close to JAY, do they still talk or is she cut off from that part of her family. Lillie seemed like she was a nice person too. I feel for all of them. But if anything this book opens up alot of questions concerning the FLDS and their saga, most of these woman know truly at some point in their lives that this is wrong! I believe that. They are just not shure how to get out. MAYBE! At any rate great book.
Stacie Parker