The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff
A Novel

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Synopsis

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.


From the Hardcover edition.
 

About David Ebershoff

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David Ebershoff is the author of two novels, Pasadena and The Danish Girl, and a short-story collection, The Rose City. His fiction has won a number of awards, including the Rosenthal Foundation Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the Lambda Literary Award, and has been translated into ten languages to critical acclaim. Ebershoff has taught creative writing at New York University and Princeton and is currently an adjunct assistant professor in the graduate writing program at Columbia University. For many years he was the publishing director of the Modern Library, and he is currently an editor-at-large for Random House. He lives in New York City.From the Hardcover edition.
 
Published August 5, 2008 by Random House. 530 pages
Genres: History, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction, Religion & Spirituality, Gay & Lesbian, Self Help. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The 19th Wife

Kirkus Reviews

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Ebershoff borrows elsewhere from history to recapitulate a San Francisco newspaper’s condemnation of Brigham Young as “a confidence man in the grand tradition of the hoodwinkers of the West.” Meanwhile, in the present, a young Mormon man begins to examine the life he is falling away from, returni...

Jul 01 2008 | Read Full Review of The 19th Wife: A Novel

The New York Times

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There are many indications that David Ebershoff conducted prodigious research to write his novel about polygamy.

Aug 04 2008 | Read Full Review of The 19th Wife: A Novel

The New York Times

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In a prison diary — one of the many fictional documents in David Ebershoff’s third novel, “The 19th Wife” — the Mormon leader Brigham Young states one such problem plainly: “I know my faith to be the true faith of God .

Aug 29 2008 | Read Full Review of The 19th Wife: A Novel

The Guardian

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The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff Buy it from the Guardian bookshop Search the Guardian bookshop Dual time-frames have become such a cliché of book-club faux-lit that it's easy to forget...

Feb 14 2009 | Read Full Review of The 19th Wife: A Novel

Publishers Weekly

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This exquisite tour de force explores the dark roots of polygamy and its modern-day fruit in a renegade cult not recognized by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (aka the Mormon church).

Jun 23 2008 | Read Full Review of The 19th Wife: A Novel

Publishers Weekly

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With such a sprawling tale to relate, a few narrators (Kimberly Farr, Rebecca Lowman, Arthur Morey and Daniel Passer) divide up the roles and deliver a solid, professional reading, true to Ebershoff’s prose.

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Examiner

David Ebershoff’s The 19th Wife is a novel that switches between the late 1800’s during the start of the Mormon Church (mostly focusing on Ann Eliza Young, the 19th wife to Brigham Young) and a modern day polygamous sect of the Mormon Church (mostly focusing on Jordan Scott, whose mother is the 1...

Mar 08 2012 | Read Full Review of The 19th Wife: A Novel

Book Reporter

Ann Eliza Young was once the 19th wife of Mormon leader Brigham Young before she denounced him publicly.

Dec 22 2010 | Read Full Review of The 19th Wife: A Novel

The Independent

Back in the 21st century, Jordan recalls "laundry lines with 50 little shirts flapping in the wind", and the horror of coming face to face with his father's "marriage management notebook".

Jan 22 2009 | Read Full Review of The 19th Wife: A Novel

Suite 101

Rhoda and Samuel each have problems but together they could be successful..

Feb 26 2010 | Read Full Review of The 19th Wife: A Novel

The Bookbag

The first of these wives is Ann Eliza Young, the real-life 19th spouse of the real-life 19th Century Mormon prophet Brigham Young.

Nov 21 2012 | Read Full Review of The 19th Wife: A Novel

Pajiba

Within Jordan’s story there are excerpts from a master’s thesis about Ann Eliza Young, and letters, again from her relatives, fleshing out her tale.

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San Francisco Chronicle

The 19th wife in question is based on the real-life Ann Eliza Young, a strong-willed wife of Brigham Young who, in 1873, revolted against the indignities and hypocrisy of polygamy.

Aug 12 2008 | Read Full Review of The 19th Wife: A Novel

Bookmarks Magazine

Anne Trubek Chicago Tribune 2.5 of 5 Stars "We can assume, from the uncanny way that Ebershoff’s present-day story line echoes themes raised by his version of Ann Eliza Young, that the two principal narratives are meant to reinforce each other, across time and circumstance.

Aug 03 2008 | Read Full Review of The 19th Wife: A Novel

BookRack

In the historical part of the novel we read about people that existed in the real world, not just on the pages of a novel.

May 15 2010 | Read Full Review of The 19th Wife: A Novel

Houston Press

You can’t tell them too much.” The novel intertwines Ann Eliza’s story with the modern-day tale of a lost boy named Jordan Scott whose mother abandoned him on the side of the road when he was a teen, after he was seen holding hands with his step-sister.

Sep 03 2008 | Read Full Review of The 19th Wife: A Novel

Reader Rating for The 19th Wife
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