©2007 Irene Spencer; (P)2007 Tantor
"Engrossing....An intense story." (Kirkus)
"Nothing short of astonishing....Emotional and shocking." (Publishers Weekly)
Other reviews have called this a long-winded whining. I didn't see it that way. Irene Spencer sprinkles humor in with tragedy. Her account reveals her own weakness as much as the weakness of those she lived with. She is both angry and empathetic. There is a sense of settled understanding even in the midst of chaos.
I wouldn't recommend this as entertainment, but it was a fascinating insight into fundamentalist Mormon poligamy. It teaches broader themes as it recounts the story of one woman.
this was a fabulously written, revealing and personal narrative. I appreciated the honestness and openness of the author. I highly recommend it.
I'm a bibliophile since early childhood. Love speculative fiction, odd premises, mystery novels that teach about different places and times.
I've always been fascinated with the understanding of the bully/victim relationship and how it spins not from one but from both parties. It's cautionary for me.
This book is frustrating to me, because of how deeply this woman buys into a world that is clearly not working for her. She's tragic but she clings rather thoroughly to her tragedy and never catches that she has a part in it. You don't see her growing so much as complying. She keeps feeling used and abused, but she clings to the problem so hard there are really are no answers for her. I found that tiring.
Could'nt turn it off! One second I was totally exasperated with the author for putting up with the ^*&%$ she put up with, the next second I was feeling her pain and could understand. My only criticism was that I would have liked to have heard more---like what was going on with the other wives. The book was very detailed about the first half of her life, and then kind of sped through the second half.Definately facsinating and enjoyable to listen to.
I cannot begin to tell you how fascinating and puzzling polygamy is. I was wrought with curiousity throughout the whole book and was of course in awe of the lifestyle as many others are when learning about their culture. It is a side of society that people still know very little about.
I can't imagine even with all the details of this woman's life how difficult it must have been to be born into this culture. Unfortunately, her focus on the undying sacrifices and un-ending pain and suffering associated with her lifestyle quickly became redundant. The entire book felt like a poor me memoir and although it sounds impossible, she had many many opportunities to leave that life, which she eventually did towards middle age. It should have been sooner rather than later; but it felt as though she enjoyed the misery, pain and suffering. There comes a point where the details of her unfortunate circumstances go from evoking sympathy from the reader to frustration towards the 12th chapter. If I had a search feature, I could quite honestly count the many times where she starts crying uncontrollably while throwing herself on the bed to about 25-30 times. So much so that she admits into the story how sick her husband was with her constant crying. By the end, you will be sick of her crying too.
Decent story, difficult character to like.
I am fascinated by this subject, and feel a great deal of empathy towards those whose lives have been impacted by polygamy and other such cults. Frankly this woman inspired none of this, the book is simply a catalogue of droning, whining, completely self-centered and painfully repetitive complaints.
Not a single other person has their character fleshed out in any way, including the true victims ... her dozen poor emotionally, physically deprived ad neglected children. Nobody forced her into this situation, in fact she had ample opportunity and encouragement to take another path. I literally forced myself to finish the book, but found Irene more and more tediously self involved, irresponsible, and unself-reflective by the minute.
What could have been a rich, informative and constructive sociological account is simply a medium for this woman to flaunt her woes, with zero accountability for the dreadful life she inflicted on her children. She glosses over others' suffering and all the larger sociological issues at hand as though everything was just an insignificant backdrop to her own glaringly narcissistic perspective.
The Big Burn
It was fine, but I have no idea how the woman could have stood reading it out loud!
Irene Spencer's story is an easy read and details her life in a polygamous family. I have never read about this subject before and it is incredible how someone could live like this but then you can also understand a little bit when reading the full story. It is sad and pretty clear that polygamy is most definitely more appealing to the men than the women.. Bottom line, women do not get much out of the deal. The book had me hooked just to see if Irene would ever be able to leave. I think this is one of those stories that could not be made up!
I've been interested in Mormonism and polygamy, and have read several books on the subject. This book fell short of the others, not without being interesting. SHATTERED DREAMS is a memoir by Irene Spencer, a second wife who goes in her tender teens to live in a sect in Mexico. Her story is incredible and quite painful to imagine living, but it was the subject herself I had trouble with. She seems to have no issue with the marrying off of young girls to men much older or the inferior position of women in general--unless it relates to herself. When she describes having to have more wives added to her family, the only problem she has with it is her jealousy, that she will have to share. I guess I was somehow under the impression that this would be a scathing view of a Mormon sect, but it's really not. In fact I found myself thinking this woman should just get herself together and stop whining! Either you're in or you're out! I thought the book was good in revealing the capacity of humans and culture, but it was too long and should have been edited A LOT.
Thank you, Irene, for sharing your story. Absolutely fascinating what one will do for blind faith. Really well written - especially for someone for whom education was not a priority until later in life. Irene Spencer is obviously a gifted and very intelligent woman.
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