Faith, I tell them, is a mystery, elusive to many, and never easy to explain.Sweeping and lyrical, spellbinding and unforgettable, David Ebershoff's The 19th Wife combines epic historical fiction with a modern murder mystery to create a brilliant novel of literary suspense. It is 1875, and Ann Eliza Young has recently separated from her powerful husband, Brigham Young, prophet and leader of the Mormon Church. Expelled and an outcast, Ann Eliza embarks on a crusade to end polygamy in the United States. A rich account of a family's polygamous history is revealed, including how a young woman became a plural wife.Soon after Ann Eliza's story begins, a second exquisite narrative unfolds a tale of murder involving a polygamist family in present-day Utah. Jordan Scott, a young man who was thrown out of his fundamentalist sect years earlier, must reenter the world that cast him aside in order to discover the truth behind his father's death.And as Ann Eliza's narrative intertwines with that of Jordan's search, readers are pulled deeper into the mysteries of love and faith.From the Hardcover edition.
This exquisite tour de force explores the dark roots of polygamy and its modern-day fruit in a renegade cult not recognized by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (aka the Mormon church). Ebershoff (The Danish Girl) brilliantly blends a haunting fictional narrative by Ann Eliza Young, the real-life 19th "rebel" wife of Mormon leader Brigham Young, with the equally compelling contemporary narrative of fictional Jordan Scott, a 20-year-old gay man whose mother, another 19th wife, is accused of murdering his polygamist father, a member of the fundamentalist First Latter-day Saints, in Mesadale, Ariz. Excommunicated from the church at 14, Jordan tirelessly works, with help from local sympathizers, to unmask his father's true killer. In an author's note, Ebershoff explains how his character differs from the actual Ann Eliza, who published two autobiographies, the first of which helped put pressure on the Mormon church to renounce polygamy in 1890. With the topic of plural marriage and its shattering impact on women and powerless children in today's headlines, this novel is essential reading for anyone seeking understanding of the subject. (Aug.)
Copyright (c) Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.
Showing 1-3 of the 3 most recent reviews
1 . Interesting
Posted March 17, 2011 by Shelley , MeadowbrookI really enjoyed the approach the author took, by working back and forth between the time of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, and Ann Eliza to today and the plight of polygamous women today.
What I found, however, was that the author spent too much time dwelling in the historical perspective, dragging the individuals' fictionalized stories on and on. I would like to see a revised version with a bit less of the past. I found myself skipping ahead through the time of Brigham Young, impatient to find out what would happen to the modern characters, and tiring of the writing style which seemed to change little from one character to the next.
At the same time, I enjoyed the subject matter a great deal, and enjoyed learning about Ann Eliza.
In my own life, I have had opportunity to meet with many modern day Mormons, and I think highly of every one of them. I have also had opportunity to cross paths with those who live in a polygamous community, and some who chose to leave that life. I admire the women who stand up for what they believe. But I also understand that for some who live in that world, it really is everything they know.
2 . A GOOD READ
Posted October 14, 2009 by NANCY HALL , CALGARYVery informative about the history of mormonism. The characters were well-defined enough so that you cared about what happened to them next. Going between two times in history was well-crafted.
3 . Engaging
Posted August 22, 2008 by Eric , New York CityEbershoff presents a great book with a plot taking place in two different periods of time. One in the time of the beginning of the Mormon church and the other taking place in modern times. This book is loosely based on historical fact interwoven with the story of the victims of celestial marriage (polygamy). I learned a great deal about how the Mormon church began, its eventual colonization of Salt Lake City and the evolution of celestial marriage and its abandonment. I had a hard time putting this book down (turning off my reader). First the first few paragraphs I knew I was in for a great story. I was sad when I finished this great book.
August 03, 2008
Number of Print Pages*
Adobe DRM EPUB
* Number of eBook pages may differ. Click here for more information.
Excerpt from The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff
I TWO WIVES The 19th Wife Preface to the First Edition In the one year since I renounced my Mormon faith, and set out to tell the nation the truth about American polygamy, many people have wondered why I ever agreed to become a plural wife. Everyone I meet, whether farmer, miner, railman, professor, cleric, or the long-faced Senator, and most especially the wives of these-everyone wants to know why I would submit to a marital practice so filled with subjugation and sorrow. When I tell them my father has five wives, and I was raised to believe plural marriage is the will of God, these sincere people often ask,But Mrs. Young-how could you believe such a claim? Faith, I tell them, is a mystery, elusive to many, and never easy to explain. Now, with the publication of this autobiography, my enemies will no doubt suspect my motives. Having survived attempts on both my life and character, however, I stand unconcerned by their assaults. I have chosen to commit my memories to the page neither for fame, the trough from which I have drunk and would be happy never to return to, nor fortune, although it is true I am without home and have two small boys to care for. Simply, I wish to expose the tragic state of polygamy's women, who must live in a bondage not seen in this country since the abolishment of slavery a decade ago; and to reveal the lamentable situation of its children, lonely as they are. I promise my Dear Reader I shall recount my story truthfully, even when it distresses me to do so. In these pages you will come to know my mother, who by religious duty welcomed four wives into her husband's bed. You will encounter the old woman forced to share her husband with a girl one-fifth her age. And you shall meet the gentleman with so many wives that when one approaches him on the street, he answers, "Madame, do I know you?" I can, and will, go on. Under what circumstances does such outrage thrive? The Territory of Utah, glorious as it may be, spiked by granite peaks and red jasper rocks, cut by echoing canyons and ravines, spread upon a wide basin of gamma grass and wandering streams, this land of blowing snow and sand, of iron, copper, and the great salten sea-Utah, whose scarlet-golden beauty marks the best of God's handiwork-the Territory of Utah stands defiant as a Theocracy within the borders of our beloved Democracy, imperium in imperio. I write not for sensation, but for Truth. I leave judgment to the hearts of my good Readers everywhere. I am but one, yet to this day countless others lead lives even more destitute and enslaved than mine ever was. Perhaps my story is the exception because I escaped, at great risk, polygamy's conjugal chains; and that my husband is the Mormon Church's Prophet and Leader, Brigham Young, and I am his 19th, and final, wife. Sincerely Yours, Ann Eliza Young Summer 1874 Wife #19: A Desert Mystery By Jordan Scott Prologue Her Golden Boy According to theSt. George Register, on a clear night last June, at some time between eleven and half-past, my mom-who isn't anything like this-tiptoed down to the basement of the house I grew up in with a Golden Boy .22 in her hands. At the foot of the stairs she knocked on the door to my dad's den. From inside he called who is it? She answered me, BeckyLyn. He said-or must've said-come in. What happened next? Nearly everyone in southwest Utah can tell you. She nailed an ace shot and blew his heart clean from his chest. The paper says he was in his computer chair, and from the way the blood splattered the drywall they're pretty sure the blast spun him three times around. At the time of his death my dad was online playing Texas hol