This is an epic of independence and devotion, of hardship and fulfillment, of a woman so strong that knowing her could change your life. When 10-year-old Dinah Kirkham saw her father leave their Manchester home in the middle of the night, she asked when he would be back. “Soon,” he replied. But he never came back. On that night in 1829, John Kirkham laid the foundation of his daughter’s certainty that the only person Dinah could ever really trust was herself. From that day forward, Dinah worked to support her family, remaining devoted to their welfare even in the face of despair and grinding poverty. Then one day she heard a new message; a new purpose ignited in her heart, and new life opened up before her.
“Card’s magnum opus deserves a wider readership than it has hitherto enjoyed. Best known for his fantasy fiction…Card does an excellent job of depicting the Dickensian horrors of England undergoing industrialization in the early 19th century as well as the early trials of the Church of the Latter-Day Saints as experienced by his heroine…Not just for the LDS faithful…this ambitious novel will appeal to anyone interested in a sensitive examination of the roots of religious feeling.” (Publishers Weekly) “Orson Scott Card is a powerful storyteller with the gift of making mundane things sparkle…an engrossing epic.” (Los Angeles Times Book Review)
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I have read every single book written by Orson Scott Card, and this is Card at his best. Though I was first drawn to his works through my love of science fiction, it was his religious writing that kept me coming back for more. I myself am not a member of the Latter-Day Saints, nor am I affiliated with any other religion; however, religious writing (both fact and fiction) fascinate me, especially when presented by a sincere adherent and from a personal point of view.
"Saints", formerly published as "A Woman of Destiny", is a wonderful example of fiction that puts forth some of the doctrines of a faith without proselytizing, without becoming pedantic, and without necessitating any previous knowledge of said faith. In addition, it offers a well-written and -conceived story about a single woman's struggle with the trials and vicissitudes of life during the Industrial Revolution in the early nineteenth century-- the injustice, political and personal, inherent in being an impoverished woman during this time, and most of all, her endeavors to find faith in God, to find happiness, and to find happiness in her faith.
As usual, Card displays his astonishing understanding of the female mind, and Dinah Kirkham is a strong, believable character. I have long hoped for an audio production of this novel-- yes, I have read it in traditional paper format and I am still buying the audio version, as I have with so many other books by Card-- and if the narrative cast is any indication, this will be an excellent listen. Whether you are using member credits or paying full price, "Saints" is definitely worth your time and your money.
SHE DOES NOT FIT INTO THE GROUP SHE MAKES THE GROUP FIT HER This is separated into ten books and 50 chapters. The first and second book and 16 chapters are excellent. It reminded me a lot of Potato Factory by Bryce Courtney. This was about the Industrialized England of the early 1800's. About how cruel people could be and hard it was to survive. With the exception of the father The Kirkham family manages to stay afloat during these hard times.
FROG STRANGLER Early in book 3 this becomes a devotional. I am guessing a lot people would know that a book called Saints would be about Mormons. I honestly did not. I knew Card was a Mormon, as he mentions in Lost Boys and some other books. I have always been interested in religion, so even though the whole mood of the book drastically changed and I am not a fan of devotionals from any religion, I kept listening. Card is also my favorite writer. Now we have gone from a five star to a three star.
BEAUTY ATTRACTS A MAN, BUT THE BRAIN KEEPS HIM. In book five Dinah Kirkham leaves her children to go to America. She is called a hero and brave for leaving her children for her religion. I really had a problem with this part of the book. This whole book is mostly about Dinah and we are lead to believe she is some great pious person. When she arrives in America she meets Joseph Smith, who is half naked and wrestling a man. Later she commits adultery with the leader of the church. Only it is called celestial marriage (she is still legally married to a man in England). She becomes an advocate of plural marriages and talks other women into doing it. When Smith dies, she marries Brigham Young. She proposes to him, not him to her. In the beginning of the book, we are lead to believe that she is almost raped by her boss, after the other women have complained about her getting favors for her flirting and showing her cleavage to the boss. Towards the end of the book, I am really starting to wonder who raped who.
MALARIA MEANS BAD AIR Card did not do any favors for the church, by the way he portrays Joseph Smith, the leader of the church. I am surprised he even published this. I did not like Smith from the start and he got worse as the book goes on. He marries at least 13 other women in secret and does not tell his first wife. When she suspects something is going on, he lies straight to her face. Before sleeping with Dinah, he tells her that if anyone finds out, he will deny it. If she is threatened with excommunication, he will let that happen. Under no circumstances is his first wife to find out. In other words, he is a chicken Sh#t. When his first wife finally finds out, it almost drives her crazy, but he keeps doing it. Matter of fact she might have actually gone crazy, but Smith could care less. Anytime Joseph wants something, he gets a vision from God. He complains he does not want to bed more women, but hey, God told him to. I am not sure we get a final number on how many women he marries, but I do believe that Young has over 40 wives.
BURIED TO HIS ELBOWS IN ASHES The second half of this book sounds like some kind of Peyton Place. I put it on fast play in order to get through it. I wanted to get through it to see how Smith talks these ladies into sleeping with him and his wife into accepting him. The way Card writes it, it sounds like most of the women are pretty horny for his big body. He is described as big and muscly. His wife never really accepted it and claimed to her dying day that he never cheated on her. There is some drama between two sisters who marry the same man. The Mormons who practice plural marriage today seem to like to marry sisters. If your not a Mormon or interested in the religion, you probably should stay away from this book.
Narrators are good, except for one that sounds like he is reading a children's book.