Mormon and Cedar City History Come Alive at Author Reading

Published: September 20, 2019 | Read Time: 2 minutes

Nadene LecheminantSouthern Utah University’s Gerald R. Sherratt Library will host Oregon author Nadene LeCheminant for a reading from her book The Gates of Eden, a historical novel set in Cedar City, Utah. The reading will be held Tuesday, September 24, at 6 p.m. on the Library’s lower Garden Level. This free event is open to students, faculty, staff, and community members.

The Gates of Eden is a sweeping tale rich in historical detail,” IndieReader wrote. “LeCheminant is a gifted storyteller, her prose elegant and finely crafted.”

The book was inspired by the author’s great-great-grandmother, who converted to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and journeyed from Victorian England to the Utah Territory in 1856. In that remote desert kingdom, she became the child bride of an older polygamist.

The book illuminates the lives of women and girls in 19th-century Cedar City, and introduces readers to the fictional Josephine Bell. Her coming-of-age story is grounded in three of the most heartbreaking and colorful years in the history of the American West. Between 1856 and 1858, several hundred impoverished immigrants perished on the first handcart trek. New European converts arrived in Utah to a fiery Mormon Reformation, and as federal soldiers marched on Utah, rising tensions culminated in the tragic Mountain Meadows Massacre. Against this backdrop, Josephine’s struggle to find her own path takes her to unexpected places.

“The author’s stunning imagery and command of Mormon history lend power to a gripping story. I was mesmerized,” said Jane Parnell, author of Off Trail: Finding My Way Home in the Colorado Rockies.

LeCheminant’s love of the southern Utah desert — the backdrop for much of The Gates of Eden — was nurtured on a bare-bones survival trip, during which she walked several hundred miles across the Utah wilderness without a sleeping bag, tent or canteen.

LeCheminant has degrees in both history and art from Utah State University. As a university writer and magazine editor, she has been recognized with eight top-tier CASE writing awards, and as a public speaker, she has provided communications strategies to national and regional nonprofit organizations.

The presentation is sponsored by the Gerald R. Sherratt Library and SUU’s Women and Gender Studies Program, which celebrates the accomplishments of women past and present. Learn more about The Gates of Eden on LeCheminant’s website.

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