Mabel Finlayson Allred was a wife of Rulon Allred, leader of the Apostolic United Brethren, one of the major groups of fundamentalist Mormons who, since about the 1930s, have practiced plural marriage as separatists from the mainstream Latter-day Saints Church.
Mabel’s autobiography maintains a mood of everyday normalcy strikingly in contrast with the stress of the ostracized life she was living. Her cheerful tone, expressive of her wish to live simply and gracefully in this world, is tempered by more somber descriptions of her personal struggle with clinical depression, of Rulon Allred’s inner struggles, of tensions with the law and with Allred’s fundamentalist colleagues, and ultimately by her forthright account of his assassination.
Emerging from this unique narrative is the portrait of a woman buoyed by faith in both her religion and her husband, a window into the interior life of a woman seeking a resilient simplicity in an uncommonly challenging life. Plural Wife, conntextualized by Martha Bradley’s introduction, gives us insight into Mabel’s experience of history during an important period of the 20th century and advances our understanding of life ways of 20th century polygamy and the growth of the fundamentalist movement.