Friday, March 22, 2013

Review: For Time & Eternity

By Allison Pittman

For Time and Eternity by Allison Pittman is the first book in the Sister Wives series - and one of the most gripping works of Christian fiction I have ever read.  Caught up in this compelling narrative, you hardly realize you're seeing the contrast between Mormon beliefs and Christianity.  Allison also exposes the heartache of a wife who must accept a sister-wife, the obsession with building families for the afterlife, and the “infallable” words of the prophet.


When Camilla Deardon hears their songs coming on a breeze, they sound just like the songs in her own church. This is all she knows of the Mormons camping near her family's farm. Mama and Papa warned her to stay away, but she doesn't understand their fear, especially after meeting a young Mormon man named Nathan Fox. So handsome. So charming. His eyes hold the very image of this Zion he talks about, and his step seems a promise to take her there.

Though Camilla knows she should obey her parents, she can't refuse her heart. But Nathan's promises can never prepare her for what she will face in Utah. She's been willing to share her husband's faith, but can she share her marriage with another woman?

My thoughts:

This is such a good book on so many levels that I hardly know where to begin.  Lyrical and emotionally-charged writing, compelling storytelling, historical accuracy  - this is a story that will stay with me for a long time.

Camilla's strict upbringing in a home where love wasn't freely expressed contributes to her longing for the warmth, friendship, love of family, and devout worship that the Mormon community camped out next to her home seemed to offer.  And Nathan Fox captures her heart almost from their first meeting.  "Sure as on the day I was born when I could only lay helpless in my mother's arms, that moment a few steps back when Nathan Fox looked into my very soul marked the first breath of a new life, and I wanted to linger in it.  His eyes held the very image of Zion, and his step matched to mine seemed a promise to take me there."

I think Nathan truly loved Camilla, but his desire for praise and the approval of Mormon elders was stronger.  After the death of their baby son, Nathan begins to consider the taking of a second wife.  Camilla reflects that "Nathan was convinced that marrying and having children was the path to celestial rewards.  The more wives and children on earth, the more glorious his family in heaven.  What better eternity could there be for a man who had spent his childhood unloved and alone?"  Sometime later, during a Mormon service, Camilla reflects:  "I saw Nathan as I never had before.  My humble, pleasing, loving husband, driven by spiritual greed.  What dominion did he need beyond our little home and his workshop?  What exaltations besides the excited shouts of our little girls every time he entered a room?"

Camilla's spiritual journey is beautifully and realistically portrayed.  With Nathan gone over the summer, Camilla begins reading and studying the Bible, along with her daughters and Kimana, their Native American maid.  Kimana, a most endearing character, grows in her faith in God, as well as her love for Camilla.

Allison has a gift for conveying feelings and raw emotions.  From the moment Camilla catches her first glimpse of the young girl who will become Nathan's second wife, until weeks after the wedding - these pages literally held me in their grip.  Camilla's feelings are expressed in these thoughts after the wedding:  "Over the course of this ceremony, Nathan had once and for all been displaced as the center of my life.  His home would not forever be my home.  His god would never be my god.  I was bound to him by the law, and I still loved him, but that love was swiftly becoming something akin to nostalgia - a passion relegated to the girl I was long ago.  I would live my life as a bride of Christ alone."

A question and answer section with Allison is included at the end, which gives a lot of insightful information.  The story is well researched, but Allison is also very familiar with the world of Mormonism because her husband left it to become a Christian in high school and she grew up in Utah, the center of Mormonism in America.  She also mentions that by writing this series, she "didn't want to take on the entire Mormon faith," but rather focus on historical Mormonism in the 1850's.

This book will stay with me for a long time.  I'm glad Allison had the vision and desire to write it, and that Tyndale House chose to publish it.  I would give For Time and Eternity a rating higher than 5 stars if I could.  Very highly recommended for all fiction readers.

For more information, visit Allison's website at

1 comment:

  1. What a compelling review. I would have passed this one by if not for reading your thoughts. It's now on my wishlist.