Surprisingly sympathetic

The Lonely Polygamist by Brady Udall
When a midlife crisis hits a man with 4 wives… Watch Out.
This is gonna be messy.
And yes, my friends, it certainly is.
While I felt rather sorry for poor Golden Richards (he of the 4 wives), this book was entertaining beyond all possible expectation, which made me almost grateful that he was having such a difficult time of it. Because, man, what a story.
There’s even a diaper-wearing dog. And a hearse that’s the family car.
Several times I laughed out loud, right as I was driving and listening to the audiobook. And once I got a bit teary. It’s a wonderful mix of the terrors (and comforts) of family life, the lies people live, their secret longings, the people who help us through the day (and some of the dumb little things that help a person through the day), and the ridiculousness that sometimes shapes a person’s life.
So Golden, husband to 4, falls in love with a woman not his wife. A bit of a complication, eh? Meanwhile, his wives are fomenting discontent, which causes the umpteen zillion children to get testy with each other, and then Golden—who wants only to avoid conflict—has to try to deal with the whole mess, which he attempts to do by dodging it. (When he hides in the children’s closed-up playhouse, sipping mescal, that’s when you know things have really hit the skids.)
We get to see Golden’s point of view, as well as those of his 4th wife (“Mother #4”) and one of his sons (Rusty, the “bad” one, who’s always in trouble, whose viewpoint made me laugh more than anything). And then there’s an omniscient view that pops in occasionally to give a wider perspective.
These people just come to life.
Who’d’a thunk I’d have sympathy for an adulterous polygamist? Brady Udall, you literary wonder, you’ve done this amazing thing.
(Additional note: This was one of those audiobooks that’s so good, it spoils other audiobooks for a person for a while. I had to test-drive two of them before I could settle on my next audiobook.)
The audiobook: 23.25 hours, read by David Aaron Baker

6 thoughts on “Surprisingly sympathetic

  1. I've seen this book all over the place but never really took the time to read about it. Your review makes me want to immediately go get it! I think I'll look it up at the library this week. Thanks!

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