Friday, September 24, 2010

Book Review: The 19th Wife

My book club's selection for September was David Ebershoff's The 19th Wife. Ebershoff wrote a book about polygamy that is made up of two parallel stories. One is set in present day Utah, the story of Jordan Scott's search to clear his mother's name. His mother you see, is being accused of killing her husband, she is his 19th wife. Jordan grew up as a "First"-with a polygamous father, and was thrown out of the church at 15 because he was holding hands with his stepsister. He is reading the news online one day about 6 years later when he comes across his mother's name and decides to investigate. The other story is of Ann Eliza Young, a young woman in the late 18oos who married, and later divorced the infamous Brigham Young. Through a series of "documents" and a research paper, we learn of Ann Eliza's experience growing up with and becoming involved in polygamous marriage, as well as her campaign to bring an end to it. The documents used in the book are fictional, however they are inspired by real documents.

I enjoyed this book-I though it was well written, and sensitive where it needed to be, and fast-paced and shocking at the right times. I was interested in both stories, but definitely felt more involved and curious about the present day story. I actually think I would have preferred reading each story separately rather than having them all jumbled together.

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