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The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff

The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff

19th WifeWhat a fascinating book.
The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff is based on the life of Ann Eliza Young, the 19th wife of Brigham Young, then president of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints. A clearly well researched novel, Ebershoff provides a thorough historical perspective on the beginnings and ends of polygamy in Mormonism. The Ann Eliza story – rooted in facts – is told parallel to that of fictional Jordan Scott. Jordan is a young gay man recently ousted from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS), an offshoot sect that functions outside of the Mormon Church. Jordan’s mother, BeckyLyn, was the 19th wife of a present-day polygamist leader in Utah and has been arrested for her husband’s murder. Jordan and a cast of outcasts attempt to clear BeckyLyn of murder charges.
I listened to this book on a long, solo car trip, and always looked forward to getting back into the car after my (many) stops. The characters are complete and complicated, as are the issues. My only hesitation in recommending The 19th Wife is that I didn’t actually have to read all of the dry documentation. I just listened to it, and listening to it for miles and miles got me through my trip. Had I been sitting in my living room reading those sections, I may have fallen asleep.
Still, Ann Eliza Young was quite the woman. Her decision to sue Brigham Young for divorce was the beginning of the end of polygamy in the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints when residents of Utah were forced by Washington D.C. to choose between polygamy and statehood. And the present-day story of Jordan and friends is compelling and bittersweet.
Let me know what you think of The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff. This title is available through the Metro Library Network in the following formats: Book on CD, Book, Large Print, Book Club Kit, and eBook.

One Comment

  1. I agree that Ebershoff’s novel is an engaging work. Gritty and entertaining, as novels should be.

    Hugh O'Brien
    Sep 17, 2013 Reply

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