Don’t You Marry the Mormon Boys – Synopsis
When students Andy McBride and Louisa Martin meet and fall in love at the University of Utah Medical School, one insurmountable issue stands between them: polygamy. A product of mainstream Mormon culture, Andy’s upbringing is in sharp contrast to Louisa’s. She comes from Gabriel’s Landing, Utah, a polygamist community that left the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the late 1800s over the church’s ban on polygamy. To worsen the situation, Andy’s father is an Assistant Attorney General who prosecutes high profile polygamy cases. Andy cannot embrace Louisa’s culture and she cannot escape it. They know they have no future together, and following a bitter argument they part after medical school graduation.
After four years of residency, Andy settles in Hawthorn Valley, Kentucky, with his dog, Eliza R. Snow. Louisa returns home to her large polygamous family in Gabriel’s Landing: Joshua Martin, the father she loves and respects, his plural wives Hannah and Sarah, and her numerous siblings. Once again in the warm, harmonious home of her childhood, Louisa is determined to bring improved medical care to her people, who fear and mistrust “Gentiles” or outsiders. Joshua will not agree to an arranged marriage for Louisa, a match he deems unsuitable. He is disciplined by the Council of Brothers, which governs temporal and spiritual matters.
Louisa is soon in trouble with the Council of Brothers as well, for addressing her patients’ questions about contraception and diagnosing depression. When she voices her concerns about these issues as well as birth defects caused by close relatives marrying, the Council accuses her of encouraging wives to be disobedient to their husbands, behavior that cannot be tolerated in Gabriel’s strict patriarchal society. Then a battered patient files charges against her husband. Louisa documents the injuries, and the town becomes the subject of widespread media uproar. As a result of the outrage she causes, Louisa leaves Gabriel’ Landing and takes a new job in Salt Lake City.
In Hawthorn Valley, Andy treats Molly Rawlins, a pregnant unwed teenager. Andy sends her to a foster home in Salt Lake City, where she becomes Louisa’s patient. She tells Louisa about “Doc Andy back home,” and writes to Andy about her “beautiful Dr. Martin,” and both re-live the heartache of their parting.
Quite by surprise Andy and Louisa meet at a medical convention in Chicago and Andy’s bitterness about their failed relationship, festering for more than four years, finally explodes. He voices his resentment loudly and makes a scene. He tries to apologize the next time he’s in Sale Lake City, but Louisa’s out of town. She takes the LDS missionary discussions and is approved for baptism.
Andy travels to Finland for a month-long exchange program. At the last moment, Louisa’s employer sends her, too, to replace another physician, and her baptism must be delayed. As Andy and Louisa never expect to see each other again, their meeting is awkward. At first they argue. Then they resolve their misunderstandings and eventually forgive each other. Andy baptizes and confirms Louisa and they are married while they are in Finland. Their families do not take the news well, but Louisa’s father eventually is reconciled.
Andy and Louisa return to Kentucky and share his growing practice in Hawthorn Valley. Ten months after the marriage, Andy’s parents pay a surprise visit to Hawthorn Valley. They ask for Louisa’s forgiveness, and she is quick to give it.
Shortly after their first wedding anniversary, Louisa gives birth to twins Alex and Lauren. When the twins are three, Bo Rawlins is released from prison. He marries his pen pal, Jane, a woman with more money than common sense, and he lures Alex and Lauren into her car with a puppy, telling Jane and the twins that he’s their “Uncle Bo,” and they’re going to see “Grandpa Cole” McBride in Salt Lake City. They’ll fly to Las Vegas first, where Bo will win some money in the casinos, and then drive the twins to Salt Lake City (where Bo will pick up another tidy sum in the form of a ransom). Jane, who adores the twins, is an unwitting accomplice.
In Hawthorn Valley, a frantic search begins for the children. Grilling by the FBI turns up no leads until Miss Carolina reminds Andy that he does have an enemy: Bo Rawlins. The FBI discovers Bo has been released from jail early, and his cellmate reveals Bo’s plans to abduct the twins.
However, Bo is not an easy one to catch, and the authorities are always one step behind him. Not as smart as the average criminal, he’s also unpredictable. In Las Vegas he has a series of disasters at the poker tables while indulgent, clueless Jane entertains the twins, who still think they’re on a vacation.
The FBI stakes out the McBride home and Joshua Martin arrives from Gabriel’s Landing. Momentary awkwardness is put aside as they await news of the twins. Bo calls Cole with instructions to leave the ransom money in a package at the back door of “the church.” Though he’s directed to several LDS chapels in the area, he doesn’t find the right one and calls Cole again, naively gives a description of his car and surroundings. Finally pinpointing his location, FBI agents impersonating Mormon missionaries quickly capture Bo. Cole and Joshua are hurried to the van to retrieve the twins, who have seen nothing of Bo’s capture. Jane collapses when she learns the truth about her husband’s plot and her unwitting role in it, but her sister Mabel comes to her aid.
When Andy and Louisa arrive at the McBride home a few hours later, they find their fathers asleep side by side in recliners, each with a sleeping child in his arms. The next morning, Cole and Joshua share breakfast and the beginning of a friendship. Andy and Louisa awake, amazed to see their fathers engaged in a relaxed, joking conversation. Alex and Lauren wake up to the smell of Grandma’s pecan rolls and ask if they can sing for their grandparents. It’s a song their father taught them, Don’t You Marry the Mormon Boys:
Gather round girls and listen to my noise,
Don’t you marry the Mormon boys.
If you do your fortune it will be
Johnnycake and babies is all you’ll see.
Don't You Marry the Mormon Boys, Mormonism, Polygamy, Janet Kay Jensen