"A tale that makes you ponder"
In late nineteenth century New Zealand, William McQuiggan,
a victim of child abuse, strikes out at those who love him
such as his wife Myra. William finds solace only in
alcohol. However, while working in the hated fields, a
drunken William sees a vision. He decides to go on a quest
in search of God.
William leaves behind his pregnant wife and journeys across
the Pacific to Utah where he joins the Mormons. When he
concludes that religion as bogus, he tries the Jehovah's
Witnesses, but feels that movement is a sham. He next
heads to Illinois to join Dr. Alexander Dowie's Zion City
utopia before souring on that faction. While on his
American adventure, his wife and twin children finally join
him and soon more children follow. He becomes further
unhinged until he returns home in a last ditch effort to
reach God through his own church.
Stephanie Johnson paints a dark work of historical fiction
in that there is little hope beyond bleakness even for
those who believe in God. The story line is vivid as it
describes several locales, the era, and religions with
clarity and depth. William is a wonderfully drawn
character whose slow descent into a self-made hell makes
BELIEF work though readers will tire of the abused Myra
traipsing after her man.
Reviewed by PNR Group Member
Posted April 11, 2002
In 1899, while clearing bush on his poor New Zealand farm,
William McQuiggan experiences an epiphany. Shortly
thereafter, he leaves his young Australian wife Myra and
newborn twins and travels to America in search of God.
Belief is the story of William's journey and his marriage
to Myra, who follows him from Auckland to Salt Lake City,
Utah, and Zion City, Illinois. With each leg of the
journey, the family grows until William is the reluctant
father of six. During their travels, Myra comes up against
her husband's religious zealotry and his slow but
inevitable mental disintegration. Spanning 17 years, three
countries, and three religions, Belief heralds the US debut
of a remarkable writer with a vivid evocation of a bygone
way of life.