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The 19th Wife
The 19th Wife
Author: David Ebershoff
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 power...  more »
ISBN-13: 9780812974157
ISBN-10: 0812974158
Publication Date: 6/16/2009
Pages: 528
Rating:
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.
 300

3.6 stars, based on 300 ratings
Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks
Book Type: Paperback
Other Versions: Hardcover, Audio CD
Reviews: Member | Amazon | Write a Review

Top Member Book Reviews

reviewed The 19th Wife on + 605 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 13
I found this to be a real eye-opener! Coming from a Mormon background (I grew up in Utah), this book was very relevant for me. I thought Ebershoff did a great job in telling this story that includes the roots of polygamy in the Mormon Church along with a modern day murder mystery in a polygamist cult and how the two stories connect with each other. I tend to agree that the story would have perhaps been better if only the story of Ann Eliza Young was told, but I did get engrossed in the modern-day story as well. Reading the story of the Mormon beginnings and Brigham Young was definitely not the same stories I was taught in Mormon Sunday school. Especially the baser aspects of why Brigham and Joseph Smith entered into polygamous relationships and some of the other historical aspects such as the "hand-cart tragedy." This is a work of fiction and it is hard to separate the fact from the fiction, however, I think the author tried to accurately portray the events as much as possible.

The story within the modern-day cult reminded me a lot of the HBO series "Big Love." I would recommend this series highly. This book also piqued my interest in reading more about Ann Eliza Young -- I would like to read her book "Wife No. 19" at some point. I didn't realize she had such an impact on the Mormon Church's renouncement of polygamy. Overall a high recommendation for this book.
reviewed The 19th Wife on + 9 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 10
I'm one of the rare people that didn't enjoy this book at all. I didn't even bother finishing it, placing it back on PBS almost a week after receiving it. I felt Ebershoff was a gruff author, writing at a 6th grade level and in a very choppy manner. While there was definitely a story to be told here, it merited refined words written in more eloquent ways. Neiter refinement nor eloquence can be found in this book. Save yourself the time and look for a better book to read.
reviewed The 19th Wife on + 158 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 7
Ebershoff manages to straddle multiple stories, centuries and leading characters without leaving the reader behind. All voices feel authentic and it is easy to let go and be carried away by the quirky circumstances of a world I could never understand. While it is not out and out historical fact, I am that much closer to understanding this totally foreign religion without fear and just a little self-indulgent anger. It is, after all, a novel.

A superb read through and through!
reviewed The 19th Wife on + 30 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 5
This book kept me spell bound to the end. I loved the historical fiction sections because there were so many different ways of moving the story along. Ebershoff uses many different styles of writing including memoires, newspaper articles, diary entries, etc. It kept me guessing until the end of how the two stories (one historical, the other modern) would come together in the end. I couldn't put the book down.
reviewed The 19th Wife on + 98 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
This book contained quite a bit of Mormon history along with murder mystery. The mystery, set in the present day, involves a "Lost Boy" trying to figure out if his mother killed his father,.

The history, unknown to many, is the story of the building of the Mormon faith. I did not think this would be compelling, but it was.

Well written, fascinating, and worth reading.
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reviewed The 19th Wife on
When I began reading this book, I was afraid it might not hold my attention. However, as I read on, I became more and more interested in the parallel and somehow entwined stories. I ended up looking forward each day to my next chance to spend time reading the book and even stayed up rather late several nights to make faster progress.

The characterizations seemed real, the frequent switching from the early days of Mormonism to the present, and from narrative to (sometimes made-up, but convincing) documents, newspaper articles, and letters, far from confusing me, enriched the story. I learned a lot--something that always increases a book's value for me. Obviously a great deal of research went into the writing of this one, and the author is careful not to leave the reader feeling deceived by the way he has fictionalized the story.

All things considered, I found it a really satisfying read, in spite of certain distracting mistakes in English grammar (for example, after a series of three plurals, the singular "it" is used to refer to the items in question). It is all too easy to fall prey to the trickery of a word processor, so I do not blame the author. Rather, I think this book deserved a better job of editing.
reviewed The 19th Wife on + 39 more book reviews
I read this after watching the movie.. and it varies quite a bit. I already had an idea about the plot and outcome, but this was a good read that kept me interested throughout. I have to admit, there were times where I was a bit confused about which story should be the focal point (it's one of those story-within-a-story books)... but I was interested in both and kept reading. All in all this was a three star read for me.. attention grabbing, interesting, historical facts mixed with fiction, and some added drama. I would recommend it to a friend, I'm glad I read it... just not sure I would read it for a second time.
reviewed The 19th Wife on + 2 more book reviews
I only read the first chapters of the book. The plot seemed silly.

Book Wiki

Common Title
Original Publication Date (YYYY-MM-DD)
People/Characters
Ann Eliza Young (Primary Character)
Jordan Scott (Primary Character)

Genres: