An Ancestral Mystery
Judith Keeling Book
Published by: Texas Tech University Press
Imprint: Texas Tech University Press
Sales Date: August 2020
- Published: August 2020
- Published: July 2020
Since her groundbreaking memoir In My Father’s House, which recounts an agonizing break from fundamentalist polygamy, Dorothy Allred Solomon has continued to publish on the lives of Mormon women and the dissonance many experience in connection to fundamentalist pasts. The more Solomon delved into issues of agency, the more she felt her own dissonance and began to look for answers in her ancestral past—those early women she knew only through family stories. Finding Karen: An Ancestral Mystery springs from a decade of research into Solomon’s paternal great-great grandmother Karen Sorensen Rasmussen, who converted to Mormonism in Denmark and emigrated to the United States in 1859. Held up to Solomon throughout childhood as an icon of feminine heroism, a stoic handcart immigrant who helped establish Zion in Utah, Karen became equally emblematic of Solomon’s own strong-willed determination and of everything Solomon found lacking in herself. Finding Karen is a revelatory journey, twinned with Solomon’s own in surprising ways. As valuable a study in recovering history as it is in the need to re-examine family stories, Solomon’s retelling takes readers through the twists and turns of discovery/recovery as she encounters them. In doing so, she illuminates not only the risk inherent in trusting even what persists as historic record but also the insights to be gained from assiduous persistence.