Veda Tebbs Hale. Salt Lake City, Utah: Greg Kofford Books, 2011. Softbound, 6 x 9", 463 pages.
Maurine Whipple, author of what some critics consider Mormonism greatest novel, The Giant Joshua, is an enigma. Her prize-winning novel has never been out of print, and its portrayal of the founding of St. George draws on her own family history to produce its unforgettable and candid portrait of plural marriage's challenges along with its winsome, gallant, and sparkling heroine Clory McIntyre.
Yet Maurine's life is full of contradictions and unanswered questions. Why did she never finish her projected trilogy after writing what she considered to be its first volume? Why, when she considered herself an outcast from St. George society, did she never leave it for longer than a few months? What happened to her dreams of romantic love, marriage, and a family? Given the on-going popularity of The Giant Joshua and at least three attempts to put the story on the screen, why has a movie never been made? For extended periods of her life, she was paralyzed by personal suffering, yet did her greatest creative achievement emerge from that pain?
Veda Tebbs Hale, a personal friend of the paradoxical novelist, answers these questions with sympathy and tact, nailing each insight down with thorough research in Whipple's vast but under-utilized collected papers. By her mastery of Whipple's letters, diaries, exhaustive oral histories, and draft after draft of unrealized dreams, Veda Hale bring a novelist's life into focus. Exasperating, dazzlingly creative, courageous, brave, frequently misguided, Maurine Whipple emerges in this biography as an unforgettable character in her own right.
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