FOR MAGGIE RAYNER, conditional love and the threat of violence were the lock on the prison of church and family in which she was raised.
Set in the 1950s and 60s on the West Coast of British Columbia, In Polygamy’s Shadow: From a Mormon Childhood to a Life of Choice chronicles Maggie’s personal struggle to keep herself from being devoured by the Mormon church and her parents’ unrelenting loyalty to it. She questions why her family eats food from a garbage dump while her father rises in the church hierarchy and her parents pay tithing on every dollar that comes into the household. She fears for her future when polygamists from Bountiful visit her congregation on the hunt for young brides.
As the church tightens its grip, Maggie battles for the right to think for herself and make her own choices. She realizes at a young age that she will have to make the ultimate choice between family and freedom. In Polygamy’s Shadow is both a story of survival and a cautionary tale to anyone thinking of joining the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
"Maggie Rayner has produced an engaging and immediate memoir of growing up Mormon in late-20th century British Columbia. Her recounting of struggle and, eventually, escape from a suffocating upbringing is a snapshot of a religious community riven by its tumultuous history, still haunted by the shadow - and occasionally the reality - of polygamy. It is also a compelling story of a strong and spirited girl caught in a world in which she could not live, and her dawning realization that she must leave.” — Craig E. Jones, Q.C., BGS, LL.B., LL.M.Professor of Law, Thompson Rivers University, Author, A Cruel Arithmetic: Inside the Case Against Polygamy.
“Maggie Rayner’s memoir In Polygamy’s Shadow is a true, heart-felt account of life in a mainstream Mormon family. It gives us a rare glimpse into her day to day: Maggie as a young child, as a teenager and as the adult reflecting back. We get to see the family dynamics of a household completely enslaved by a belief system spawned by cult leader Joseph Smith, who died over one hundred and fifty years ago, a man who by many accounts was little more than a pedophile. The author tells us the book was written as a warning to anyone considering an affiliation with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, or LDS. For anyone who reads this book, that warning will enlighten them, but the book is so much more.This is a bitter-sweet memoir, written with the kind of honesty that’s scarce. It’s an account of one woman’s struggle to find her place in the world and overcome a lifetime of mind control and religious oppression. She shows us the hardship of doing without while her parents paid tithing and donations to the church. She captures the awe of the natural world as seen through the eyes of an intelligent child. We watch as she’s forced to suppress her spirit to appease an abusive father and the expectations of her mother and the church.Then we see Maggie as a young woman, standing up at last, questioning the blind faith of her parents, family and community. This is a sincere account of how Maggie finally broke free and built a life of sanity and stability.” — Laurel Hislop, author, Culling God’s Herd, a fictional account of a young man cast out of the polygamous community of Bountiful, BC, in her book Chitchat.