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Publisher's Summary

What do we really know about modern practicing polygamists - not fictional ones like the Henrickson family on HBO’s Big Love? We’ve seen the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in the news, the underage brides in pioneer dresses on a Texas ranch. But the FLDS is just one of many groups that have broken with mainstream Mormonism to follow those parts of Joseph Smith’s doctrine disavowed by the LDS Church.

Gaining unprecedented access to these communities, journalist Sanjiv Bhattacharya reveals a shadow country teeming with small town messiahs, dark secrets, and stories both heartbreaking and strange. Polygamy’s dark side - incest, forced marriages, and physical abuse - is laid bare. But Bhattacharya also finds warmth in the fundamentalist diaspora and even finds himself taking an ideological stand for polygamy’s legalization.

More than just an exposé of Mormon polygamy, Secrets and Wives is the personal journey of a foreign atheist and liberal, a stranger in a strange land who grapples with hard questions about marriage, monogamy, and the very nature of faith.

©2011 Sajiv Bhattacharya (P)2013 Audible, Inc.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Performance

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Hard listen and not that interesting

If you could sum up Secrets and Wives in three words, what would they be?

If you have already kept up with the news stories and court cases of polygamy over the last ten years then you will probably find this book boring and tedious. I think this book would be an interesting read for people outside the USA.

Would you recommend Secrets and Wives to your friends? Why or why not?

I would recommend the print version over the audio version. If someone is not at all familiar with the different polygamous groups in the USA, this book might be interesting.

How could the performance have been better?

The narration was not good. I understand that the author is from the UK, but his attempts at Utah accents are just so bad they are comical. Definitely should have had someone else read the book if he was targeting an American audience.

What’s the most interesting tidbit you’ve picked up from this book?

I didn't really learn anything from this book that hasn't already been published in newspapers or magazines.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Mormon exposure

What made the experience of listening to Secrets and Wives the most enjoyable?

The fact that the author hit the name on its polygamist head. I grew up with a family of LDS I cannot say any religion on this planet is as harmful to women esecially in America.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

A Church only A Man Could Love

Any additional comments?

Great book, no bias, no one sided thought, very informative.

4 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Douglas
  • Huffman, TX, United States
  • 09-26-13

Great stories (+), religious amateur hour (-)

Any additional comments?

This book is an interesting travelogue of Sanjiv's interactions with some very colorful personalities within the various polygamous groups in Utah as well as those who have left (escaped) the culture. While the stories are fascinating at times, most of the experiences that Sanjiv chooses to focus on are full of abuse and neglect and are at their core quite depressing. Sanjiv lightens the mood through humorous jabs at his subjects, their towns, and especially their faith. I strongly prefer audio books to be professionally narrated (not performed by the author) but it really worked in this case. It is like Sanjiv is telling you all of these crazy experiences over dinner complete with his endearing British accent. 5 stars for the narration.

My problems with Sanjiv's book and the reason why I gave the story only 3 stars are twofold. First, he is obnoxiously dismissive and mocking of the Mormon religion. I am active LDS. It doesn't bother me at all if people disagree with the tenets of the faith or poke fun at the idiosyncrasies of Mormons as a subculture. I'm cool with that, I think that Mormons are funny too. But if Sanjiv is going to call Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon a fraud and mock them mercilessly throughout the book, he better do his homework. His "teardown" of the faith was religious amateur hour and a book this long deserved a little more rigor than that. He seems to have given no serious consideration to the other side of the argument at all. In the end, the tone of the book was that of a smug, liberal atheist from LA swooping in to mock and disparage religious conservatives in small town Utah.

