Pub. Date:
Falling in Love with Joseph Smith: My Search for the Real Prophet

Falling in Love with Joseph Smith: My Search for the Real Prophet

by Jane Barnes


View All Available Formats & Editions
Choose Expedited Shipping at checkout for delivery by Wednesday, September 29


When award-winning documentary film writer Jane Barnes was working on the PBS Frontline/American Experience special series The Mormons, she was surprised to find herself passionately drawn to Joseph Smith. The product of an Episcopalian, “WASPy” family, she couldn’t remember ever having met a Mormon before her work on the series—much less having dallied with the idea of converting to a religion shrouded in controversy. But so it was: She was smitten with a man who claimed to have translated the word of God by peering into the dark of his hat.

In this brilliantly written book, Barnes describes her experiences working on the PBS series as she moved from secular curiosity to the brink of conversion to Mormonism. It all began when she came across Joseph Smith's early writings. She was delighted to discover how funny and utterly unique he was—and how widely divergent his wild yet profound visions of God were from the Church of Latter-day Saints as we know it today. Her fascination deepened when, much to her surprise, she learned that her eighth cousin Anna Barnes converted to Mormonism in 1833. Through Anna, Barnes follows her family’s close involvement with Smith and the crises caused by his controversial practice of polygamy. Barnes’ unlikely path helps her gain a newfound respect for the innovative American spirit that lies at the heart of Mormonism—and for a religion that is, in many ways, still coming into its own.

An intimate portrait of the man behind one of America’s fastest growing religions, Falling in Love with Joseph Smith offers a surprising and provocative window into the Mormon experience.

Related collections and offers

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781585429257
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 08/16/2012
Pages: 304
Product dimensions: 5.70(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

JANE BARNES, who has received fellowships from the NEA, NEH, and the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, has published two novels: I, Krupskaya: My Life with Lenin and Double Lives. Her essays and stories have appeared in MLLE, Mirabella, Prairie Schooner, Dialogue, and the Virginia Quarterly Review, among others. Barnes has written documentaries for American Experience, American Masters, and Frontline. She lives in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Table of Contents

1 Joseph Smith: Lost and Found 1

2 The Return of the Repressed 19

3 The Angel, the Plates, and the Power of Joseph's Charms 39

4 La Vita Nuova 59

5 Joseph Smith Couldn't Have Written the Book of Mormon 79

6 Back to the Future 101

7 Past-Life Digression 121

8 Joseph Through the Particle Accelerator 141

9 Contradiction Is Not a Sign of Falsity 159

10 The Pure Products of America 177

11 Faith and Irony 195

12 Except Ye Be Converted, and Become as Little Children 215

13 Sanctified Flesh 235

14 A Dead Prophet, a Corpse, and a Woman Who Will Die 255

Acknowledgments 271

Notes 273

Bibliography 283

Index 287

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“Jane Barnes’ startling, compelling book looks for treasure, much as the young Joseph Smith did, with the passion of a convert and the wild, sharp eye of someone determined to find it in the most unlikely places. This is a beautiful and utterly original book.”
--Sara Miles, author of Take This Bread and Jesus Freak

"This is a balanced and intensely personal biography of Smith, as well as an arresting memoir of a spiritual leader."
--Publishers Weekly

“This is a book about faith and irony, but don't let the title fool you. Hold on to your hats, because you're going to be falling in love with Joseph Smith, too!”
--Dennis Covington, author of the National Book Award finalist Salvation on Sand Mountain

“Jane Barnes offers a rollicking, visionary, and deeply personal exploration of the magnetic legacy of Joseph Smith and what his story can teach us about our own deeply American hunger for transcendence. In a moment when many Americans are realizing how little they know about Mormonism, Barnes shows us what non-Mormons can and should love about this uniquely American faith tradition.”
--Joanna Brooks, author of The Book of Mormon Girl, associate professor, Department of English and Comparative Literature,
San Diego State University

“Jane Barnes’ fascination with Joseph Smith is an inward journey, an account of one person's attempt to articulate and to answer difficult questions about the mysterious Joseph, a man who puzzles and eludes her. Falling in Love with Joseph Smith made me think of one of my favorite hybrid books, Annie Dillard's For the Time Being.”
--Ann Beattie, PEN/Malamud award-winning author, professor of Literature and Creative Writing, University of Virginia

Customer Reviews