Tuesday, February 10, 2009

What We're Reading: The 19th Wife

The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff grabs you immediately with the tale of Jordan Scott, a 20 year old gay man whose mother is accused of “nailing an ace shot and blowing his father’s heart clean from his chest”; in other words murdering his polygamist father. Jordan was kicked out of his family’s fundamentalist Mormon church at 14 by his mother. He was actually dumped out on the highway outside Mesadale, Arizona. Now he’s returned to prove his Mom’s innocence. Juxtaposed to this is the tale of feisty Ann Eliza Young, the real-life 19th rebel wife of Mormon leader Brigham Young. We see her slow evolution from a hesitant and manipulated young Mormon woman to her developing strong resistance to Brigham Young, as his 19th wife in a plural marriage, and to his entire polygamous empire in the territory of Utah. As an added note, “Ebershoff explains how his character differs from the actual Ann Eliza, who published two autobiographies, the first of which helped put pressure on the Mormon church to renounce polygamy in 1890.” This book is an engrossing read both in terms of historical detail and an entertaining modern day mystery involving fundamentalist Mormon society.

Submitted by Holly

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