First edition of the first Mormon romance novel published in book form, a historical romance set during the 1857 Utah War.
Very good plus.
JOHN STEVENS' COURTSHIP
"The United States is sending an army to destroy us […] The United States is sending an army against the Saints"
Susa Young Gates was born one year before the year of her novel, the daughter of Brigham Young, then President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS, or "Mormons"), and his 22nd wife, Lucy Bigelow. Her father is a prominent character in the book, a steady, able, and paternal leader amidst the crisis the small community faces when United States troops come to occupy the territory. The settlement fears the worst in the face of the invading army and, in 1857, these fears were not unfounded. Mormons had first migrated West because of attacks against their settlements, including state-sponsored violence.
By 1909, the hardships of the earliest Mormon converts were becoming mythologized, taking on a legendary status that they still hold today among many members of the church. Gates's book actively takes part in that process, using the romance structure as a vehicle both to communicate the values of Mormon culture and to reinforce the Mormon vision of its earliest days as a community of righteous truth seekers, oppressed simply for their beliefs. (The institution of polygamy, one of the primary reasons President Buchanan sent US troops into the territory – a political manuever to take the focus off his party's support of slavery – is directly mentioned only by characters who the narrative has already singled out as bad.) The hero, who is at first unattractive to the heroine because he's so good that he's rather dull, becomes more and more appealing to the heroine in the midst of the existential threat to their community. The novel ends with a nod to the most romantic aspect of Mormon doctrine, in which marriages are performed to last literally through eternity: "Why, I have just begun to court my wife [...] the courting, to be well done, must never end, but continue throughout long eternities" (377).
Salt Lake City, Utah: The Deseret News, 1909. Octavo. 7'' x 4.5''. Original green cloth, gilt-lettered spine and front board. Photographic frontispiece. viii, 377,  pages. Corners and spine ends bumped, with some light rubbing to boards. Interior clean, hinges strong.
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