Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The 19th Wife


Title: The 19th Wife
Author: David Ebershoff
Pages: 514
Yearly Count b: 76

About a group of remaining "Firsts" or Fundamentalists, who were the group Mormons who practiced polygamy and in some places still do, the 19th Wife is an insightful and intense read. Ebershoff goes into extreme detail informing the reader about polygamy (the past and present). In the beginning all Mormons were polygamists, but in our day only sectioned off groups (and some would argue that Mormon leaders) are still practicing. I enjoyed all the research David Ebershoff did about the Mormon cult and all the insight that was provided, even though the 19th Wife is a novel. Ebershoff interviewed many subjects and wrote the 19th Wife as a composite portrayal, for that reason it is a novel, however it is based on factual material. He performed interviews and obtained pertinent paperwork in order to learn about his subjects full circle.

This novel is divided in to parts, one is a modern day murder mystery in polygamist society in Utah. The second is the story of Brigham Young's 19th wife who left Brigham and went around the nation exposing the horrors of polygamy and the toll it was taking on the Mormon women and children, especially young boys. Both stories are very informative, captivating and well written.

One aspect I that made the book for me was that David does an excellent job in including personable characters. His characters are real, with real hurt yet not distant. The character development kept me engaged and interested in what was going to happen, I had a connection with them that carried me through the pages.

As much as it was interesting to read, I found it long. The 19th Wife is an amazing book, no doubt, but at least for me it slowed down in the middle. I was much more interested in the story about the modern day polygamists, which made reading trough the other story (the chapters are interwoven with each other) harder. If the topic is one that really interests you I could see you just devouring this read. I enjoyed it, but I just didn't absolutely love it. It is still worth the read for sure.

David Ebershoff's site on the 19th Wife
Listen to David Ebershoff interview on NPR

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I read this as part of the TLC Book Tours, here are the remaining stops:

Wednesday, Nov. 5th: Anniegirl1138

Thursday, Nov. 6th: The Tome Traveller

Friday, Nov. 7th: Educating Petunia

Monday, Nov. 10th: The Literate Housewife

Wednesday, Nov. 12th: Diary of an Eccentric

Friday, Nov. 14th: Book Chase

and remember to:


Karen said...

Thanks for your review. I have been debating whether or not to read this one or not but I am getting a message that is mainly positive from most bloggers.

Anonymous said...

Good review! I have been curious about polygamists... but especially how women endure there.. Maybe if I get the book; I will give it a try :)

thanks !

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed this book. Maybe it has something to do with my fascination with the FLDS - I read a bunch of books by former FLDS members this summer.

Madeleine said...

Just ordered THE 19th wife at my library :}}

Trish said...

I've been really curious about this book, especially since I have a lot of family members who are Mormon (I grew up in the church but don't practice anymore). I actually recently found out that my great great grandfather was a polygamist back before Utah became a state (which is around the time that it was banned from church policy). And none of the leaders of the main Mormon church are polygamist these days--the fundamentalists are in no way affiliated with the regular church...

Anna said...

Great review! I appreciate your honest. I'm very excited about my upcoming tour stop!

Diary of an Eccentric

bethany said...

karen- I think it depends on how interested you are on the topic :) I cannot say either way, because it really comes down to taste. It does seemt he general opinion is good on it though.

Veens- Thank you Veens! Yes, it was an interesting portrayal for sure.

bermudaonion- I am glad you liked it, I have seen several FLDS books writen about lately, maybe on your blog! :) I think this one was about as much as I could handle though. I am really glad you enjoyed it.

madeline- I hope you enjoy it!!

trish- yeah, I knew this would be an issue, since I knew several of you are/were LDS. It is hard to see one's beliefs misjudged. I even was thinking of that in writing the review, hope I didn't bother anyone. I tried not to, but it is hard when you don't know what could be hurtful.Thanks so much for your comment, and your insight!!!!
Do you think you'll read this one?

Anna- Yes, I know you will have an excellent tour stop!! :)

Trish said...

Bethany - I wasn't offended in any way by your review and I don't think you said anything out of lines! I do get a little frustrated when people think that the main LDS church still practices polygamy.

Anyway, I am interested in this one! I've always been fascinated by Brigham Young and his life--I've even been to his house in downtown SLC a few times. And especially interested after finding out recently that my great great grandfather took a second wife back when Utah was still being settled.

Anonymous said...

I really appreciate your review, Bethany. I'm over half way through now, but it's long for me. I absolutely love parts off and on, but it's taken me over a week to read it so far and that's long for me. I still like it, though.