You know how I was going on about reading a book before it was released? Super naughty, I know. Well, this was it – Daughter of Gloriavale!
You wouldn’t believe it unless you read it, but here in little ol’ New Zealand, we have one hell of a religious cult over on the west coast of the South Island. It’s called Gloriavale, and is very well-known for its uniforms and strict rules.
A few years back, TV1 made a documentary about life in Gloriavale, and New Zealand became obsessed with it. Their accents were different, they arranged marriages because God said so, all the women had to act meek, submissive and obey their husbands and church leaders. This led on to another doco about marriage in Gloriavale and these have now become the most watched documentaries in New Zealand history.
So when I heard that there was going to be a tell-all, insider story of life in Gloriavale, I was thrilled! This community facinated me and I was even more intrigued with how they treated those that left the community.
This memoir is written by Lilia Tarawa. She was born into Gloriavale and was raised there until her departure with her family in her mid-teens.
Lilia tells us about life in the cult. The domestic duties of the women include making breakfast, lunch and dinner from scratch for all 500+ members, cleaning the commune bathrooms and kitchens, bearing as many children as God allows, helping with childbirth, serving their husbands and church leaders. The community all work for eachother, so no one is paid a wage and all work is done for the good of the community. Gloriavale have numerous businesses and boast million dollar buildings and profit from the running of these businesses – I guess it’s all profit when everyone works for free.
No Christmas, no birthdays. No worldy clothing, music, small possessions we all take for granted like perfume or chewing gum or headphones. The women do not shave, they do not cut their hair and must wear the blue uniforms.
The leaders promote the teachings of God to their own agenda, brain-washing the members into submission until they all truly believe they will go to hell for the most simplest of misdemeanours. Lilia has troublesome silblings who, one by one, leave Gloriavale. This means the family cannot think about, pray for or even talk about those family members again. You go against the church, you don’t exist.
Slowly Lilia begins to unravel the Gloriavale belief system and finds that perhaps it isn’t how she wants to live her life. This takes a lot of courage, a lot of power to push back against the church and a lot of hard work to find herself and move forward with her life.
I highly recommend you read this memoir. It will put your life into perspective and provide you with one hell of a story of bravery and fearlessness that you can’t help but admire.
Categories: Book Review
Bookstore Manager by day, reader and writer by night.
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other people who work with books,
sniffing books and photographing books.