The 19th Wife

(image courtesy

I had a hard time putting this book down.  The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff webs together two timelines and two stories both centered around the polygamist lifestyle of early and present day Mormons.  Both a lesson in history, as well as a love story (and one that depicts many different kinds of love), this book is incredibly intriguing in its styling.

Based off the historical divorce trial and anti-polygamist campaigning of Ann Eliza Young against Prophet Brigham Young, Ebershoff spins the tale of the cryptic life that can be plural marriage.  He also tells the story of a present day murder mystery where “lost boy” Jordan Scott must figure out who killed his father before his mother, another 19th wife, takes the fall.

See!  Intriguing?!

Check out the book trailer with the author!

David Ebershoff (image courtesy

I’ve never read a book so rich in style.  The author, David Ebershoff, is a history buff, and this book began while researching the early 1800’s.  The story of Ann Eliza Young is a gripping one for any author.  She may have been Brigham’s 19th wife in duties, but evidence suggests he had as many as 27 or 50+ wives!  She was not the first to have left him, however, she was the first to write a tell all book about the degradations of plural marriage and the polygamist lifestyle.  In her day, she was a social celebrity.

But Ebershoff’s research didn’t stop there, he wanted to make the story relevant to today.  He spent time in Hildale, Colorado City, Utah, a present day polygamist compound.  Literally being driven out of town by the Mormon police, his research was slow going.  Still, he interviewed as many former and current plural wives, lost boys, excommunicated men, and children as he could to grasp what life was like and is like today.

When I talk about his stylings, he also wrote sections of his book to include historical research fictionally presented by a graduate student doing research.  In those segments the readers receive a historical account as well as some subjective interpretation to the information.

I thoroughly enjoyed The 19th Wife as it was unlike any book I’d ever read before, both in style and subject matter.  Ebershoff’s author site is a great resource into more of the book research he did and the story of Ann Eliza Young.

What about you, reader?  Have you read The 19th Wife?  Had you known of Ann  Eliza Young already?

7 responses

  1. 19 wives, huh? A dozen of them could “have a headache” on any given night and a fella would still end up getting lucky many times over. Not a bad lifestyle if you can swing it!

    1. I’m just shaking my head at you, Mr. Petruska.

  2. i have had this on my bookshelf for about a year now and have been meaning to read it. You’re encouraged me to move it further up the list.

    1. Definitely put it in that To Be Read pile!!! I really like the unique writing style and learned a lot of history about the Mormon church and the political battles they faced then and now. Very interesting!

  3. Interesting! My current YA novel involves a smidgeon of polygamy, but I can’t personally imagine why any wife would want that. It is an intriguing history, however.

    1. Hmm, you’ll have to tell me more about your project this weekend! See you then Roomie!

      1. Absolutely! We can trade ideas. I won’t think you’re weird at all for having imaginary friends you call characters. 😉

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