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The Celestial Wife

A Novel


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About The Book

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

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Leslie Howard is the instant bestselling author of The Brideship Wife. She grew up in British Columbia and developed a passion for the province’s history. She divides her time between Vancouver and Penticton, where she and her husband grow cider apples. Connect with her on Twitter @AuthorLeslieH or on her website

Product Details

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (April 9, 2024)
  • Length: 352 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781982182403

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Raves and Reviews

Praise for The Brideship Wife

A wonderful debut. . . . This well-researched read marks the arrival of a new talent on the Canadian historical fiction scene.”
Toronto Star

The Globe and Mail

A beautifully told, meticulously researched story of the little-known bride ships and the courageous women on board who risked everything for freedom, then fought to get what they deserved. Debut author Leslie Howard brings history to life by masterfully weaving together the social demands of the time, the perilous journey into the unknown, the too often tragic results of colonization, and the hearts and minds of those navigating these troubled waters.”
GENEVIEVE GRAHAM, USA Today and #1 bestselling author of The Forgotten Home Child and Bluebird

“A welcome insight into the neglected history of the marriageable women sent from England to the colonies. The protagonist, Charlotte, is a true heroine. A spellbinding read. Wonderfully suspenseful, right to the satisfying ending.
ROBERTA RICH, #1 bestselling author of The Midwife of Venice

An enthralling story of a woman who leaves class-stratified, nineteenth-century London society for the distant west coast of Canada, where our protagonist, Charlotte, hopes to find a husband, but through Howard’s incredible research, we experience numerous aspects of the new world. Charlotte’s concern for justice gives the story a refreshing, revisionist feel. A thoroughly enjoyable read.
SUZANNE DESROCHERS, bestselling author of Bride of New France

“Leslie Howard is a welcome new voice with a confident sense of story, place, and destiny in this engaging coming-of-age novel.”
ANNE GIARDINI, author of The Sad Truth About Happiness and Advice for Italian Boys

Howard’s passion for her province’s history dances through her story, as she lights on the gold rush, treatment of Indigenous Peoples, local politics, and medical developments against a vividly described background. She takes on heavy themes of sex, class, racial discrimination, and women’s rights and freedoms. Yet her novel remains easily readable, entertaining and informative.
Winnipeg Free Press

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