The Lonely Polygamist by Brady Udall

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The Lonely Polygamist by Brady Udall

Category: General Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Louise Laurie
Reviewed by Louise Laurie
Summary: This novel, with lots of comic elements, is all about Golden Richards and the many, many trials and tribulations of having more than one wife and a large brood of children. But the question is - is he happy with his lot?
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 608 Date: May 2010
Publisher: Jonathan Cape Ltd
ISBN: 978-0224078061

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Golden Richards bursts onto the printed page. He is the central character and let's be honest, without him there would be no wives, no children, no complicated domestic life - make that, domestic lives. Immediately I pictured Golden in my mind's eye, as a Homer Simpson type - but with lots more children. He's a bumbling, blustering, bear of a man. It's as if he's just 'turned up' for the conception of his children, just idly ambled along when they were born.

Udall gives us a big, doorstep of a novel. It's a bold, breezy read. It's also a breath of fresh air in both the story line and also in his unique style of writing. If I tell you that I laughed out loud, really laughed out loud - twice - before page 50, I think you'll get a flavour of this book. The children, all twenty eight of them (and yes, I did say twenty eight) dip in and out of the story on a regular basis, as you might expect.

When Golden returns home after a hard day's work, plays with some of the children for a bit and then says Hoo-wee. Now, where are your mothers? I loved that line. Priceless. And no doubt Golden would deliver it in a dead-pan fashion. You just know that there's going to be plenty of this humour to come. And you can't wait. Udall thoughtfully puts a graph, a family tree (or should that be trees?) of everyone right at the beginning of the novel. I found I referred to it many times.

Here's the conundrum Golden faces. According to his religion, the more wives her obligingly marries, the better man he is all round. But does that necessarily make him a better father? Or husband come to that? Many of the children are teenagers so there's plenty of hormones whooshing around the domestic scene, causing merry hell for someone, somewhere. It all makes for very entertaining reading. Their names and nicknames are absolutely hilarious. Udall take some further artistic licence and his place names, shop and restaurant names are heavy on tongue-in-cheek humour. It will bring a smile to your face. Udall has enough material in this novel to fill a stand-up comedian slot or even a sit-com. And in a way, this novel is a sitcom. But for all the funny lines (and there are many) there's also pathos. For example, the children have to wear hand-me-down clothes and treats are few and far between. In short, life seems to be one exasperation after anther for Golden. In this crowded life that he has somehow created, he finds it difficult to even source a bathroom which is free.

On almost every page there are breezy, original lines to make you smile, but they will also make you think. For instance, the reader gradually finds out about Golden's own childhood and let's just say, it was far from golden. So, you have to ask yourself, what fatherly qualities can be bring to his own children? He may just surprise you. He's a big, cuddly teddy bear but then again, everyone has their tipping point.

There's a lovely, lovely section on Golden's current work project. It's a whorehouse. And once again, Udall has fun with both Golden and his readers. It's an absolute joy to read, to savour. There's a particularly hilarious line which reads 'Oh, the darn dildos!' Miss Alberta (the owner) cried, as if she'd forgotten to put away her knitting. Needless to say, Golden hasn't a clue as to what they might be, he thinks they may be some sort of bird but he's not sure. And this from the father of twenty eight children.

We also get some background on the wives and they haven't all had God-fearing lives. Religion plays a big part in this novel, as you might expect. But ultimately, it's about parents trying to scrape a living and bring up their children as best they can. Something most of us can relate to at some level. A joyous romp of a novel.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag

If this book appeals the have a look at [[The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff].

Buy The Lonely Polygamist by Brady Udall at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Lonely Polygamist by Brady Udall at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy The Lonely Polygamist by Brady Udall at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Lonely Polygamist by Brady Udall at Amazon.com.


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