Saturday, January 5, 2013

The 19th Wife

This book is this month's pick for my book club. When I saw the title, and realized that this was a book about polygamy, I got a little excited(weird,I know). I have a strange fascination with polygamy and in specific, sister wives. Maybe it's just the fact that I am an exhausted mother of three talking, here. But, the idea of having other women to share the burden of the housework, childcare and all of the other millions of things that need to be done(your husband wants some extracurricular after-dark marital bonding and you're too tired- send him over to the next bedroom...guilt-free!) sounds, well- freaking amazing! Of course, I must be the first wife. You know...the one in charge. Then, I am reminded of the fact that these women actually have to like, live with me. And that our menstrual cycles will synchronize and we will all be PMSing at the same time! Oh, the horror- daydream over!

Whew! You didn't expect to hear about my disturbing views regarding sister wives on a book blog, did you? On to the book...

The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff is a story told by dual narrators - Ann Eliza Young(a fictional character based on a true woman- the 19th wife of Brigham Young in the late 1800s) and Jordan Scott, a modern day young man who has been thrown out of the fundamentalist polygamist sect he has grown up in. Jordan spends the entirety of the book investigating the murder of his father, determined to set his mother(whose been accused of the murder) free. Jordan's search for the true killer of his father intertwines with Ann Eliza's narrative of her journey out polygamy.

I vacillated about how to rate this book. For the first half of the book, I was loving and relishing reading it. Unfortunately, the second half felt tedious, and I felt that the author was giving far too many details about inconsequential things. In fact, the last few chapters felt like work, and I was ready to move on to the next book in my library bag. Still, I think it is a book work reading. David Ebershoff is a talented writer and accomplishes the rare feat of having two narrators whose stories are both equally compelling. I certainly think that this story is relevant today in light of the horrific stories coming out of polygamous sects around the country. I just wish the book had been about a hundred pages and a few characters lighter. Goodreads rating - 3 out of 5 stars.


  1. That's exactly how I started to feel about it. I would have given it 5 stars, but Ann Eliza's story just got a bit too long for me. But, I loved Johnny enough to keep it at a 4 rating.

  2. This is on my TBR pile and I can't wait to read it. It just sounds so different and interesting. Thanks for the heads up though, I will have to stay dedicated! I really enjoyed your review.

    I hope to see a lot more posts by you in the future! I am now a New Follower!

    If you get a chance please check out my blog as well.