Review: The Glovemaker by Ann Weisgarber

Title: The Glovemaker by Ann Weisgarber
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Genre: Historical, Mystery
Length: 312 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss


In the inhospitable lands of the Utah Territory, during the winter of 1888, thirty-seven-year-old Deborah Tyler waits for her husband, Samuel, to return home from his travels as a wheelwright. It is now the depths of winter, Samuel is weeks overdue, and Deborah is getting worried.

Deborah lives in Junction, a tiny town of seven Mormon families scattered along the floor of a canyon, and she earns her living by tending orchards and making work gloves. Isolated by the red-rock cliffs that surround the town, she and her neighbors live apart from the outside world, even regarded with suspicion by the Mormon faithful who question the depth of their belief.

When a desperate stranger who is pursued by a Federal Marshal shows up on her doorstep seeking refuge, it sets in motion a chain of events that will turn her life upside down. The man, a devout Mormon, is on the run from the US government, which has ruled the practice of polygamy to be a felony. Although Deborah is not devout and doesn’t subscribe to polygamy, she is distrustful of non-Mormons with their long tradition of persecuting believers of her wider faith.

But all is not what it seems, and when the Marshal is critically injured, Deborah and her husband’s best friend, Nels Anderson, are faced with life and death decisions that question their faith, humanity, and both of their futures.


Set in 1888, The Glovemaker by Ann Weisgarber is an engrossing historical novel that offers a fascinating glimpse of the Mormon faith.

Thirty-seven year old Deborah Tyler is growing increasingly concerned about her missing husband, Samuel. He left months earlier on his annual journey as a wheelwright.  She has not received the usual letters he sends to her but she is reassured by her step-brother-in-law and friend Nels Anderson. Nels’ theory is a rock slide forced Samuel to turn around and take a much longer route home.  Enough time has passed that they believe Samuel will be home any day. However, their lives are upended when Nels and Deborah help a polygamist evade capture by a federal Marshal.  After an altercation leaves the Marshal  fighting for his life, Deborah and Nels do everything they can to protect themselves and their close-knit community from any future harm.  Both remain on edge as they wait for the  Marshal’s traveling partners to  make their way to their enclave. At the same time,  Deborah’s fears for Samuel’s safety intensify as he fails to return home.

Deborah and Samuel adhere to many tenets of their Mormon faith but they decided to join Nels in Junction, Utah due to their dissatisfaction with some elements of their religion.  Joined by a few more families, they still practice their faith but in a more relaxed fashion.  With the exception of one family, the small community does not believe in polygamy. In fact, Nels, Deborah and Samuel provide assistance to polygamists who are fleeing deputies who have warrants for their arrest.

While anxiously awaiting Samuel’s return, Deborah offers assistance to one of these men. She is very uneasy since few deputies pursue polygamists during the winter months.  Sheltering him for one worrisome night, Deborah sends him to Nels who will take him to safety. Apprehensive the snow-covered ground will reveal their assistance, she takes steps to conceal that he was on her premises. Deborah’s fears are realized when the Marshall shows up and confronts her with the evidence that she aided the fugitive.

The situation quickly turns dire when Nels seeks Deborah’s help for the gravely injured Marshall. Despite Nels’ best efforts to protect her, she quickly realizes they are in serious jeopardy.  Although she would rather not help the Marshall, Deborah’s faith will not allow her to abandon him in his time of need.  After her worst fears about his condition are realized, Deborah and Nels do everything they can to protect themselves and the other residents from future repercussions.

Based on true life events, The Glovemaker is a well-written and engaging historical novel. The pacing is a little slow but this adds to the overall tension as the events play out against harsh weather conditions in an extremely isolated area. Deborah and Nels are well-developed characters whose compassion for others could lead to their downfall.  Ann Weisgarber provides a sensitive and nuanced portrayal of a little known time in Mormon history.  A well-researched and thought-provoking novel that I greatly enjoyed and highly recommend.

Comments Off on Review: The Glovemaker by Ann Weisgarber

Filed under Ann Weisgarber, Historical, Rated B, Review, Sky Pony Press, The Glovemaker

Comments are closed.