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Fiction Historical

The Celestial Wife

A Novel

by (author) Leslie Howard

Simon & Schuster
Initial publish date
Apr 2024
Historical, Contemporary Women, Coming of Age
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Apr 2024
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Apr 2024
    List Price
    $11.09 USD

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A young fundamentalist Mormon girl facing a forced marriage escapes her strict, polygamist community and comes of age in the tumultuous 1960s in this captivating novel inspired by shockingly true events.

Keep sweet no matter what, for this is the way to be lifted up
Keep sweet with every breath, for it is a matter of life or death

1964. Fifteen-year-old Daisy Shoemaker dreams of life beyond her small, isolated fundamentalist Mormon community of Redemption on the Canada—US border—despite Bishop Thorsen’s warning that the outside world is full of sin. According to the Principle, the only way to enter the celestial kingdom is through plural marriage. While the boys are taught to work in the lucrative sawmill that supports their enclave, Daisy and her best friend, Brighten, are instructed to keep sweet and wait for Placement—the day the bishop will choose a husband for them. But Daisy wants to be more than a sister-wife and a mother. So when she is placed with a man forty years her senior, she makes the daring decision to flee Redemption.

Years later, Daisy has a job and a group of trustworthy friends. Emboldened by the ideas of the feminist and counterculture movements, she is freer than she has ever been…until Brighten reaches out with a cry for help and Daisy’s past comes hurtling back. But to save the women she left behind, Daisy must risk her newfound independence and return to Redemption, where hellfire surely awaits.

For readers of Emma Cline’s The Girls and Ami McKay’s The Virgin Cure comes an arresting coming-of-age novel about a fearless young girl’s fight for freedom at a time of great historic change.

About the author

Leslie Howard grew up in Penticton, British Columbia, where she developed a passion for the province’s history. A graduate of Ottawa’s Carleton University in economics and political science, she now divides her time between Vancouver and Penticton, where she and her husband grow cider apples. The Brideship Wife is her debut novel. Connect with her on Twitter @AuthorLeslieH or on her website

Leslie Howard's profile page

Excerpt: The Celestial Wife: A Novel (by (author) Leslie Howard)

Editorial Reviews

“Fans of historical fiction about women’s rights will be enthralled to read about 15-year-old Daisy who, in 1964, escapes a forced marriage in her fictional polygamist community called Redemption, only to be called back years later to help her childhood best friend.”

“This fascinating story of a young girl’s escape from her closed polygamous community cuts straight to the heart.”
ELINOR FLORENCE, bestselling author of Wildwood and Bird’s Eye View

“An engaging book about a spunky young protagonist who finds herself catapulted out of the confines and conformity of a fundamentalist community into the drugs, sex, and rock and roll of the 1960s. Howard has a natural gift for time, place, and setting, and her pacing and suspense are propulsive.”
ROBERTA RICH, #1 bestselling author of The Jazz Club Spy

“Shedding light onto one of Canada’s most shadowed truths, Leslie Howard’s insightful research takes us on a heart-wrenching and compelling journey from behind the curtain of an infamous polygamous cult into a hard-won life of unimaginable freedom for one brave woman.”
GENEVIEVE GRAHAM, #1 bestselling author of Bluebird

“This 1960s set story of a fundamentalist Mormon who escapes her polygamist community when faced with the prospect of a forced marriage to a man four times her age is certain to appeal to anyone who couldn’t look away from Netflix docs like Keep Sweet: Pray, and Obey.”