The 19th Wife - A Review

 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.

I literally just finished reading this book and my exact words were "Ugh- Finally finished!"

This book was not bad, but it is not going on my list of favorites by any means. The two words I would use to describe this book are tedious and fascinating. The author has weaved together a past and present story. He uses the present story to get you sucked in, and then beats you over the head with historical fiction. In the present day story there is Jordan (its guy - took me 30 pages to realize it - but its a guy) and his mother, a 19th wife, is accused of murdering her husband. Interesting right? Well then you get the story of Ann Eliza Young, the infamous 19th wife of Brigham Young a founder of the Morman religion. She came out and publicly denounced polygamy and was instrumental in it being banned. However, in the modern story there is just Jordan. In the historical story you get Ann Eliza's point of view, her mother's, her father's, her brothers'. her son's and Brigham's, along with some letters and newspaper articles for good measure. I really wanted to know what happened to Jordan and his mom as he tried to find enough evidence to prove she was innocent as she claimed to be and I did not get enough of this story and was a little unfulfilled by it's ending, although surprised. Ann Eliza's story was fascinating because it showed a wife's perspective of plural marriage and she was incredibly brave for publicly denouncing it and escaping, but after awhile I felt like it was historical overkill. I all but skipped over Brigham's chapter and her son's letters. I also felt like the book was flawed (but probably by design) because it was unpredictable when it would flip-flop between past and present. I would just really be getting into the present story and then Poof! It's 1878 again. I think if someone was really a fan of historical fiction that they would love this book. It just was not my cup of tea, but I liked it enough to finish it.... which is partially due to my hard-headed nature. :) I also wasn't crazy about the unnecessary use of the F-bomb. It was just strange, going from late 1800's English to modern day slang and cursing. 
Overall rating : 2.5/5 - take it or leave it. For the historical fiction fan it would be a slam dunk.


Brittney said...

Just wondering if you watched "Sister Wives"? I was kind of addicted!

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