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The 19th Wife: A Novel Paperback – June 2, 2009
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A mystery and history combined into one book. I didn't know much about Joseph Smith, Brigham Young and plural marriage. I do now!
Very good book.
really enjoyed the novel within the novel approach. Very easy, informational read. Makes me want to read other books by the same author.Published 14 days ago by Betty Frank
This book was overwritten, overwritten, overwritten. Fascinating at first. Interesting insight into the Mormon cult. It could have used significant editing. Read morePublished 15 days ago by Amazon Customer
Great Novel with an honest Insite into the world of Poligimy & a view of the beginning of the Mormon Organization.Published 16 days ago by K
Got this book because it was a book club read but had to MAKE myself keep going to see if there was EVER going to be some purpose to this book. Read morePublished 29 days ago by Mary Watkins
My books got here fast. This book is so great that I'm half way through the book.Published 1 month ago by lisa jirak
As others have said, the switching of viewpoints was confusing and distracting. There was too much of a difference in time between the modern day story and the Ann Eliza story. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Traceybookstar
What an eye opening book taking you inside the Mormon religion. I found it fascinating and once started couldn't put it down.Published 3 months ago by Erin