Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The 19th Wife (novel)

The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff

This is my book club's current reading selection, which is good since I've had it on my to-read list for a while. It's the fictional account of the life of Ann Eliza Young, apparently notoriously known as "The 19th Wife" of Brigham Young, one of the founders of the Mormon church. Her narrative is intertwined with the narrative of a modern-day murder mystery that takes place within an extremist fundamentalist LDS sect where polygamy still rules. Although Ann Eliza's account is fictional, the author based it on a lot of research, as well as Ann Eliza's actual memoirs that were published in the late nineteenth century. I'll spare my opinion of the religious aspects of the story, which are apparently based on fact, except to say "Wow. People really believe this crap?"

It's a very creatively written book, in which the author utilizes fictional diary entries, fictional newspaper clippings, and even a fictional Wikipedia entry. the story is told chronologically but from several people's perspectives, and illustrates very well how there is no one truth to any story; everyone has their own truth.

It's a good book, although it dragged a little at times and I felt it could have been about 100 pages shorter and still told the same story.

I borrowed this so can't pass it along, but I do recommend it.


  1. I've been toying around with reading this book for awhile but wasn't sure if I'd like it. So after your review I finally decided to start it and have to say I'm really enjoying it so far. Thanks for the recommendation.

  2. Stephanie, I know you read a lot, and I was wondering if you'd like to be a contributor here so you can post your own book reviews. If you're interested (and I hope you get this comment!), send me an email (there is a link to my email in the sidebar of Finnian's Journey) with your email address.