Rating: 5 stars
Lipstick. Bright, red lipstick. Nothing but lipstick.
Even though it is against our faith to wear a color that screams of sexual promiscuity and deviant behaviour, I’m not allowed to protest.
But, I want to. So badly.
You see there’s more to me than the braid that spills down my back. More to me than the layers of heavy fabric that maintain my modestly. And so much more than the oppressive wedding band that adorns my finger- the same band that each of my sister wives wear.
So much more.
To protest would be sinful.
I must keep sweet, that is my duty.
So I’ll wear the lipstick. I’ll do as I’m told.
And I’ll do my best to silence the resistance within me, to push him from my mind.
If only my heart would do the same.
Passionate. Enchanting. Captivating. These are just some of the few words that come to mind when trying to decipher this book in a few words. I must say I’m having very good luck lately with books. The blurb caught my eye and I knew I had to have it. This is certainly one that will stay with me for a long time.
To provide an overview in a few sentences: Brinley is part of a religious community that practice their beliefs in a way that is different that most people do today in society. They believe in the words of a prophet that deems the actions of everyone belonging to the community, including who gets married to who etc. Amongst one of their beliefs is that the men must keep more than one wife. It’s strange really, all the wives seem to live in one home together. All the women have to dress a certain way and it’s difficult to be a complete person living in a place where you’re to act like every other woman in the compound. Brinley is, as the title suggests, the seventh wife of an elder with a high stand amongst their community. This is a story about her withstanding and journey of discovering who she really is without the act she has to constantly put on of ‘keeping sweet’ and not voicing her opinions. She doesn’t really fit in the community but tries her best to follow the rules and do as she’s told. But that becomes just a tad bit harder when she meets Porter Hammond, the rebel and the man who was kicked out of their compound many years ago. You will also discover Brinley to have secrets of her own which she’s determined to keep.
As you can already tell, this is a story of pure originality. It’s a different setting from the everyday normal society. Rarely do I see a plot with such strength and that’s been successful from this brilliant writer Melissa Brown. Religious polygamy is a difficult subject which is still much common nowadays. It questions the treatment of women, how each wife fails to get the same love and respect as the other. Marriage in that community wasn’t about love but just about procreation. This book just highlights the importance of a woman’s voice, of what she wants for herself and what she’s entitled to. I’m not much of a feminist but I was surprised by the treatment of women as such lesser beings in this story.
I loved how deep the bond between Brinley and Porter ran. Although I am 100% against seeking another man while being married, it becomes evident that you can’t really class Brinley’s marriage as a real one. I was in awe of her character development, even though she hadn’t a clue about the outside world and as innocent as she was, she wasn’t one of them clueless heroines that become annoying. She’s brave and strong which are the character traits that eventually shine through and made me like her in the end.
I know a lot of people were complaining about Brinley and how they don’t understand why she fell for Porter. I agree that he’s quite the opposite character as opposed to Brinley but she sees deeper than their differences. She sees a boy who showed that he cares when no one in her life ever did and that made her realise that she needed that caring and understanding after being so lonely. I know he has a bad habit (that of which I cannot name) but for me that was a point that made me like this book even more. He wasn’t supposed to be perfect but he was supposed to have flaws.
The story is mostly told from Brinley’s point of view so we get to experience the story from her eyes. I loved how her meeting with Porter was displayed the very first time she met him and after that how her feelings were told from her perspective. It was beautiful and revealed the extent of her feelings. There are also snippets from other scenes that hold importance to the story but are not necessarily experienced by Brinley. You get to see chapters in third person about Porter, Rebecca (the eight wife) and even Brinley’s husband, amongst many other important characters in this story. I really liked this technique that the author used. It helps the reader gain more understanding of the story and somehow understand the actions of other characters in the book a little bit better. For that I have to applaud Melissa Brown in her ability and success at creating a tale so flawlessly told.
To conclude, this book contains a topic that is much debatable and it allows you to take a glimpse into the life of just one of those women. Sometimes all people need is a little encounter and a push for them to understand that they have a freedom to choice and that forms the basis of this tale. I recommend this for anyone who loves a bit of romance but also wants to explore a topic that is a little different to the usual circumstances.
The voices in my head started as disjointed whispers, so unconnected that they didn’t make any sense. But, those whispers were coming together, becoming more cohesive, clearer and louder in my head than ever before. From a whisper to a scream… I was waiting for the scream.