Review by Leah Cooper
If you read my April 18 review of her novel The Promise, you know that Weisgarber is one of my favorite authors. She is a warm, wonderful and fascinating woman who writes character-driven, nuanced novels centered around difficult historic times.
The Glovemaker is set in the winter of 1887-1888, in a remote part of Utah Territory where a handful of Mormon believers reside so they can have some independence and distance between themselves and the hierarchy of the Mormon church.
Deborah Tyler lives in Junction, a tiny town of seven Mormon families scattered along a canyon surrounded by red rock cliffs. She earns her living by tending orchards and making work gloves. Most of the families in Junction are not polygamists.
They don’t have a wardhouse or bishop, nor do they follow all the precepts of Joseph Smith. For this, they are looked upon with suspicion by other Mormons outside their community.
The law forbids marriage to more than one woman; men who practice polygamy are subject to arrest and imprisonment. It is not uncommon for those trying to escape the law to turn up in Junction, looking for help to get to the safety of Floral Ranch.
But having such a man turn up in the dead of winter is unexpected. Deborah’s husband Samuel is out of town and weeks late returning from his travels as a wheelwright. Life grows complicated when first the stranger and then the pursuing federal marshal appear at her door.
Tension builds as Weisgarber reveals the details of the story, layer by layer. With each passing day, our concern grows. What will happen between the renegade and the lawman? Between Deborah and her stepbrother? Between Deborah and her sister’s family? And what is preventing Samuel’s return home?
While The Glovemaker is a work of fiction, it is rooted in fact. The orchards planted by earlier Mormon settlers of Junction, Utah, now grow in Capitol Reef National Park. Floral Ranch did exist, and historical evidence indicates it was a place of safety for polygamists evading capture.
Cohab Trail, which overlooks the Junction orchards, was used to hide “cohabitation” practitioners until they were able to travel safely to Floral Ranch. Two reviews perfectly capture the essence of The Glovemaker.
Stephen Harrigan, author of The Gates of the Alamo and Remember Ben Clayton wrote, “When I first started reading Ann Weisgarber’s new book, I had no expectation that a novel about renegade Mormons in Utah in the 1880s could turn out to be so precisely suspenseful that, if Alfred Hitchcock were alive, he might snap up the film rights.”
From Reading the Past, “While this is excellent character-centered literary fiction, its plot feels as taut as a thriller.”
Then on June 18 at 6 P.M., enjoy delicious refreshments and a glass of wine while listening to Ann Weisgarber talk about the inspiration for The Glovemaker.
There is no charge to attend. Hardback copies of The Glovemaker will be available for $25; the author’s earlier works in soft cover are $15. Cash or check only.
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