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The 19th Wife: A Novel [Kindle Edition]

David Ebershoff
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (463 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: #24,408 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
253 of 262 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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212 of 231 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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44 of 45 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 Didn't think I would like this at first but it got to the point ...
Didn't think I would like this at first but it got to the point where I couldn't put it down. Quite a few characters to keep straight at the beginning (probably because there are... Read more
Published 2 days ago by Melinda Dorl
4.0 out of 5 stars A compelling who-done-it and a fascinating history of Mormonism, from...
This was a fascinating book. I learned a great deal about the history of the Mormon religion. The modern day who-done-it portiion was also riveting. Read more
Published 2 days ago by Wix Simon
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
I like my purchase, great condition.
Published 3 days ago by Madeline
4.0 out of 5 stars Hmmm...interesting book!!!
Loved the book! A bit confusing sometimes....as I wasn't sure if I was reading fiction or non-fiction!! Sure opened my eyes to a lot of things!
Published 9 days ago by Lori Fish
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Incredibly creative and a great, fun, educational read!
Published 11 days ago by Justine Jimenez-Dehn
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
A tiresome account of plural marriages that could have been told in half the space and been interesting.
Published 11 days ago by dina
5.0 out of 5 stars Superbly Written!
I found this book very interesting. It was also written very well. We have a vacation home in Utah and I found the Mormon history very interesting and the modern murder mystery... Read more
Published 12 days ago by Dianne
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book that juxtaposes 2 time periods and 2 interesting ...
Good book that juxtaposes 2 time periods and 2 interesting cases. I learned a lot about the Mormons and the idea of celestial marriage but had no idea of the corruption within the... Read more
Published 12 days ago by Tobie Hollenbeck
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent over view of polygamy as it is currently practiced.
This is a great mystery. I read Young's book first so I can say with assurance that the segments purporting to be from Young's book are fiction, but, that hardly matters because... Read more
Published 19 days ago by Celeste Stewart
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth reading to understand the impact on children
A solid book on polygamy and its effects on women and children written from two timelines in 1850 during the beginning and in 2014. Read more
Published 21 days ago by Yellow Pillow
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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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