Belle Waters is about to celebrate her fourteenth birthday, and she is terrified. The fear of marriage looms large for her, and every other girl who was born into the Mormon settlement of Salt Lake in the 1850s. She knows it is her duty to marry and bring Heavenly Father’s children into the world, but she’s not interested in tying the knot with anyone—especially not the Prophet, an old man with a number of wives and counting. But when the US Army invades Salt Lake intent on arresting the Prophet, Belle soon realizes that the possibility of becoming a child bride is only the beginning in a series of disastrous threats.
Belle o’ the Waters is a work of fiction, but is loosely based on a true historical event: the Mountain Meadows Massacre of September 11, 1857, which sparked a short-lived Mormon War. Although set over a century ago, the themes and issues explored in this novel are extremely relevant to the modern age: religious freedom and extremism, the role and status of women in society, and the contemporary impact of homegrown terrorism. Belle o’ the Waters is a searing exploration of those living within an oppressed community, and an ultimately revelatory novel about what it means to lead a courageous life, despite one’s circumstances.
A fascinating tale of the courage of a young Mormon girl in the face of some pretty daunting circumstances. The author has crafted a tale of survival in a landscape filled with a natural world both beautiful and dangerous, and a religious calling even more dangerous. Strong, believable characters, a creatively imaginative story line, and a look at a time and place in American history imbued with an iconoclastic mystery, Belle o’ the Waters had me hooked from page one. I especially enjoyed the use of Belle’s journal entries during the tale as they bring into focus the intense situations that arise during her life, and without spoiling anything, she faces much that would break many fourteen year old girls on the verge of womanhood. A page turning delight, with requisite pauses to catch one’s breath, awaits you dear reader. Prepare to be entertained, and perhaps maybe even educated a little about an oft overlooked piece of American History. 4 Stars