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The 19th Wife: A Novel [Kindle Edition]

David Ebershoff
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (402 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.00
Kindle Price: $9.99
You Save: $5.01 (33%)
Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

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.


From the Hardcover edition.


Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. This sweeping epic is a compelling and original work set in 1875, when one woman attempts to rid America of polygamy. Ebershoff intertwines his tale with that of a 20th-century murder mystery in Utah, allowing the two stories to twist and turn into a marvelous literary experience. With such a sprawling tale to relate, a few narrators (Kimberly Farr, Rebecca Lowman, Arthur Morey and Daniel Passer) divide up the roles and deliver a solid, professional reading, true to Ebershoffs prose. A Random House hardcover (Reviews, June 23). (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From The New Yorker

This ambitious third novel tells two parallel stories of polygamy. The first recounts Brigham Young's expulsion of one of his wives, Ann Eliza, from the Mormon Church; the second is a modern-day murder mystery set in a polygamous compound in Utah. Unfolding through an impressive variety of narrative forms—Wikipedia entries, academic research papers, newspaper opinion pieces—the stories include fascinating historical details. We are told, for instance, of Brigham Young's ban on dramas that romanticized monogamous love at his community theatre; as one of Young's followers says, "I ain't sitting through no play where a man makes such a cussed fuss over one woman." Ebershoff demonstrates abundant virtuosity, as he convincingly inhabits the voices of both a nineteenth-century Mormon wife and a contemporary gay youth excommunicated from the church, while also managing to say something about the mysterious power of faith.
Copyright ©2008 Click here to subscribe to The New Yorker

Product Details

  • File Size: 1786 KB
  • Print Length: 530 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0812980719
  • Publisher: Random House; 1st edition (August 5, 2008)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B001CXXAME
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #94,464 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
245 of 253 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ripped from the headlines? August 8, 2008
Format:Hardcover
When I heard what this novel was about, I immediately wanted to read it. The reason is that I've been so intrigued by news accounts of groups like the polygamous fundamentalists featured in this novel. For me, it was like a window into another world.

The story opens with 20-year-old Jordan Scott reading the news online. He sees a photo of a woman being placed into a police car and suddenly realizes that it's his mother! He hasn't seen her since she and his father left him by the side of the highway with $17 dollars in his pocket at the age of 14. You see, Jordan was raised in Utah in a polygamous Mormon sect--an extremist offshoot of the contemporary Mormon Church. Jordan's mom was #19 of his dad's 25 or so wives, and Jordan was raised with about 100 siblings. It's a very different upbringing. Sadly, at the age of 14, Jordan was excommunicated for a non-existent offence, and cast out from his home, family, and the life he'd known. But he's a survivor, and he's made a life for himself in LA.

Seeing that his mother has been arrested for the murder of his father, Jordan realizes that he must return home and face his past. He goes to visit his mother in jail, and she tells him, "I didn't do it!" and begs for his help. With all the conflicted feelings you would imagine, Jordan begins his own investigation into the murder case, and for the first time in years has contact with his former life. Despite the pain this sometimes brings him, he makes friends along the way, and they're a fascinating and diverse group of allies.

This contemporary murder mystery would be more than enough story for your average novel, but in this case, it's only half of it. For the chapters about Jordan and the murder mystery alternate with another story.
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210 of 228 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
I really enjoyed reading The 19th Wife. In fact, it was one of the best books I've read this year. The author, David Ebershoff, skillfully weaves a tale back and forth between the roots of nineteenth century polygamy and a modern day polygamist murder mystery.

Much of the book focuses on the nineteenth century beginnings of polygamy and the Mormon faith, and at first I was put off by this, being more interested in today's headlines than historical fiction, but as I moved through the book I found myself more and more captivated by the very compelling story of Ann Eliza Young, Brigham Young's nineteenth (disputed) wife.

This book is woven with so much historical fact that it becomes hard to separate fact from fiction, but I do believe the author tried to accurately portray the events as much as possible.

Just a few of the highlights and themes in this book include a couple of "lost boys" who were kicked out of their community for small indiscretions, left abandoned on the streets at a young age. Their stories are wrought with pain but end nicely. There are also a few instances of modern day escapes from the polygamist community; some forced and coerced marriages; and a consistent theme of hurt feelings as the husbands take on additional wives. This book covers these stories and so many more it would be difficult to touch on all of them in a short review.

