Book Report: The 19th Wife

I love the listmania feature at Amazon.com.  It allows you to make lists of your favorite things.  I keep track of the books I have read and books I may want to read in the future.  While browsing books all sorts of listmania lists are displayed along the sides of the pages.  These lists are great places to find new and interesting books.  It was on one of these lists thatI first noticed The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff.  I added it to my Books I Want to Read (list 7 ).  Who knew if I’d ever actually get to it, I have so many books waiting to be read!  Lo and behold, a few short weeks later I was studying the shelves at my favorite used book store (where hardcovers are $1 and softcovers are $.50- can you say book lover heaven?) and there it was in all it’s hardcover glory- The 19th wife!  Was it even a possibility thatI left it on the shelf?  NO WAY!  Instead of adding it to my pile of books awaiting their turn I read it immediately.

The 19th Wife has two story lines, one is current and follows a twenty year old man who was kicked out of a polygamous sect when he was fourteen.  He returns home after discoverireng his mother has been arrested for the murder of his father.  His mother was his father’s 19th wife.  The second story line revolves around real life person Ann Eliza Young, the 19th wife of Brigham Young, one of the early leaders of the Mormon church.  Ann Eliza did write a biography, a scathing expose of the bebinnings of polygamythat was called Wife No. 19.   Ebershoff’s novel is a fictionalization of Ann Eliza’s book.  It has book chapters, interviews, wikipedia entries, rejection letters from the Mormon temple archives, letters from Ann Eliza’s son and excerpts from newpaper articles.  It is fictional but relies heavily on real life sources and appears to be well researched.  I have to confess I was fascinated by these stories.  Two thirds of the novel is dedicated to the historical aspect and one third to the current day story.  If I have a complaint it is that I wanted the stories to be fifty-fifty, an even split of pages alloted.   The historical started to become tedious and the modern day story needed more!  Overall a very satisfying and informative read.  Grade:  B.

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