The Glovemaker

Written by Ann Weisgarber
Review by Jessica Brockmole

Ann Weisgarber excels at the slowly unfurling tale, where the characters’ waiting and indecision build tension as deftly as any action sequence. The Glovemaker, a quiet story set in a small canyon-bound community of Latter-Day Saints, is no exception.

It’s deep in the winter of 1888, and Deborah Tyler waits for her husband, Samuel, a traveling wheelwright who is late returning from his seasonal circuit. Though he promised he’d be home by the first of December, it’s January, and Deborah misses him immensely. A knock on her door one snowy night brings―not Samuel nor one of the months-old letters still trickling in from the hinterlands, but a stranger—a polygamist on the run from the U.S. marshals. She reluctantly offers him shelter, like Samuel and his brother Nels had done for other fugitive polygamists before escorting them to the next point of refuge. But, unlike the other frightened men, this stranger brings trouble with him, trouble that threatens the peaceful isolation of their community and tests the fragile trust that Deborah and Nels hold for one another. As Deborah continues to watch the horizon for Samuel’s return, she also warily watches it for the danger she’s sure is coming.

Though this is not a book without violence, much of its disquiet comes from what the characters can’t see or feel, from their nervous anticipation of what threats—to their lives, their souls, and their isolation—might lie just beyond the horizon. With Deborah we hold our breath, we pace, we feel the bite of the winter air. Her patience is not passivity; rather she’s fierce in her quiet determination. The plot holds few surprises, but the characters balance secrets, both from each other and from the reader. A skillful read, beautifully evocative of time and place. Highly recommended.