Sunday, June 06, 2010

The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff

This is a historical novel about Ann Eliza Young, one of many wives of Brigham Young, leader of the Mormon Church.  It tells her life story, beginning with her parents and their plural marriage.  In 1875, several years after Ann Eliza is more or less trapped into marrying Brigham Young, she loses her faith, sues for divorce, and goes on a lecture circuit, trying to put an end to polygamy.   She was mostly successful in her quest; the Mormon Church officially ended the practice of polygamy in 1890.  However, a group of fundamentalists broke away from the Church (calling themselves the First and True Latter-day Saints) and continue to practice polygamy to this day.

This is also a modern day murder mystery; Jordan Scott, a young man who was thrown out of the Firsts as an adolescent, returns to find out who killed his father.  His mother (19th wife of his father) has been arrested for the murder.

The book is written primarily in first person, but the "first person" changes throughout.  There are chapters of the book written by Ann Eliza, letters and papers from various characters, and the current day narrative by Jordan.  It is an effective way of telling the story, and I found it to be well written and enjoyable.  This was my 10th book for the New Author Challenge 2010.  I rate this book 4 out of 5.


Kathy A. Johnson said...

Sounds like an ineresting book, Cheryl. I like trying new authors. You never know when you'll stumble on a gem.

Janette and Nick said...

I read this book a couple of years ago and, apart from a few flat spots, I loved it. I felt it was written very intimately and you could really engage with the narator.