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Mormon Mother: An Autobiography by Annie Clark Tanner
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Mormon Mother: An Autobiography by Annie Clark Tanner

3.94  ·  Rating Details  ·  171 Ratings  ·  55 Reviews
Annie Clark was a Brigham Young Academy student when she became the plural wife of Joseph Tanner, a faculty member and future Mormon church administrator. Although "Mr. Tanner's" attentions were directed more toward his other wives, Annie nonetheless bore him eight children. Her attempts to understand this loveless product of her church's bidding are impressive and poignan ...more
Paperback, 382 pages
Published June 1st 1983 by Signature Books
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(showing 1-30 of 277)
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Aug 21, 2007 Lucas marked it as to-read
Recommends it for: members of my family
Supposedly this woman is my great-great grandmother or is she my great-great aunt? I can never remember since she was a plural wife and that shit fucks up the bloodline.
Oct 10, 2015 Josephine rated it it was amazing
I have to admit that when my mom passed this one on to me I took a while to pick it up because it looked so long and boring. I was wrong. Once I picked it up and read the preface, I was hooked and couldn't put it down.
It's basically a biography of a woman who was born to a second wife in polygamy, and then became a second wife herself. You get to see her honest inner struggle throughout the book as she struggles to understand her upbringing and beliefs and what her conscience begins telling her.
Jan 12, 2016 Emily rated it it was amazing
I'm using this as a text in a Utah history class, and even though I inherited the selection from the previous instructor, I'm really glad it's one of the books. It covers a long and interesting period in Utah/Mormon history, from the end of the pioneer era to the start of World War II. Annie Tanner is an insightful writer, and the memoir is very readable. You get the sense she's telling her story as honestly as possible, and though she went through rough times and her sorrow and confusion come t ...more
April Fear
May 04, 2015 April Fear rated it it was amazing
This is a wonderfully written story of a girl from the second marriage of an affluent polygamous family. Her father provided her with an excellent education in a time when few women had the opportunity of higher learning. While attending Brigham Young Academy she met her future husband who was a professor there. Annie became Professor J. M. Tanner's second wife in 1883.

From the day of her secret wedding Annie rarely saw her husband, except for visits to get her pregnant. Her husband never lived
Jun 05, 2016 Lalove rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed reading about polygamy from a firsthand account. It was interesting to hear how Annie's perspective evolved -- she was raised in a polygamous home and initially a staunch supporter of the lifestyle -- after she married into polygamy and realized the strain it put on women and children. She also provides a lot of insights into the attitude toward polygamy among women and leaders of the LDS church during the end of the 19th century before and after the LDS church issued a manifest ...more
May 25, 2013 Anne rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. It's been on my shelf for a long time. I wonder why I put it off. It is such an honest book. She tells her story with out any stops for a pity party. She just looked at life and decided to do what she could to help her children succeed. She is such a woman of principles. It never occurred to her to NOT live by her ideals.
Feb 02, 2009 Judd rated it really liked it
Annie Clark Tanner was a second wife during the end of Mormonism's days of openly practicing polygamy. Her autobiography, published by her son O.C. Tanner, chronicles her life, her struggles during her time on the polygamy underground, being flighted from town to town, staying in the homes of relatives and friends as she hid from federal agents who descended on Utah and Idaho searching for evidence of polygamy as they investigated men who practiced it. She struggled to accept the concept of poly ...more
Jul 23, 2008 Julie rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed reading this autobiography. In fact, I could not put it down. What an amazing lady. I thought that I would read it and become more disgusted with the early LDS church about polygamy but I didn't (granted my feelings for it were not very kind in the first place). I am certainly not in favor of it-- I think it was extremely hard on mostly the women and children. I am very impressed with what she made of her life in spite of her polygamous marriage. I think that the early LDS churc ...more
Sep 03, 2008 Annie rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: all women, particularly women
Recommended to Annie by: my sister, Audrey
I loved this book! I learned about where I come from! I couldn't put it down. Read it girls! I am not even a history buff. It was just a fascinating read about a woman I think I would have been friends with. She wrote her autobiography so very well. At times I didn't think I could turn the page for fear and horror of what was about to happen to her. Other times I couldn't stop. After reading this, I think I could have been a polygamist wife, but suffered much just as she did. I am SO grateful I ...more
Oct 15, 2010 JoLee rated it really liked it
Once again I have neglected logging the books I've been reading for far too long (darn that dissertation and my non-procrastinating ways). Luckily, I have a post-it note right here with all of them, and I will do my best to remember my thoughts.

