Camilla Fox is alive, having been rescued from a near-fatal snowstorm after leaving her home to escape the Mormon faith she no longer calls her own. Now, as she regains her strength under the personal care of United States Army Colonel Charles Brandon, thoughts of the two children she left behind flood her mind, threatening to break her heart.
Camilla is desperate to reunite with her daughters and does not want them to grow up under Mormon teachings, but she cannot provide a home for them on her own, and she will not share her husband with a sister wife. As spring arrives, Camilla returns to Salt Lake City ready to fight… and she won’t back down until she’s brought her children safely to the other side.
We first met Camilla in For Time and Eternity when she met Nathan Fox and ran away with him and the group of Mormons with whom he was traveling. Camilla had been raised in a strict home where she was required to memorize large Bible passages as part of her home education. Feeling trapped, she saw Nathan and his group as an escape. She married him, gave birth to three children (the boy died almost immediately) and was baptized into the Mormon church. She thought she would be with Nathan forever, never dreaming he would take another wife. The Mormon Reformation of 1856 and 1857, however, changed Nathan’s mind. He took a second wife, Amanda. Heartbroken, and now doubting much of the Mormon teaching, Camilla was ‘encouraged’ to leave. Forsaking All Others picks up immediately where the first book finished.
In order to fully appreciate the second part of Camilla’s story, which takes place between 1858 and 1859, you need to know the historical background. Allison Pittman makes allusions to some of the factual happenings of the time – including the burial of the temple foundations in Salt Lake City and Brigham Young’s fall from power – but I didn’t understand these references until I researched the so-called Utah War afterwards. Indeed, it is the replacement of Young as Governor of Utah that makes the conditions as right as they can be for Camilla to return and claim her daughters.
This is not only a novel of LDS church history. It is also a tale of homecoming and redemption. As Camilla returns to the faith of her childhood – and discovers what it really means – she is wary of how she might be received by her family. She is also scarred, not just emotionally but also physically thanks to her snowstorm adventure. With her divorce made final, she feels she will be damaged goods and contemplates marriage to a man she doesn’t love. Mormon teaching led her to believe she could only be called into heaven by her husband. Thankfully, she comes to see that she isn’t worthless in God’s eyes and that He will provide for her family. “Why should I doubt that everything God has given me would forever be enough?”
The end of the story isn’t wrapped into a neat little bow. In fact, the book ends while Camilla is still in Salt Lake City. I was curious about what happened after. There were many plot points left unanswered. Did her daughters transition to life without their father? After Amanda’s confession, did she also leave Nathan and the church? If Camilla’s lawyer stayed in Salt Lake City to help other women in similar circumstances, as was hinted, was Amanda one of those he helped? How the looming Civil War impact the characters? The prologue set in 1896 answers none of those questions and there is no epilogue.
Publisher: Tyndale House
Page Count: 400
Release Date: 01 October 2011
I received my free copy of Forsaking All Others from Tyndale House in exchange for an honest review.