- In My Father's House: A Memoir of Polygamy
Dorothy Allred Solomon, the twenty-eighth of forty-eight children born to Dr. Rulon Allred, a well-known Utah polygamist, opens wide the door to a previously closed world. Solomon shares the joys, sorrows, social ramifications and the often wrenching search for identity and freedom of expression for wives and children in modern polygamy in a way that allows the reader to feel empathy for the women and children involved, and even a certain small sympathy for her father. Showing Allred's consuming dedication to "the Principle," and shedding light on the many difficulties and the occasional joys living polygamy brought to his seven wives, Solomon discusses living arrangements, distribution of resources, allocation of work and chores, as well as the tensions and jealousies among these women as sister wives and mothers. She also examines these issues as they affected the children of the different families. Solomon states: "And so it was in my father's house, a pecking order best symbolized by twinness—an intricate interdependency of personalities, of dominating and dominated, of extrovert and introvert," as she defines the relationships between the women who struggled with themselves and each other for identity, for validation, and for attention from the man they had each married (54).
Solomon addresses issues of honesty, secrecy, and lies. Love and jealousy, poverty and persecution, freedom and control, gospel knowledge and lack of social and sexual knowledge were everyday concerns for her [End Page 218] and her siblings, issues that the mothers also dealt with. Rulon Allred eventually married at least eleven women, but Solomon focuses mainly on the seven sister-wives her father lived with for much of her early life and the constant vigilance necessary to stay ahead of detection and the law. She also tracks events that lead to her father's assassination; in 1977, Allred was gunned down in the offices of his medical practice by followers of Ervil LeBaron's radical polygamist group, an event that is well-remembered in Utah even today. In My Father's House offers an intimate account of growing up in a polygamist family that transcends the sound bites and newspaper headlines that often make up the sum total of common knowledge about a difficult and often hidden way of life lived by people that Solomon examines critically, candidly, and compassionately.