The 19th Wife

David Ebershoff is the author of three novels and his fiction has won a number of awards. His books have been translated into fifteen languages to critical acclaim. Ebershoff has taught creative writing at New York University and Princeton and currently teaches in the graduate writing program at Columbia University.

I was excited to read ‘The 19th Wife’ after hearing how well researched and written this novel was. I learned so much and didn’t want to put this book down. Although Eberhoff is quick to explain that this is a work of fiction, you will enjoy the biographical nature of his writing, it is filled with facts and articles.

The story starts with a murder and quickly dives into the history of the Mormon faith and polygamy. While reading this book you will be amazed to learn about the culture and expectations within a household and the hierarchy of the wife’s and children. Part of the story is told from the view of a teenage boy who was kicked out for holding hands with his sister, he returns to help investigate the murder of his father after learning his mother is accused of killing him.

I encourage you to read the author’s Q&A for more details.
Type: Historical fiction, 514 pages, hardcover
Reader's guide: Yes

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.

Ambitious. . . impressive. . 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." – The New Yorker

"Wonderfully lyrical. . . . it does that thing all good novels do: It entertains us." – Los Angeles Times