FROM HOUSEWIFE TO HERETIC by Sonia Johnson

FROM HOUSEWIFE TO HERETIC

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Hounded by the Mormons: a passionate, prolix, never-say-die account by an unlikely feminist. Johnson got into the headlines when her Mormons For ERA (""Isn't that a little like astronauts for a flat earth?,"" wondered the New York Times) activities raised the patriarchal hackles of her brethren and led, on Dec. 5, 1979, to her excommunication. But she does more here than simply rehearse her doomed crusade to make a group of reactionary bigots--as she presents them, rather convincingly--see the light. Johnson also tells her life story as a drama of feminist consciousness--from her benighted days as an all-accepting drudge, a selfless wife following her husband from job to job all over the world, the exhausted mother of four, a perpetual part-time student. . . to full-blown liberation. She reached the latter point--rather neatly for her book, but agonizingly otherwise--when her husband of 20 years left her just as her case was coming to trial before a very kangarooish Mormon court. The odd and, ultimately, winning thing about Johnson is that she really was, and still is in some ways, a devout Mormon. So when she battled with hopeless cases like ""bishop"" Jeff Willis, she deeply, desperately wanted to win him over, and not just score points with the media. But what can be done with a church that publishes a best-selling pamphlet (Women's Divine Destiny, by Mildred Chandler Austin) seriously comparing the man's role in marriage to a foot and the woman's to a shoe? Ladies, beware of pinching hubby's toes as he climbs ""the rocky road to exaltation."" Johnson's only nagging fault is loquacity: still fresh from her traumatic/exhilarating experiences, she has to tell us everything. But an honest and unusual ""testimony.

Pub Date: Nov. 6th, 1981
Publisher: Doubleday