The subject of this mesmerizing historical autobiography is Sarah Ann Thirkell Pool’s gripping family journey from Yorkshire, England, to America during the mid-19th century and the family members’ travails as they begin a new life as Mormons. The details, drawn directly from Pool’s intimate diaries, were written into book form by Pool’s granddaughter, Luella Pool Saxby, over the course of 25 years.
Sarah is just 13 when her family is recruited by Mormon missionaries to join the Mormon faith with the promise of a life of equality and brotherhood. They set sail in 1852, only to be confronted with a long and miserable voyage across the Atlantic and an even worse trek across the rugged West with scant water, rattlesnakes and deadly plague. After finally reaching Salt Lake City, the family is shocked to find that the rumors of polygamy are true. In addition, their life is a constant daily fight as they face against near-starvation, diphtheria and the tragic deaths of many of their children.
But One Husband takes an intimate, emotional look at a real family’s devastating circumstances, yet still works in the bits of joy they experienced through babies’ births, daily antics, and deep friendships. It also gives insight into the strict rules and secret rituals early Mormons were expected to follow and the difficulties faced by some men who preferred having just one wife when urged to take many.
Dramatic scenes, well-written dialogue and colorful, creative writing all contribute to a book that sings while advancing smoothly through events from 1849 to 1884. Black-and-white period photos are an added enhancement. While readers will generally be able to keep track of the great number of adults and children mentioned, a family tree would have been helpful.
Honest, heart-breaking and true, But One Husband gives fresh insight into families whose lives were trampled upon despite bright promises from a charismatic yet faulty leadership. It is sure to enthrall a wide audience.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.