Along with the comp ARC Soho sent me was included a slim, half-signature readers guide. Some of this info was promotional, some may be included in the published version. I don’t know. Anyway, it was interesting, but I won’t be talking about everything that was included—I’ve already talked some about marketing angles and you can get sample text and about-the-author stuff anywhere (though its interview with Mette is worth your time).
The only thing I want to discuss is READING GROUP GUIDE QUESTIONS because they, more than anything else, seem to reveal the nonLDS perspective on the LDS aspects of The Bishop’s Wife. For instance the first question seems a bit mystified by the concept (and appeal) of eternal marriage which we tend to think of as one of our top selling points.
Other questions I would simply love to hear the answers to as book groups across the country give this novel a shot. For instance:
“What do you think about the social and religious standards Linda holds herself to? Or the standards her community holds? Do any of them seem absurdly high to you? Do any of them seem to be not high enough?”
“Do [gender roles] seem more diverse, or less, or about the same as in mainstream American culture?”
“Is it possible to balance a protective nature with a welcoming, generous one?”
In terms of Linda’s “25 years being a full-time mom” and her sense that going “‘back to school or [finding] a job . . . would be saying that being a mother wasn’t enough’,” “Do we give the job of motherhood the dignity it deserves?”
I know how factions of Mormons might answer these questions, or how “average” Americans would answer some of them, but how would those same Americans answer these questions filtered through their time with LInda Wallheim? That’s what I really want to know.
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4 thoughts on “The Bishop’s Wife Reader’s Guide”
I thought this relatively negative review was interesting.
“It was really the book’s overall portrayal of what it was like to live as a Mormon that I enjoyed most. The church and its leaders are incredibly involved in the lives of those in the ward”¦to a level I found nosy and creepy. There was a lot of showing up unannounced on people’s doorsteps to “help” them or “check in on” them”¦and a lot of the delivering of baked goods as an excuse to intrude (or investigate, in Linda’s case). Ugh ““ this would drive me crazy! I also took issue with the general Mormon assumption that church attendance and involvement automatically equate to good personal character and integrity. It seemed the Mormonism portrayed here was an example of religion gone wrong. I think religion is supposed to be a comfort to people, especially in their time of need. However, living up to the expectations of Mormonism seemed to cause stress, anxiety, and fear of judgement more than anything else for many of this book’s characters, particularly the women.”
It is interesting that something that Linda valued so much in the Church, the way people looked out for each other, is the thing that creeped this reviewer out.
As someone who has mostly lived out of Utah, it does seem to me the close proximity of the Utah ward members does create an interesting dynamic. A village dynamic that I understand, but I get that many modern Americans would see it as creepy.
Yeah. We’re something of a throwback to an earlier age when people lived in and worked in and knew their communities.
How can I can obtain a Readers Guide for The Bishop’s Wife?