I’ll be the first one to admit that I don’t know much about the Mormon religion apart from the odd stories that crop up on certain news websites or the ones that surrounded Mitt Romney during the US elections. Putting those thoughts to one sides, I approached this book with as open a mind as I could muster. And it proved very interesting.
This book really delves into the Mormon society and the role of the family within it. Each member has very defined roles, reinforced by their peers which Ashworth captures with her distinct prose. Gossip and judgement is rife as people’s actions and behaviour are criticised, especially by the women.
Ashworth tells the story by giving members of the Leeke family a voice: Pauline is the matriarch, home-bound due to injury; Martin is her long-suffering husband; Julian is the eldest son but doesn’t follow the Mormon path; Gary is the star son and Jeannie is their daughter and youngest child.
The story is based around Gary’s return to Lancashire from his two-year mission in Utah where he has been expected to spread the word of his lord. Anticipation and anxiety are rife on both sides, but other events are playing out under the excitement of the reunion. Julian, who has been so distant from his own family, unlocks his door when the time comes. Jeannie is subjected to horror but fights her way back. Martin is desperate to break away from his family, finding it all too much. But everyone has to pull together in the end when Jeannie is in trouble.
Set in a single day, nothing goes as planned.
Ashworth’s prose is as strong as ever with descriptions and dialogue. The sections set in Utah really show what life is like for missionaries and what they’re up against. I felt the ending was too neatly wrapped up too quickly following the build-up throughout the story. I wanted more!
Any Cop?: A good read, and one that uncovers a little-known society.