SECRET CEREMONIES by Deborah Laake

SECRET CEREMONIES

A Mormon Woman's Intimate Diary of Marriage and Beyond
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 A candid, often startling memoir of the author's life as a Mormon wife. Though Laake is now a professional journalist, she was raised in a Mormon family and sent to Brigham Young University with one paramount aim: to find and marry ``a faithful Mormon man.'' Without such a marriage, plus the guidance that only a devout husband could provide, she would ``be denied access to the highest level of Mormon heaven''--just one of the many unusual aspects of the emphatically patriarchal religion that Laake reveals here. Moreover, the author intended to wed not any man but ``the One''- -the marriage partner predestined by God--and when she began to doubt that one narrow-minded but extraordinarily persistent suitor, Monty Brown, was the One, Monty and Laake's own brother rushed to her side to exorcise ``the devil'' that had invaded her soul. Laake married Monty in an arcane ceremony whose esoteric details are zestfully described here; pledged to wear ``garments'' (a kind of sanctified nightgown) for the rest of her life; and began what most Americans would consider a bizarre life that included the recycling of condoms through vigorous washing. Within nine months, the naturally free-spirited author asked for a divorce and began--under the close (and, by her account, sexually obsessed) scrutiny of male church authorities--a painful odyssey of self-liberation that included two further marriages, two nervous breakdowns with hospitalization, and the slow recognition of her worth as a woman. Throughout, Laake tends toward emotionally colored, often awkward, writing (``on her first engagement: ``Soon we had created a huge, gay, snowballing ritual of congratulations that sometimes shouted down my fears'') that admirably avoids rancor but that evinces few good words for the church (``the hollow moan of dogma'') she's left behind. By no means objective, then, but, still, an affectingly personal look into the well-guarded citadel of Mormondom. (First serial to Cosmopolitan)

Pub Date: April 19th, 1993
ISBN: 0-688-09304-3
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1993




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