"THE NEPHITE WIFE," by LeAnn B. Larson, Bonneville Books, $15.99, 224 pages (f)
With “The Nephite Wife,” author LeAnn B. Larson creates a novel told through the eyes of the wife of Nephi, son of Helaman, that the author has named Leila. The story unfolds from the perspective of a wife, mother and Nephite woman living amid the turmoil, politics and war that occurred during the time period.
The book opens with an intimate story of Leila and a beloved horse colt and chronicles her life as the wife of a Nephite leader, telling the stories of her husband, children, horse and the other characters along the way. The story evolves through the book with familiar Book of Mormon-type war and political stories and scenes used as plot guideposts, but they are always seen through the perspective of Leila and what it might have been like in her shoes — examining everything in her life from throwing government dinners to experiencing betrayal and war.
Based on events detailed in the Book of Mormon in Helaman 3 through 3 Nephi 1, readers will find references to Captain Moroni, Moronihah and the Gadianton robbers throughout novel as hyperdetailed versions of the events in the book of Helaman unfold through Leila’s eyes.
Similar books, such as the popular Tennis Shoes Among the Nephites series, have visited this topic before, and filmmakers have even attempted to translate the epic stories of the Book of Mormon onto the big screen. Readers interested in a fictionalized and expanded version of Book of Mormon events will find their imaginations come to life through “The Nephite Wife.”
There are references to war, blood, robberies and murders but in a general, referential way. Injuries and scenes of conflict are referred to, but nothing is graphically or violently described in the novel. It is a pretty clean book, especially when considering it takes place during wartime.
Considering this is Larson’s first attempt at fiction, it is a fine story, and readers will find authenticity and warmth through the principal character and a lively imagined telling of life during Nephite times throughout the novel.