The 19th Wife - A Book Review | Kylie Purtell - Capturing Life

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

The 19th Wife - A Book Review

The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff, Published by Black Swan, ISBN: 9780552774987, Paperback

This was a really interesting book. I've been a little immersed in the whole 'plural wife' world for the last few months, watching Big Love, and I also read a book by Caroline Jessop called Escape back in March, about her escape from the Fundamentalist Church of Latter-Day Saints. It's also a fascinating read. You can find my review of Escape here.

Anyway, onto The 19th Wife. What B.o.B says
For the first time in six years, Jordan returns from California to Utah, to visit his mother - in jail. As a young boy he was expelled from his family's secretive polygamous Mormon sect. Now his father has been found shot dead in front of his computer, and one of his many wives - Jordan's mother - is accused of the crime...Over a century earlier, Ann Eliza Young, nineteenth wife of Brigham Young, second Prophet of the Mormon Church, tells the sensational story of how she battled for her freedom from her powerful husband, to lead a crusade to end polygamy in the United States. Bold, shocking and gripping, The 19th Wife expertly weaves together these two narratives in an entertaining epic of love, family, murder and faith.

I loved the historical sections of this book the most. The modern-day story was interesting in it's own right, and Jordan is a very complex character, with his background and all, but the modern-day story is almost really a back-drop for the story of the real 19th Wife, Ann Eliza Young.

I haven't done a lot of research into the accuracies of the story, but I know the main parts are correct. One of the things I liked about this book, even though I enjoyed the historical story more than the modern-day one, was the way the author was careful not to get too bogged down in one story or the other, there was a perfect mix of old and new and each section left off with just enough to keep you reading until you picked up that story again. 

If you like books that aren't exactly all sparkles and light but feature complex relationships and themes, or you're looking for a book that requires more of an investment in time and brain-power then you should give this a go. Even if you don't have a lot of time for a book, because of the way it's split up into sections you could almost read the two different story-lines as two book in themselves.

Thumbs-Up.

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