My second problem with the book is that Sanjiv really drills in when he finds abuse, oddities and "dirt" but seems uninterested in the truly happy families. When he meets wonderful people at Centennial Park and The Rock he simply says that they are great and then he talks about the flies or Bollywood flicks and curry. After seeing all of the problems in polygamy, why didn't these examples spark more intellectual curiosity? What are these people doing right? Aren't the positive cases as intellectually interesting and deserving as the scandalous ones? Apparently not for Sanjiv who seems more interested in proving a point (polygamy is evil) than understanding a multi-faceted issue. Sanjiv likes incest, abuse, intrigue, and suspense. But throw a happy community in his path and he doesn't know what to do with it. The snarky atheist quickly runs out of questions. Uh...more banana bread, please? I do agree with Sanjiv that polygamy should be decriminalized, just don't expect him to be fair and balanced.

All that said, it was still worth the price of admission.

6 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

GREAT inside stories of different polygamist group

I absolutely LOVED this book from beginning to end. Sanjiv did such an amazing job both writing and narrating. The book is well written from a 3rd party view, not biased and full of great insight. This is the 6th book I've listened to on the subject, all of which are first hand accounts minus this one, and this was by far the most informational!! I laughed, cried and enjoyed this book from beginning to end! GREAT JOB SANJIV!!

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Aggie
  • seattle, wa
  • 03-28-18

Why?!

I was very interested in this book. It seems well written but I just could not make it through the audio. The male narrator really really really should not speak in a cartoony high voice to try mimic the females interviewed. And there are a lot of them. I don't know why no one advised him against this. It was unbearable

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Fantastic!

This book is very well written and wonderfully told aloud. Very humorous, but yet serious. Well done and most enjoyable!

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Enjoyable

At first I found the narration annoying, the author was attempting to almost caricature a woman's voice but as the story rolled on I no longer seemed to notice. Nothing ground breaking or sensational in the story but it was enjoyable nonetheless. I feel for the author, whos disappointment in the shut out from many of his subjects was unwarranted. He told the stories without too much judgement compared to most books of this kind and seemed to feel sorry for many people he met. As an atheist myself I believe that the brainwashing and naivety of his subjects is wrong on so many levels.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

great

such a great read! loved the many different perspectives he gave from so many different communities

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Impressive

The author does his own research and presents a very unbiased look at the lesser known areas of polygamist Mormons. He has a good cadence as the reader. This book changed my view on polygamy in general and has a lot of great well researched information on mormonism and it's side cults.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Peeking into the Polygamy Kaleidoscope

I love to hear a writer narrate his/her own work as it's the most likely to reflect the intended meaning. Mr. B does a great job as a journalist collecting stories from all sides (including conflicting accounts of the same event) and trying to get to the kernel of truth. He doesn't just take anyone's word but tries to vet and re-vet. Sometimes the truth is hard to pin down so he presents the evidence he finds and lets you work it out. The story is told first-person on a very personal level with a lot of humor interjected, which helps you ingest what is, at times, deeply painful and troubling. At first I was put off by his lack of ear and imitations of Utah natives which came across in odd British working class accents, but once I got used to it I was able to listen past this. At times that was actually part of the humor, almost a Pythonesque-falsetto version of some female voices, but once you get really into the story you should be able to overlook that and get to the content. I enjoyed the book a lot and recommend it to anyone with an interest in religious fringe beliefs, American culture and history (yes, it is part of that), gender rights, Utah politics, marriage, and human beings escaping cultural handcuffs. I will listen to it again.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Ann D
  • 01-15-16

Interesting and perfectly read.

What about Sanjiv Bhattacharya’s performance did you like?

He had a great, relaxed style. He could have been telling the story to a group of friends late in the evening.

Any additional comments?

I notice on audible.com that Americans are not loving this! Fear not British listeners. My own experience, together with reviews on Amazon.co.uk, show that this is a cultural issue. This is due partly to the love of Jesus and Christianity harboured by the average American. Bhattacharya explores these disfuctional groups and individuals with typical British cynicism and dark humour. Think Louis Theroux! This approach seems to have offended many American listeners/readers. However, I feel sure that it would only serve to make the book more enjoyable for most Brits.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful