Book Reviews

The Celestial Wife by Leslie Howard


                                                    THE CELESTIAL WIFE

                    By Leslie Howard (Simon & Schuster Canada).

“The Celestial Wife” is an age-old story of overriding mortal dominance, one human being manipulating another, a tale as old as the hills and as new as the present day.

“He claims to be God’s one true prophet on earth, but he does things I don’t think God would ever want for us.”

These “things” include the power hungry Bishop Thorsen’s plan to marry off twelve-year old twins to members in another community.

Set in the mid-to-late 1960s, Daisy is the fifteen-year-old product of a fundamentalist Mormon community, with roots firmly planted in the practice of polygamy.  Situated on the Canada-US border and known as the Redemption community, Daisy’s situation is complicated.

While the principles of obedience and servitude are ingrained in her, “Keep Sweet” is the ubiquitous greeting, Daisy nevertheless possesses an inquisitive and escalating rebellious spirit, one that demands that she accomplish more in life than being be a sister-wife and a baby mill. Her aspirations are dangerous, as Daisy well knows – her mom had been banished to the outskirts of Redemption for her husband’s – and her own- insubordination in not adhering the demands of the Bishop and the other “worthy priesthood men who blindly followed his every word.”

Ultimately, when Daisy is told that she is to marry Bishop Thorsen, a man forty years her senior, rather than Tobias, the young man she secretly hungers for, Daisy makes a daring escape to the British Columbia interior, where she makes new friends and a new life, exploring the kind of life-affirming events – such as attending the famous 1969 Woodstock Festival- that were considered sinful acts by the Redemption hierarchy, who of course, made great efforts to bring Daisy back into the “fold.”

Daisy was haunted by the plight of her good friend Brighten, who had sacrificed her own freedom so that Daisy could get away the night of their escape.

And so, Daisy, under the guise of repentance, willingly returns to Redemption, playing the part of a remorseful sinner in order to help a pregnant Brighten flee the community.

What happens next is a shocking example of how the tenets of faith and God’s teachings can be viciously and violently manipulated to serve the intentions of the power hungry and evil –wrapped in the cloak of religion.

Howard’s novel is a master class in how courage, determination and an unshakeable belief in one’s convictions can expedite triumph over the meanness of the human spirit.


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Cece is the feature cover writer for several prestigious publications both in print and online, and an informed, connected and enthusiastic book blogger at Her first book, The Love Story, was published in 2019. Her books, “Nunzio Tumino: A Pocketful of Dreams: An Immigrant’s Journey,” and “Helping People One Hand At A Time” are both available on
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