Thursday, September 18, 2014

LDS Fiction: TEMPORARY BRIDESMAID, A Look at Romance After Thirty

by Jennie Hansen

LuAnn Brobst Staheli doesn't usually write in the Romance genre, but she's a talented writer and gave it a try. The result is Temporary Bridesmaid, a fun look at romance after thirty.
Jenny receives a wedding invitation from one of her closest friends and realizes she'll soon be the only single left in her circle of friends. She's getting closer to forty than she cares to admit and there are no prospects in sight. Perhaps it's time to stop dreaming of marriage and raising a family. Instead she should concentrate on her career.

On the day she decides her chances of marrying are slim to none, a handsome temporary worker shows up at her office. He's not your usual temp, just starting out, but an innovative computer expert who just sold his multi-million dollar computer business to obey a strong impression that he should do so and go to Salt Lake. He doesn't advertise his background to anyone in his temporary job, though a few people figure out he's a well-known figure in the computer world. Of course he and Jenny get off to a bad start and Jenny accuses James of stealing her wallet. As they struggle to both work together and avoid each other, she is overwhelmed with efforts to advance her career, earn more money, take care of her mother, and serve as her best friend's maid of honor. 

A secondary story of one of Jenny's friends runs parallel with the main story, telling the story of a woman who married too quickly to avoid the stigma of approaching middle age and still single. She discovers she doesn't know her husband very well. She hadn't expected marriage would cut her off from her mother and friends. Her husband won't even allow her to have access to a telephone. As he becomes increasingly abusive, she discovers she's pregnant. 

Jenny is strong and capable, but she's also impulsive and judgmental. Under stress she's rude. Still it's easy to sympathize with her as all of her friends marry, leaving her to face a future no one wants to share with her. Her pride takes a blow, but worse, the future she'd spent a lifetime dreaming of seems to be moving completely out of reach. James is fine with being single. Only his mother sees his single state as a problem. He likes Jenny, but suffers embarrassment and wounded pride at her hands. Staheli does an excellent job of making her secondary characters distinctive individuals. All of the major characters and the more important minor characters show growth and a greater awareness of their lives, expectations, and values as the story progresses.
There are not a lot of surprises in this story. It isn't as much plot oriented as character driven and I'm not sure how many approaching-forty-brides actually go in for all the frills and cutesiness that younger brides dote on, but the story is fun while giving the reader glimpses of the problems and concerns faced by older single women who desire marriage and children. 

Lu Ann Brobst Staheli got her start as a celebrity paparazzi reporter. She went on to an award-winning career as a ghostwriter for celebrity memoirs. She also taught junior high English, then became a school librarian. Some of her more well known books include Men of Destiny: Abraham Lincoln and the Prophet Joseph Smith and When Hearts Conjoin: The True Story of Utah's Conjoined Twins. She and her husband live in Utah and are the parents of five sons.
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Association for Mormon Letters Reviews Men of Destiny: Abraham Lincoln and the Prophet Joseph Smith

Staheli, "Men of Destiny Abraham Lincoln and the Prophet Joseph Smith" (reviewed by Elizabeth W. Roach)


Title: Men of Destiny Abraham Lincoln and the Prophet Joseph Smith
Author: Lu Ann Brobst Staheli
Publisher: Walnut Springs Press
Genre: LDS History, US Historical Figures, Lincoln, Abraham, Joseph Smith
Year Published: 2014
Number of Pages: 183
Binding: softcover
ISBN10: n/a
ISBN13: 978-1-59992-908-8
Price: $16.99

Reviewed by Elizabeth W. Roach for the Association for Mormon Letters

Two of the greatest leaders of the mid 19th century, the US President Abraham Lincoln and the Prophet Joseph Smith, each had thousands of devoted supporters as well as those moved to violence against them, and they shared other parallels in their lives as well. These men’s lives have both been meticulously researched and analyzed separately to evaluate their roles in United States and world history. Here is a book that superimposes one man’s biographical sketch over the other to discover new similarities in their lives and legacies as well as to catalog the familiar connections.

Lu Ann Staheli does not claim to be an expert on either of these men, and this book is not intended to be exhaustive in its scope, but rather a starting place on an outline map to indicate places of interest as people engage in further study. In this volume, which is far from her first book, she shows the effects of similar life experiences on the lives of the President Abraham Lincoln and the Prophet Joseph Smith and how their experiences shaped the history of our country and continue to shape it.

The book is divided into thematic sections. Each one begins with a quote, mostly from Lincoln. Quotes are used liberally throughout the text, giving a sense of time and place to the subject. My two favorite quotes were both from Abraham Lincoln. One that keeps coming to mind indicates a very humble acceptance of God’s will, along the lines of “not my will, but Thine be done.” After several months of war, Lincoln said, “If I had my way, this war would never had been commenced; if I had been allowed my way, this war would have ended before this, but we find it still continues; and we must believe that He permits it for some wise purpose of [H]is own, mysterious and unknown to us; and though with our limited understandings we may not be able to comprehend it, yet we cannot but believe that He who made the world still governs it.”

That seems applicable to so many of life’s challenges and struggles that we do not seek out or even want to experience, but we need to pass through on our way to self-improvement. Other quotes highlight Lincoln’s remarkable wry wit, such as: “The best thing about the future is that it only comes one day at a time.” Each section is full of familiar stories as well as little known anecdotes and daily incidents that I found helped humanize these two larger-than-life legends so they became more approachable and relatable. Possible meetings between Lincoln and Smith are examined as well as other ways their two lives overlapped.

Staheli weaves many different elements together to create this record which shows both Lincoln and Smith as warm, family loving, inspired men who struggled with human weaknesses and also had special gifts to understand people and had the vision to complete their individual destinies. She documents and shares this information with a minimum of personal interpretation.

I was very interested to read this book because I live near Illinois and have visited historic sites associated with both Lincoln and Smith. If it were possible, it would have been nice to have some illustrations or pictures of main topics. Who knows but a photograph showing the view from the front door of each of their homes may have had similar landscapes?

This is a well crafted book, well-documented, the author certainly is passionate about her subjects and portrays them very sympathetically. This book would be a good one to read as an introduction to further research and study of the similarities between these two phenomenal men.