Linda Wallheim serves alongside her husband Kurt in his role as a Mormon bishop. Their five sons are almost all grown and her days are spent caring for the needs of the ward. Much of what she does is very ordinary and involves community service, visiting people in their homes and offering a listening ear. On the outside, Linda appears calm and poised, but internally she finds herself struggling. In caring for their community, her work increasingly intersects with women whose lives are crumbling largely because of the many secrets they hold close and the patriarchal structure that prevents them from flourishing.
In The Bishop’s Wife, Mette Ivie Harrison’s central story focuses on a man name Jared Helm, whose wife, Carrie, has simply disappeared, leaving him to raise his 5-year-old daughter alone. Linda grows increasingly suspicious of Jared’s story of his wife’s disappearance and finds herself investigating the case further when police leads dry up. What she finds troubles her greatly. While she pursues the truth about Carrie, she begins to look at the other women differently. Where she previously dismissed oddities in behavior, she now begins to piece together the hidden brokenness in the lives of several ladies in the ward. As Linda moves outside her realm of comfort and boldly steps into the lives of these other women, she finds that while helping others heal, she is finally able to deal with some of her own past.
The insider’s view of the Mormon church in this story is intriguing but the issues it deals with are common in all walks of life and different faiths. When Linda decides to become more involved in other’s lives, she continually finds herself struggling with whether she should defer to her husband’s wishes or follow her instinct to pursue the truth. Her quiet resolve is a great reminder that courage comes in many forms and we may never know the true heroes among us. I highly recommend The Bishop’s Wife as a great work of women’s fiction. It would be an excellent choice for a book club as Mette Ivie Harrison digs deep into issues that face all women providing substantial material for discussion.
Sarah McCubbin is a homeschooling and foster mom in NE Ohio where she resides with her husband and 7 children. In addition to reading great books, she enjoys gardening, traveling and blogging at Living Unboxed.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Soho Crime. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.