A lyrical novel exploring the origins of the Mormon faith, RECOMMENDED by the New York Times Book Review.
“Superb… a first-rate historical novel” – The Denver Post
“A masterpiece … perfect for fans of Hilary Mantel and Geraldine Brooks” – Kris Waldherr, author of The Lost History of Dreams
In 1825, in rural Pennsylvania, Emma Hale marries an itinerant treasure-digger, a man who has nothing but a peep-stone in his pocket and a conviction that he can speak directly to God. His name is Joseph Smith and in a few short years, he will found his own religion, gather zealous adherents by the tens of thousands, and fracture Emma’s life and faith.
While the Mormon religion finds its feet and runs beyond the grasp of its founder, Emma struggles to maintain her place in Joseph’s heart—and in the religion that has become her world. The Mormons make themselves outcasts everywhere they go. Joseph can only maintain his authority by issuing ever-stranger commandments on God’s behalf, culminating in an edict that men should marry as many women as they please. The Mormons’ adoption of polygamy only sets them further apart, and soon their communities are ravaged by violence at the hands of their outraged fellow Americans. For Emma, things take a more personal toll as Joseph brings in a new wife—a woman whom Emma considers a sister.
Emma knows there will never be peace until Joseph faces the law. But on the half-wild edge of the frontier, he’s more likely to find death at the hands of a vigilante posse than a fair trial. For the sake of her people—and her soul—Emma must convince the Prophet of God to surrender... and perhaps to sacrifice his life.
“Probes the emotional maelstrom” – The New York Times Book Review
“Fascinating … one of the most interesting and nuanced portrayals of a marriage I’ve read in a very long time … Brilliant.” – Allison Epstein, author of A Tip for the Hangman
Libbie Grant has been passionate about American history—especially the early days of the Mormon Church—from a young age. She was raised in the Latter-day Saint faith and has deep roots in Mormon culture, though she is no longer a practicing member. Under her pen name, Olivia Hawker, she is a Washington Post bestselling author and a finalist for the Washington State Book Award and the WILLA Literary Award for Historical Fiction. She lives in the San Juan Islands with her husband, Paul.