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Paula Kelly Harline: The Polygamous Wives' Writing Club 

When: Sat., Aug. 2, 2 p.m. 2014
Price: Free
Paula Kelly Harline's The Polygamous Wives' Writing Club is a slim, elegantly composed volume that condenses several decades of history in a remarkably concise fashion. It's drawn from the diaries of 19th-century Mormon pioneer women in polygamous marriages who were outside the main church and political power structure of the time, whose stories have thus yet to be examined closely in studies of the period. But rather than risk the sprawl of structuring the book around long, unedited passages taken verbatim from these women's diaries, Harline makes the aesthetically welcome decision of summarizing and quoting selectively, providing periodic interludes for historical and cultural background purposes. The result is a book that, even to an outsider, proceeds at a pleasant, informative clip and provides illuminative insight into under-examined lives. Many of the accounts in the book reveal a sisterhood among the wives that endured desipte social and political pressures and personal hardships. The book's press release notes that polygamy and the role of women have both been hot topics for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints going back to the 19th century, and that "many would argue that the polygamous wives of the 21st century are nothing like those of the 19th century." For the most part, Harline leaves that issue alone, and instead presents history with little overt editorial comment, much to the book's benefit. (Danny Bowes, City Weekly)

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