[Book: A Mormon Mother] was Janell's pick for book club. It's the story of Annie Clark Tanner, as written for her children, of her life as a second wife to J.M. Tanner. It was enlightening and a bit disturbing. I know we are only getting one side of the s
Oct 18, 2008 Cass rated it liked it
I don't know how many stars to give this book! I have never read a book that has made me so angry as this one did! I am glad that I didn't live at that time because I don't think I could ever have been as accepting of polygamy as Annie. And, I would probably have been convicted of murder if my husband went off to study back East with two other wives in tow and left me behind with a new baby and no means of support but the good graces of other people. I now have empathy for my great-grandfather w ...more
Feb 23, 2008 Mary rated it really liked it
This book came from Nick's Grammy's shelves of books she is downsizing. I picked it up one night I couldn't sleep hoping it would be a dry one (it's an autobiography) and found myself becoming more and more alert. Over the last few months I pick it up, read a few chapters and put it down for a few days to weeks to think about. It's an autobiography of a woman born in 1860 in a polygomous home and was in a polygomous marriage herself when in 1890 the church banned members from practicing. I don't ...more
Dec 12, 2009 Jenifer rated it really liked it
"I learned years ago the folly of looking to the future for a good time. After all, it is the little things that bring the joy of living = work well done; the visit of a friend; leisure to read and to write; a book review; a ride in the country; some little improvement in the surroundings; something new; or a trip occasionally. To be able to accomplish and enjoy the common things are the greatest sources of happiness." and Annie Clark Tanner certainly provides insights to all of these little lif ...more
Bryan Cottle
Dec 19, 2010 Bryan Cottle rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Bryan by: Reading it for a class
One of my favorite Mormon Studies books of all time. Simply an amazing account of a wonderful woman who put up with a lot of stuff in her life and stayed faithful to her convictions despite trials. Annie Clark Tanner was a woman in the late 19th century who entered a polygamous marriage as a second wife right before the underground period in Mormon polygamy. In her autobiography she discusses what life was like in Utah, early Utah Saints, her polygamous lifestyle and how she kept things together ...more
Apr 15, 2008 Laura rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people interested in Mormon or Utah history
This book is so fabulous. It is the autobiography of Annie Clark Tanner, written only for her own family members, who, after many years had passed, agreed to have it published. It is a story of a woman whose life is a monument of love for her faith and her family despite the cruelties of living through the denoument of mainstream Mormon polygamy in the last part of the 19th century. I felt that I grew to know and love Annie through her sharing her tenderness and her innermost thoughts in such an ...more
May 21, 2008 Laura rated it really liked it
Recommended to Laura by: Book Club Book
Shelves: 2008, audio-book
The autobiography of a woman (the mother of O.C. Tanner) who married into a polygamous relationship just seven years before the church stopped the practice. It gives a glimpse from a very faithful woman about the history and society of polygamy. Despite becoming disillusioned with polygamy and her husband (the original president of Utah State University), she still remains a faithful and positive member of the church. She says some interesting things about the Bible, however, but I believe that ...more
Feb 12, 2008 K. rated it it was amazing
Wow. A non-anti Mormon but very in-depth look at what polygamy was really like for many of our women. She retains her faith, despite a pretty lame husband. Sshe doesn't get bitter, at life or at him. She raises 9? fine children pretty much alone, even giving birth to her second all alone (well, her 2 year old was there!).
What an amazing woman. I loved reading this book. I found it really refreshing that it wasn't anti, although I did think she had some mistaked views on the gospel at times. Hig
Kathy Bowman
Apr 25, 2008 Kathy Bowman rated it really liked it
An eye-opening view of a woman who was raised in a polygamous family, and then chose to become the second wife in a polygamous relationship. Obviously an intelligent and thoughtful person, Mrs. Tanner gives pros and cons of a polygamous vs. monogamous relationship. She also looks backward on her childhood views of polygamy with a different perspective, having experienced it as a wife this time.

