Good historical fiction illuminates the past through story. And with Ann Weisgarber’s precise, pitch-perfect writing in THE GLOVEMAKER, you’re in for quite a tale about members of the Mormon community in rugged 1888 Utah; they are believers, but with their own caveats about the church.
I had no idea about the historic events at Mountain Meadows and very little understanding of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ faith; while there is a strong Mormon presence in Arizona, and I lived on a street in downtown Phoenix which had, at its center, a Latter-day Saint’s church –and I have worked with people of Mormon faith/received their door-to-door visits — I was largely in the dark about beliefs and practices. This book, for me, showed the similarities – frankly – of my own religious upbringing in an Evangelical church (“Brother” Nels, “Sister” Deborah; witnessing to others, etc.), and the lengths to which some supporters will go to defend their church and its beliefs.
As the book says:
“People did such things. Covering up was what folks had a tendency to to do when the truth didn’t make them look good.”
I was impressed by the author’s deep and encompassing research while not being a Mormon, herself. But there is more to THE GLOVEMAKER than religion. It actually is not heavy-handed, so don’t let that deter you. During the story’s time-span of only about five days, you’ll come to love Deborah, Samuel and Nels through their separate narratives and letters. The latter part of the book really hums along with questions of moral conscience, making the reader guess how personal decisions will impact the characters’s lives. And the harsh setting will have you wondering how people survived in the late nineteenth century.
I also loved this author’s first two books – The Personal History of Rachel Dupree (to be a movie optioned by and starring Viola Davis), and The Promise. I can’t wait to read her next novel!
(A version of Melissa Crytzer Fry’s review of THE GLOVEMAKER by Ann Weisgarber was published at GoodReads on Mar 08, 2019. It is reposted here with the permission of the reviewer.)