The 19th Wife- David Ebershoff

Synopsis (from Amazon)

Jordan returns from California to Utah to visit his mother in jail. As a teenager he was expelled from his family and religious community, a secretive Mormon offshoot 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, the nineteenth wife of Brigham Young, Prophet and Leader of the Mormon Church, tells the sensational story of how her own parents were drawn into plural marriage, and how she herself battled for her freedom and escaped 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: a pageturning literary mystery and an enthralling epic of love and faith.


Well first of this book wasn’t what I really expected from the blurb, although I knew it would have some ‘historical’ content I expected it to be outweighed by the modern story, which was really the bit that I was most interested in (although I enjoy historical fiction if this had been suggested as such I probably wouldn’t have been interested in it). However the historical side of the story outweighed the modern day story- in a way I felt like half of it was added just to bulk out the story. I can’t say I was particully rivetted by either side of the story. The story of the modern day 19th Wife had promise but wasn’t really explored very well. The background of The 19th Wife herself could have been explored more to give insight into the actions- and in itself could have made a decent story. As for the ‘historicall’ story, I found the period of the story about the founding of the Mormon church to be quite interesting because I know next to nothing about the Latter Day Saints but in other parts I found the story really dragged, and from about halfway through I felt like Ebershoff was pushing his own agenda into the book. The story of Ann Eliza Young was fairly interesting but I don’t think it was very well told, and I would rather read her own autobiography (Wife No. 19) ┬áthan what Ebershoff claimed was an edited version.

I can’t say I wish I hadn’t wasted the time it took me to read The 19th Wife, because I did find some bits interesting, however I do feel I could have found the interesting bits in a quicker way or through a better written source.



Filed under Contempory, Fiction review, Historical

6 responses to “The 19th Wife- David Ebershoff

  1. Wow, thanks, I almost read this!!!


  2. lucybirdbooks

    lol glad to be of help!


  3. Pingback: Bouncy Bouncy! « Lucybird's Book Blog

  4. Yikes–I just borrowed this from a book club friend because I loved Ebershoff’s The Danish Girl so much. Since she doesn’t want it back, it might sit on Mt. TBR for a long while.


  5. I have to agree with you – this book didn’t work for me either. It felt like two very different books just cut and pasted together. I prefered the modern story too, but neither was very special.


  6. Yep, I agree with you. I read it with my book club, and while they seemed to like it more than me, nobody really loved it.


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