I found it fascinating to see how views and even what was considered "doctrine" has changed over time.
Apr 19, 2008 Mom rated it it was amazing
This is a book about an amazing woman. She was the child of a polygamous marriage and entered into one herself just as the law started to crack down on them in Utah. She is a woman who truly grew from the hardships she experienced. A good look at how it was to live polygamy and she does a good job of comparing it to monogamy and giving her opinion of what the pros and cons of each are. She raised great children, mostly on her own. She came to know herself and what she believed and tried to live ...more
Mar 05, 2008 Melissa rated it really liked it
Wow. I am amaized at this woman's endurance and continued faith in something that she relates as being incredibly hard. This opened my eyes to things about polygomy that I either didn't realize, or didn't want to. Annie gives so much insight into life and living through trials. I wrote down a lot of her insights so that I could remember them.

Can you imagine giving birth all by yourself on th floor? I can now, and I don't know if I would have as good an attitude towards my husband afterward, but
Apr 20, 2008 Suzanne rated it it was amazing
This is a lovely autobiography of a Mormon woman, who was born in Utah (to pioneer parents) in 1864. It gives a good picture of what life was like for early settlers here, from a first person account. Annie Tanner had a difficult life. She spent many years in hiding, since she was a plural wife and could not live with her husband under the law. Despite many differences between her day and ours, some things about being a woman and a mother are universal. I really enjoyed this book.
Feb 08, 2012 Kathleen rated it liked it
This was a woman telling the story of her life as a wife in polygamy and her struggle to support herself and her ten children. She had a desire for all of her children to have an education. Her husband was a well known educator in the church but was obviously overwhelmed. The most interesting insight was the realization of what the manifesto did to young people who had fought so hard to defend polygamy. Very interesting.
Dec 16, 2007 Michelle rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mormonism
Raised in a loving and secure polygamous family as the daughter of a second wife, Annie Clark Tanner grew up to be a second wife herself, but during a time when polygamy had been forced underground. Annie is forced to raise her children on her own, with little support (financial or emotional) from her perennially absent husband. She writes with grace about the struggles that challenged, and changed, her faith.
Apr 24, 2008 Brittney rated it really liked it
Memoirs of a polygamist wife in the LDS Church during the late-19th/early-20th century in Utah. Tanner is very honest about how polygamy made her feel and how it caused her and her children to suffer, but she was also very dedicated to the LDS faith and to God. A balanced, fascinating read of Utah history, faith, perseverance, self-confidence, thinking for yourself, and the deep bond a mother has for her children.
Jul 26, 2009 Marilyn rated it really liked it
This is a true story of a woman born in polygamy who also married into polygamy. She had some of the same questions I have wondered about polygamy. It was truly a test of faith and conviction that she lived her life. Her story made me wonder about how I have lived my life with my loved ones. We all have our challenges, some more than others. Thank goodness we learn from those day to day experiences.
Feb 15, 2008 Tania rated it it was amazing
A candid, enlightening memoir written by the daughter of a second wife who became a second wife herself during the height of polygamy in 19th century Utah. In her 80's, Annie Clark Tanner realized that her grandchildren had only the vaguest notions of what polygamy had been about, so she set out to record her story. It has all the faith and all the pain wrapped up into one remarkable story.
Apr 08, 2008 Stephanie rated it liked it
I live in Farmington Utah and this book is about a polygamist woman who also lived in Farmington. Her home is still here! For our book club we drove to her home, her husbands home (the first wife) which is across the street and then we went to the city cemetary where she is burried. She really had a tough life and I'm very glad I'll never have to experience the things she had to go through.
Mar 24, 2008 Jennifer rated it really liked it
I thought this was a fascinating auto-biography about a 2nd wife who was the daughter of a 2nd wife and her choices and experiences. Although she experienced many heartbreaks and was essentially left alone to raise her 10 children, she had an amazing spirit. It was interesting to get a peak into what like was like at that time period for people who were practing polygamy.
Feb 14, 2008 Sara rated it it was amazing
I loved reading this memoir by an intelligent, faithful woman in regards to polygamy. It is interesting in that she doesn't try to convince the reader of anything--she simply tells her story with grace, simplicity, and honesty. We had an amazing book group discussion with this one and it is the best book I've read written by someone who actually practiced polygamy.
Mar 17, 2008 Trudy rated it it was amazing
I tend to give nearly every book I read pretty high ratings. This one I rate high because it broadened my world. I better understand the convictions behind polygamy during the late 1800's. I have nothing but empathy for this amazing woman. I don't envy her situation and I will NEVER be a polygamist wife, but I do hope to be like her in many ways.
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