This daily feature is an introduction to a full book review by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich. To read the full text of this review, follow the link below.
Because of its freshness and clarity, I predict that Colleen McDannell’s Sister Saints, a history of modern Latter-day Saint women, will become a standard in religious studies courses and perhaps in book clubs among Latter-day Saints as well. It is unquestionably a “crossover” book. General readers will appreciate its lively stories and well-balanced arguments, and students at any level will profit from its detailed endnotes and chapter-by-chapter bibliographic essays. The book is fairminded but never wimpy. It will provoke discussion in and out of the academy.
In one of the last pages, McDannell observes, “There never has been a singular ‘Mormon woman.’ Despite this reality, Americans continue to elevate a minority of Latter-day Saints into a fantastical majority” (201). She is commenting here on the current popularity of so-called “mommy blogs.” But her observation is just as relevant to the longer history she narrates. Public portrayals of Latter-day Saint women, whether hostile or admiring, have often leaned toward the fantastical. McDannell’s book complicates those images and stereotypes.