From the Beginning

In 1957, faith, destiny, and accidents, all collide in the protagonist’s life to tame her aspirations: “Emma never forgot the aroma of that dream, the fiery kisses of red chili peppers activating her taste buds, preparing her to enjoy the rich texture of his lips. That mischievous burning remained in her long after she woke up and found him gone. It stayed in her as vividly as their first touch, for years and years.” So begins Emma Harris’s tale, a meditation not only on life choices, but also on the resilience of the human spirit.


When her first love is not realized, Emma marries returned missionary Spencer Harris. Their marriage is a comfortable haven that lasts more than four decades. Years after becoming a widow, while hospitalized after a stroke, she meets Dimitri Kross, an Estonian violinist. All the certainties in Emma’s life are thrown into turmoil when she decides to marry for the second time in her life.


Joy Pratt, Emma’s daughter, Relief Society president and prescription drug addict, deals with her own marital havoc. As her husband obtains a position with the Church in Mexico, she strives to overcome the stress of the move and her mother’s impending wedding. Jena Debhi, Emma’s granddaughter, self-defined “a granola Mormon” and mother of two biracial daughters, is consumed with reconciling her faith with her Church’s history. Joy’s sisters-in-law, Ramona and Lupita Pratt, are also part of Emma’s life. Ramona, an opinionated, staunch Mormon, pregnant with her eighth child and a prisoner of her domestic life, joins Joy in her efforts to stop Emma’s wedding. To the contrary, Lupita, an exuberant Mexican woman, who has returned to the United States illegally after being deported, becomes Emma’s greatest ally. Remaining neutral, Wendy Pratt, married to Joy’s son, seems so concerned with appearances and materialistic goods that her family considers her a simpleton, yet she may be the Pratt wife who hides the most scandalous secret.


Miguel Santana’s elegant prose paints a human portrait of six women determined and troubled, vulnerable and yet spirited. Gastronomic lineages, family dramas, and political viewpoints mix with self-analysis to keep you intrigued. Aside from what can be gained or lost when personal beliefs conflict with the reality we choose, Santana seems to invite us to take a look into the cultural and religious space in which he was raised. He presents us with a narrative that moves beyond entertainment and forces us to reconsider what we know about Mormons.


Righteous Housewives was originally conceived as a stage play. The play made its World Premiere in Salt Lake City, Utah, the summer of 2013. A preliminary and abbreviated version of this novel titled The Righteous and Very Real Housewives of Utah County was sold during the play's run. The hard cover edition above is not for sale. A Limited Collector's Edition of 50 copies has been produced for the sponsors and artistic ensemble of the theatrical version.