The Glovemaker: A Story of Mormonism in 19th-Century Utah

the glove maker

The Glovemaker, by Ann Weisgarber, isn’t about gloves at all. It’s the story of a Mormon woman, left alone in the Utah wilderness by her husband, who is traveling to the south while repairing wagon wheels.

The woman, Deborah, is put in jeopardy when a man she doesn’t know shows up her at her doorstep. She knows the man is a Mormon who is on the run from the law because he has more than one wife. She helps him by directing him to her neighbor and brother-in-law, Nels, who then attempts to lead him to safety. But something happens.

A federal marshal is on the stranger’s tail, and makes his appearance at an inopportune time. What happens next affects Deborah, Nels, and their entire tiny town of Junction, located in a Utah valley where orchards have been planted.

I was able to get through this book in three nights. There’s a strange but definite tension throughout the book which I wondered about. Were Mormons really that worried about how the outside world treated them in the nineteenth century? It seems they were. And perhaps they had good reason to be worried. But the author also posits that maybe the Mormons weren’t completely innocent in a century when a lot of needless blood was shed in the United States.

It’s an interesting book, particularly for those who like to read about religion. The Mormons aren’t the center of many novels, at least that I’ve read, and The Glovemaker educates readers about their history in the west.
The story of the stranger intertwines with that of Deborah’s lost husband and comes to a somewhat satisfying conclusion that isn’t exactly pat and isn’t exactly unexpected. Deborah and Nels don’t have a romance but have a heated relationship. The book is worth a read if you can withstand the heightened emotions, which may or may not have been entirely warranted.

The Glovemaker won’t be published until February of next year.

Grade: B

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