Thursday, March 03, 2016

Mormon Mentions: Fiona Barton


If you're not sure what a Mormon is, let alone a Mormon Mention, allow me to explain:  My name is Susan and I'm a Mormon (you've seen the commercials, right?).  As a member of  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (commonly known as the Mormon or LDS Church), I'm naturally concerned with how my religion is portrayed in the media.  Because this blog is about books, every time I see a reference to Mormonism in a book written by someone who is not a member of my church, I highlight it here.  Then, I offer my opinion—my insider's view—of what the author is saying.  It's my chance to correct misconceptions, expound on principles of the Gospel, and even to laugh at my (sometimes) crazy Mormon culture.

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In The Widow, a debut novel by Fiona Barton, Detective Inspector Bob Sparkes is looking into the disappearance of a 2-year-old girl.  He and a sergeant knock on the door of a person of interest in the case:

When he [Mike Doonan] cracked open the door onto the walkway, it was not his Good Samaritan neighbor with his Saturday delivery of lager and sliced bread but two men in suits.

"If you're Mormons, I've already got enough ex-wives," he said, and made to close the door."
(quote from Page 77 of uncorrected proofs)

You'd be surprised how many times police procedurals mention detectives knocking on doors being mistaken for Mormon missionaries.  It's the clean-cut, suit-wearing thing, apparently.  This particular mention, with its not-very-subtle reference to polygamy, made me laugh out loud.  Although plural marriage has not been practiced in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (the mainstream church is vastly different from its splinter groups, including fundamentalist sects that continue the practice) for over 100 years, the polygamy misconception/stigma remains.  Even while I chuckle over this quote, I want to make one thing perfectly clear:  members of the modern LDS Church do not practice polygamy.  Okay?  Okay.

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