The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff (A Bookies Review)
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 her family’s polygamous history is revealed, including how both she and her mother became plural wives. Yet 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, family, and faith.
I thought I knew what Polygamy was. I knew there were those who believe in plural wives. I haven’t watched it, but know there is a tv series right now called Sister Wives, about a man and his four wives.
Really I had no idea.
There’s something I really love about Historical Fiction. I love the facts I find within the pages. The 19th Wife is a fictional story, however woven through the chapters is a true story, the story of Ann Eliza Young the all too real woman who was married to Brigham Young and made the bold move to separate herself from what everyone in her circle believed. From the very first pages I was hooked into something new, and different, and felt like I had walked into a world I knew little of.
A large part of this book is told through Jordan’s perspective. Jordan is one of the “lost boys.” As you come to find out, the lost boys are what is referred to when a boy in his early teens usually is excommunicated from the home and dumped out into the world to fend for themselves.
The crude explanation is, this leaves more women to go around. With the births being almost equally divided into boys and girls, and men are expected to have at least three wives… the numbers just do not add up.
Although Jordan’s life has not been easy (there are some horrifying early years stories of what he did to survive), he is now at peace with where he is at in life and who he has become. Or… so he thinks.
When Jordan’s mother is jailed and possibly going to be executed for a crime he does not believe she committed, Jordan sets his own judgements aside, and walks back into the life he never thought he would return to, to try to figure out what really happened.
The result is a twisting, informative, and all so close walk into the lives of those surrounded by what they believe to be God’s truth. I personally, found it fascinating, like walking on the edge of something dangerous that I did not understand, but knowing I was safe as all was locked in the pages of the book.
I personally think this makes for an incredible discussion for a book group. There are discussion group questions in the back of the book and out group made it through about 4 of them. Our conversation flowed without the guidance of questions, facts and fiction mixed in our voices, from those who were appalled and did not enjoy the book (very few), to those of us who found it interesting and fascinating (the majority).
Honestly, as we reviewed it, I felt this is what a book discussion is meant to be… we were bursting to discuss this book.
As for the food:
I missed some of the food pics. There was also a delicious looking fruit salad.
In the end, out of the eighteen women who sat down and reviewed this book, the average rating (scale of 1-5), the book rated a strong 4. We felt it was very discussion worthy, informative and really… I could go on and on with this review … but yeah…. it has to end sometime.
I think people who enjoy historical fiction will enjoy this book.
Looking for some other thoughts on it? here are some awesome book bloggers and their thoughts on The 19th Wife: