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The 19th Wife: A Novel

A book by David Ebershoff

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Two Tales of a 19th Wife

  • Aug 2, 2010
Rating:
+4

I really enjoyed reading this book about the lives of Mormons affected by polygamy. The author switches back and forth between two compelling stories - one set in the 1800s and the start of Mormonism and one set in modern times amid a breakoff sect of polygamists. I was completely caught up in both stories and couldn't wait to see what happened in each.

The novel is set mostly in Utah, though the historical storyline begins in eastern states and follows the early Prophets Joseph Smith and Brigham Young as they gather followers and move west to build their Zion.

Each story holds as its common thread a 19th wife of a polygamist, though we learn those numbers are fluid. Ann Eliza Young, a 19th wife of Brigham Young, witnesses the heartbreak of multiple marriages as a child and seeks to avoid it in her adulthood. She ends up married to the prophet and divorces him, taking her tale of neglect to the rest of the nation. She is a real person who wrote a memoir about her experiences, entitled Wife No. 19. We also get to hear the perspectives of her family members and Brigham Young through their letters.

Jordan Scott, a 20-year-old son of a polygamist father and his 19th wife, narrates the modern tale. His mother is charged with killing her husband and Jordan helps to figure out the truth. After being kicked out of the small community in Utah six years earlier, Jordan never expected to return and revisit painful memories and people from his past. Boys are often kicked out to level out the number of available girls/women for the few men to marry. Despite Jordan's pain, he begins to form relationships and open himself up with those he meets.

Although the novel is long (500 pages), I recommend this page-turner to anyone interested in learning more about the beginnings of the Mormon religion and a good mystery.


 

Two Tales of a 19th Wife

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More The 19th Wife: A Novel reviews
Quick Tip by . June 23, 2010
This was a book selection by my book club. I found the subject manner intriguing, but the book was not compelling. It was easy to read, but not in a good way. Very basic writing at best.
review by . November 23, 2009
While I was hooked and could not put this book down, the intertwined stories were a bit confusing. I thought they would at least meet up or connect somehow, which I suppose they do rather loosely, but not enough. It would have flowed better, imho, had the stories been written seperate rather than bouncing back and forth.    That said, I enjoyed reading the historical journey of the Firsts and how they were founded. While it said many times this is fiction, I felt as though what …
review by . November 14, 2008
David Ebershoff's The 19th Wife is a big book - from its nearly 600-page length, to its fascinating recounting of the epic early days of the Mormon religion, to the multitude of first-person voices so deftly handled by Ebershoff, and on to the vast amount of research material (both real and fictional) that was used to breathe life into so many memorable characters. But most importantly, it is a big book because of the way that it so seamlessly combines current news events so many of us have followed …
review by . September 03, 2008
Ebershoff, David. "The 19th Wife", Random House, 2008.    Two Stories of Polygamy    Amos Lassen    News reports claim that Mormonism is the fastest growing religion in America and I would venture to say that it is also the religion that we, as a nation, know the least about. David Ebershoff fills some of the gap in that knowledge with "The 19th Wife", his novel that gives some of the history of the Mormons. Ebershoff gives two storylines …
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Amanda Becker ()
Ranked #1130
Member Since: Jul 21, 2010
Last Login: Aug 4, 2010 03:36 PM UTC
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Starred Review. This sweeping epic is a compelling and original work set in 1875, when one woman attempts to rid America of polygamy. Ebershoff intertwines his tale with that of a 20th-century murder mystery in Utah, allowing the two stories to twist and turn into a marvelous literary experience. With such a sprawling tale to relate, a few narrators (Kimberly Farr, Rebecca Lowman, Arthur Morey and Daniel Passer) divide up the roles and deliver a solid, professional reading, true to Ebershoffs prose.A Random House hardcover (Reviews, June 23). (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.--This text refers to theAudio CDedition.
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Details

ISBN-10: 1400063973
ISBN-13: 978-1400063970
Author: David Ebershoff
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Random House
First to Review

"Two Tales of Polygamy"
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