I have never read a nearly 600 page book in just four days, but that is just what I did with this book. I felt a very emotional connection to this book and it's characters and I hope to read more from this author.
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41 of 42 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another winner from Ebershoff August 20, 2008
Format:Hardcover
Last April, 533 women and children were removed from the Yearn for Zion Ranch of the Fundamentalist Church of Latter-Day Saints in west Texas. Author David Ebershoff must have found this an eerie coincidence with his polygamy rich novel "The 19th Wife" being prepped by Random House for an August release.

Ebershoff, author of "The Danish Girl," has composed an often brilliant novel consisting of two stories: the epic saga of Ann Eliza Young, the 19th wife of Brigham Young, who almost single handedly brought about the end of polygamy in America; and a story of a modern day plural wife accused of murder, and her excommunicated gay son determined to prove her innocence.

The story of Ann Eliza is a slice of nearly forgotten American history, thoroughly researched and detailed. "The 19th Wife" illustrates the evils of religious tyranny and how "celestial marriage" was a blasphemous rationalization of adultery. Great pains have been taken to depict the rise and fal of polygamy withing the Mormon church; from portraits of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, to testimonials from a wide assortment of Ann Eliza's friends, family and detractors. These characters are indelibly drawn and leap from the page into our memory. Scenes of the great western expansion and the trek of European immigrants to Utah remain vivid long after reading them.

I'll not provide a summary of the second story other than to say it too deals with the ill effects of polygamy, is set in a community not unlike Year for Zion Ranch, and features a truly memorable gay hero in Jordan Scott.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent read!
I loved the way the lives of the two women paralelled each other. Well written and so interesting. I would recommend this book!
Published 13 hours ago by Joy Allen
5.0 out of 5 stars Read this book!
Every woman in America should read this book. The mix of historical fiction and modern day polygamist murder mystery is a combination that gets you hooked so you can't put it down! Read more
Published 4 days ago by MP
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun but a bit confusing
This book is very interested, I enjoyed it very much. There is only one thing, I wish I had stated it from the end. Read more
Published 7 days ago by Gloria
4.0 out of 5 stars Past meets the present
I enjoyed the relationship that was established between the lives of Brigham Young's "19th" wife and present day multiple wives of the "Firsts" in Utah/Arizona. Read more
Published 11 days ago by Louise Neal
4.0 out of 5 stars Loved this book!
I had a hard time putting this book down. Within the volume are two stories of polygamous families of past and present. Read more
Published 12 days ago by F. Barnese
5.0 out of 5 stars Admixture of faith and travesty
This book is a well informed mixture of research and historical fiction. Set in a fascinating era in the LDS church, it highlights the travails of all parties involved in polygamy... Read more
Published 14 days ago by Judith Ann
4.0 out of 5 stars Makes you think
Gives you an insight, albeit biased, into one women's crusade to abolish polygamy in the Mormon Church's dogma. Not a very flattering view of Brigham Young. Made very good reading
Published 15 days ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Read
Well written.hard to put down novel. Loved the interplay of the two stories.
Great book club selection and I look forward to the discussion.
Published 17 days ago by Karen K Zook
4.0 out of 5 stars good book.
Was a bit lost at the beginning, but loved how the author took two different time periods and wove the stories together.
Published 18 days ago by Sandy Dekker
1.0 out of 5 stars The 19th Wife: A Novel
Totally over rated. Very boring read. Had to skim though much of it. Will not be ready any more books by this author.
Published 23 days ago by Me
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More About the Author

David Ebershoff is the author of four books of fiction, including The Danish Girl, The Rose City, and Pasadena. His most recent novel is the international bestseller, The 19th Wife, which was also made into a television movie. His writing has won a number of awards, including the Rosenthal Foundation Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the Lambda Literary Award. His books have been translated into eighteen languages to critical acclaim. Ebershoff teaches in the graduate writing program at Columbia University. For many years he has worked as an editor-at-large at Random House, where he has edited many writers including Norman Mailer, David Mitchell, Gary Shteyngart, Teju Cole, Adam Johnson, Billy Collins, Diane Keaton, Jane Jacobs, Shirin Ebadi, and the posthumous works of Truman Capote and WG Sebald. Originally from Pasadena, California, he now lives in New York City.

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