December 28, 2011
The 19th Wife
The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff
2008 Random House Audio
Readers: Arthur Morey, Daniel Passer, Kimberly Farr and Rebecca Lowman
Finished on 11/29/11
Rating: 4/5 (Very Good)
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 is one of those occasions in which I went into the reading of a book completely cold. I had no idea what the story was about; never even read the back cover. I had it on my shelf (I’m not even sure where or when I got it), but came upon the audio version (online) through my local library. I decided to give it a try and was spellbound; all four readers were superb and the story was captivating. Initially, I preferred the present-day narrative over that of Ann Eliza’s story, but as the novel progressed, I found myself looking forward to the shift back to her tale.
Now that I’ve enjoyed the audio version of the book, I’m looking forward to reading my printed copy sometime in the future. I learned a great deal about the Mormon Church and its history, but would like a chance to go back and read it, concentrating more on the historical details and less on the fictitious character, Jordan Scott, and the mystery of his father’s murder.
I’m also looking forward to reading the author’s earlier novel, Pasadena, which I’ve owned for close to a decade!
Go here to listen to David Ebershoff describe The 19th Wife.
Click here to visit the author’s website.
Final thoughts: A thought-provoking story that would make for a great book club selection.
Books to add to my TBR list:
Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer
The Mormon War: Zion and the Missouri Extermination Order of 1838 by Brandon G. Kinney