Mothers of the Prophets by Leonard J. Arrington, Susan Arrington Madsen and Emily Madsen Jones

Mothers of the Prophets by Leonard J. ArringtonThis is a book that has a great concept that fails somewhat in execution, not because of any fault of the writers but because history fails to provide the necessary information to make this book complete.

Some of the mothers of the prophets of the LDS church have extensive information recorded about their childhoods and married lives. Some of them have almost nothing. The mistake seems to me to be in the writer’s choice to try and make each woman’s story the same length when there is not the same information about each one.

This leads to chapters like the one about Lucy Mack Smith where there is extensive information about her childhood and teenage life as well as her life raising her large family. This chapter felt like it needed to be its own book. It was begging to be less summarized. Then it’s followed by chapters about the mothers of Brigham Young and John Taylor that are filled with statements about what she probably would have done during the day, what her life was probably like, where she probably lived. It’s nothing but page after page of probability statements until it sound like the entire chapter is nothing but a series of misplaced conjectures.

Each chapter starts with an anecdote about the prophet’s mother as an adult and then does a quick rewind to give a brief history of her parents. It moved forward from there in a mostly linear fashion. The information being presented is interesting during the chapters that actually have information in them (the other I think should have been cut down to a page or two instead of relying on guessing) but the opening sequence gets tiresome quickly.

In short, this is a good book, that will give a great appreciation for the trials and troubles that were entailed in raising families in the early parts of the United States’ history. It misses being a great book by repetitive narrative structure and rampant guessing in an attempt to keep chapter lengths equal where they really don’t need to be.

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