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Review: The 19th Wife

October 23, 2008

The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff is actually two stories in one.  It begins with the story of Ann Eliza Young, the 19th wife of the Brigham Young, Prophet of the Latter Day Saints.  As a member of the Church of Latter Day Saints during the 1800’s, she found herself in a polygamous marriage.  She was never happy in the marriage, but tolerated it until Brigham refused to financially support her.  Forced to take in Gentile boarders, she saw what life was like on “the outside.”  She divorced Brigham and went on a speaking tour denouncing the Latter Day Saints and the practice of plural marriage.  This part of the book is so well written, I had to keep reminding myself that, while based on fact, it is a work of fiction.

The second story in The 19th Wife is the story of a present day 19th wife, who is a member of the “Firsts,” who are loosely based on The Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints, or FLDS, that was so prominent in the news this summer.  BeckyLyn finds herself in jail, accused of murdering her husband.  Her son Jordan, who has been excommunicated from the church, reads about it in the newspaper and visits her in jail.  Convinced of her innocence, he searches for the truth.

This book grabbed me from the first page. David Ebershoff does a fantastic job of switching between the two stories.   He includes an author’s note at the back of the book detailing his research and telling of his inspiration in writing it.  I thought The 19th Wife was a fantastic read – it is a wonderful blend of historical fiction and mystery.

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23 Comments leave one →
  1. October 23, 2008 8:19 am

    I have had this in my TBR pile for months. It’s clear that I need to read it soon! It sounds wonderful! Why are there so many good books out there and so little time?

  2. October 23, 2008 9:14 am

    Another blog I read just reviewed this book and it sounds really good! Now that I’ve seen it twice it must be.

  3. October 23, 2008 9:38 am

    Great review. This one is on my TBR shelf and my Fall Reading Challenge – I’ll have to pick it up soon!

  4. October 23, 2008 9:58 am

    I wasn’t that interested in this book but your review definitely sparks my interest!!! I’ll have to add it to my wishlist now! Great review!

  5. October 23, 2008 10:40 am

    I am hosting this book on a blog tour next month, so I’ll be starting it soon. From your review it sounds like I will really enjoy it!

  6. October 23, 2008 10:57 am

    great review. I’m just learning about the fact that this book has two stories in it…here I thought it only had one! Boy I’m dumb sometimes.

  7. October 23, 2008 11:01 am

    Polygamy fascinates me. I’m surprised there haven’t been more books about it.

  8. October 23, 2008 11:49 am

    I just read this book too!!! I have to wait to review it since I read it for part of the TLC blog tours….but i did enjoy it. (didn’t it seem a tad long though??)

    It was an interesting combo, the two stories…very good writing too.

    Great review!

  9. October 23, 2008 3:02 pm

    I am so excited to be reading it soon! Great review, Kathy!

  10. October 23, 2008 6:36 pm

    Good review. I’ve wanted to read this one.

  11. October 23, 2008 7:10 pm

    This really sounds intriguing. I’m heading over to bookmooch to put it on my wishlist!

  12. October 23, 2008 7:44 pm

    Great review Kathy. I am waiting for this book to come in the mail. I am hoping tomorrow cause I ordered it with other books from Chapters.

  13. October 23, 2008 7:44 pm

    I just bought the book… it arrived yesterday. I can’t wait to read it.

  14. October 23, 2008 9:19 pm

    I got this as an ER book from LibraryThing back in May (review here). I really enjoyed it, too, and thought it seemed a lot shorter than 600 pages.

  15. October 24, 2008 9:51 am

    Great review! I’ll be starting this book in the next day or so once I finish “Life After Genius.” I can’t wait to read it, and I’ll be reviewing it on Nov. 12 for TLC Book Tours.

    It is important to remember the book is fiction, but I love it when these types of books are so good it’s easy to forget that!

  16. October 24, 2008 10:21 am

    Great review Kathy, as always I admire your ability to summarize a book so completely yet succinctly.

    I didn’t realized the term ‘gentiles’ was used by this church.

  17. October 24, 2008 4:26 pm

    Great review. We had an ARC floating around for a while (my husband won it from LibraryThing’s ER program) but no one’s gotten around to it yet. But I think maybe we will soon! 🙂

  18. October 24, 2008 5:21 pm

    Oh I love when a book grabs me at the very beginning. Great review!

  19. October 24, 2008 8:54 pm

    Seems like everybody is reading this book!

  20. October 25, 2008 10:47 am

    Thanks for the review. Sounds like a book I should pick up.

  21. October 26, 2008 8:10 pm

    I just loved this book – it really surprised me just how great it was! I learned a lot and really enjoyed both stories as they pulled me through the book. 🙂

    I’ve added a link to your review on mine – hope that is ok!!

    🙂 Wendi

  22. October 27, 2008 3:35 pm

    Wow, Kathy, great review! You summed it up quite nicely! It was a long book but didn’t feel that long. I really liked the book too and just wrote my review a couple days ago, but have to wait to post it until 10/30 for the blog tour.

  23. October 27, 2008 8:10 pm

    Great review! I won a copy of this, but haven’t gotten to it yet. I’m looking forward to it.

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