The 19th Wife (Hardcover)
Fall '09/Winter '10 Reading Group List
“A fascinating tale of polygamy and its effect on those who practice it. This novel really tells two tales -- that of Jordan Scott -- a young man who was thrown out of his fundamentalist sect and who is now trying to clear his mother of murder -- and that of Ann Eliza Young, the wife of Brigham Young, who went on to denounce polygamy. This is an amazingly researched, well-written novel!”
— Mary Cowen, Anderson's Bookshop, Naperville, IL
August 2008 Indie Next List
“The 19th Wife brilliantly combines two stories: one, historical fiction about Ann Eliza Young, who defies her church and husband, Brigham Young, the other a modern-day murder mystery set in Utah. Ebershoff adroitly gives the reader an understanding of a world of faith and love most of us can not comprehend, and he writes stunningly, with great depth and feeling for his characters.”
— Jane Dawson, Porter Square Books, Cambridge, MA
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.
“This exquisite tour de force explores the dark roots of polygamy and its modern-day fruit in a renegade cult...Ebershoff (The Danish Girl) brilliantly blends a haunting fictional narrative by Ann Eliza Young, the real-life 19th “rebel” wife of Mormon leader Brigham Young, with the equally compelling contemporary narrative of fictional Jordan Scott, a 20-year-old gay man…With the topic of plural marriage and its shattering impact on women and powerless children in today's headlines, this novel is essential reading for anyone seeking understanding of the subject.”
–Publishers Weekly, Starred and “Pick of the Week”