“an unexpected path…”
July 13th, 2011
“I write in the midnight hours of a summer night between feedings of my baby daughter, and just have to tell you how much I enjoyed your book. [As] I read The Sister Wife, I was really excited to find something that did not follow an expected path … I guess one of the things I’m grappling with is how some issues in our lives go unresolved – God chooses not to resolve them (for a time, sometimes a long time) – and that lack of resolution is a reality in which we walk and learn and grow.
“Mary Rose’s relationship with Gabriel and Bronwyn became so complicated and entangled as she struggled with polygamy and following what was touted as truth. I appreciate that the nature of her relationship (and Bronwyn’s and Enid’s) with Gabriel cannot have all the loose ends tied up – and I guess that’s what keeps me so engaged. I’m looking forward to seeing how you weave redemption in there (I think you mentioned that somewhere in your blog but I can’t find it with my eyes blurring together at the moment).” -- Excerpt posted with the writer’s permission.
I’ve had an abundance of reader letters lately, which I love, even those that ask hard questions.
The letter I just quoted especially touched my heart because the reader “got” the underlying theme of The Sister Wife (and that which is also in The Betrayal). It also helped blunt my dismay at the content of a far different letter that landed in my inbox the same day, accusatory in tone, it was written by someone with a far different take on The Sister Wife.
For those readers who might wonder at the difference between adultery and polygamy, I’m including excerpts from my response (below), hoping it will give you greater insight into the historical setting of both novels…and also a look into my writer’s heart.
“Thank you for writing. I’m truly grateful that you brought up your concerns about The Sister Wife because it gives me the opportunity to answer those concerns.
“First, I would like to say that the theme in both The Sister Wife and in The Betrayal is that of God’s incredible mercy, forgiveness, and grace — gifts that are ours in abundance no matter what our wrongdoing may be, past or present.
“Bronwyn lived in a time (more than 150 years ago) and place (isolated frontier) where polygamy was openly taught as right and good. Men were told that the more wives they took, the higher their place in heaven would be. Women, though some were appalled at the idea, had no one to turn to for safe passage out of the territory or the means (as in money and resources) to escape. More than that, they were taught to be obedient to husbands and church leaders. What you refer to as adultery actually was not in Bronwyn’s eyes, or in the eyes of the church. She had been married or “sealed” to Gabe (who in my opinion is the sinner here) as his second wife, so the war within her was one of “who or what is right?” — the dictates of the prophet and president of the church, who ordered the polygamous union, or her loyalty to her best friend Mary Rose, whom she’d sworn never to hurt through such an action with Gabe.
“I showed Bronwyn’s ’sin’ (if we can call it that, and I’m not sure we can), from her point of view as someone not yet fully aware of the extent of her wrongdoing. She only knows that her actions, especially the betrayal of her best friend, leave her feeling empty and guilty. She longs to be loved and thinks that Gabe can fill that heart-emptiness. She has a long journey ahead to discover that emptiness can only be filled by the One who loves her as no human being can…”
As The Betrayal release date approaches (July 26) and reviews are posted, I look forward to hearing from you. I read every letter, and try to respond to each–though please don’t grow impatient if you don’t hear from me right away. If letters are sent to me privately, I will ask your permission before publishing them online.
May God’s grace, peace, and love be with you all this day …