Customer Reviews for

The 19th Wife

Average Rating 3.5
( 352 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(86)

4 Star

(128)

3 Star

(78)

2 Star

(29)

1 Star

(31)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

Most Helpful Favorable Review

8 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

Enlightening and Satisfying from Start to Finish

In a nutshell: I've really enjoyed it!! I've learned a lot, and the book is fascinating. It is written a little differently than most books - it is two stories told simultaneously throughout the book. The story of Ann Eliza Young (Brigham Young's 19th wife, late 1800's)...
In a nutshell: I've really enjoyed it!! I've learned a lot, and the book is fascinating. It is written a little differently than most books - it is two stories told simultaneously throughout the book. The story of Ann Eliza Young (Brigham Young's 19th wife, late 1800's) is told from the time of her parents involvement in the Firsts section of the Mormons, through her crusade to end polygamous relationships in the United States. We also read the current-day story of Jordan Scott, who was thrown out of the compound in Utah at 14 years of age because the Prophet told his parents he needed to go - how amazing is that!! His mother (wife 19 out of 25ish wives) is accused of murdering his father six years after he leaves, and we learn a lot about the inner workings of the compound as Jordan digs into what really happened. In addition to the two stories, some of the passages in the book are not really chapters, but rather types of documents that help tell the story and present the reader with information: preface, essay, LDS (Latter-Day Saints) archive materials, newspaper articles, letters, etc. I found these to be fascinating, adding to the story rather than detracting from it. I just can't stop talking about this book to my friends and relatives! It's a great read, and I love Jordan's "family" by the end of the book!

My Review:
While the story is written as fiction, and the author has a note at the back of the book confirming that, it is factually based. I found the book very enlightening and entertaining.

Characters: David Ebershoff has done a wonderful job of creating believable characters in both the stories taking place within the book. He gives us a good idea of how the Firsts got a hold on people, what the Prophet was like, and how people lived in the late 1800's under his leadership. He paints a very believable story. Additionally, he does well in the modern-day story of Jordan and his mother, showing sometimes harsh realities facing families and children within the polygamous community. I really like what happened with Jordan's "family" at the end of the book.

Story-Line: The story-line was fascinating - much better than I expected it to be. It slowly drew me in, to the point that I just had to keep reading to find out what happened next! It also gave me a lot to think about, which I find refreshing. I was fascinated to learn that similarly to the Underground Railroad during the time of slavery in the United States, there was similar help for people wanting to leave the Prophet's compound.

Readability: This was a very enjoyable read. The use of alternate reading sources (letters, articles, archives, etc instead of only having traditional chapters) was fun (I had read some other reviews that said it was distracting and not helpful, but I disagree - possibly because I was warned ahead of time? I like to think I would have liked this style regardless). The transitions between the past and present-day stories was good and led the reader nicely through an understanding and development of the story.

Overall: A very enlightening and enjoyable book! I will be recommending this book to the book clubs I participate in - it would be a great book club read (the author has provided Reading Group Questions), providing readers with plenty to think about and discuss. Even if you don't normally read this type of book, stretch outside your comfort zone and give this book a try!

posted by wbarker on October 26, 2008

Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review

Most Helpful Critical Review

6 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

A very entertaining read!

I couldn't put this book down. It's a murder mystery set in Utah, and at the same time flashes back to the time of Brigham Young and the start of polygamy. Mormons won't find this work of fiction very flattering though, as Young is seen through the eyes of his nineteent...
I couldn't put this book down. It's a murder mystery set in Utah, and at the same time flashes back to the time of Brigham Young and the start of polygamy. Mormons won't find this work of fiction very flattering though, as Young is seen through the eyes of his nineteenth wife, Ann Eliza Young.

posted by sassafras on January 14, 2010

Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing 21 – 40 of 355 Customer Reviews
Page 2 of 18
  • Posted March 17, 2009

    Maters Thesis writen by BYU student reveals polygamy corrupted the soul of all involved

    I didn't know what to expect from this book and came away learning a lot.

    What I found most interesting is at the end of the book there is a research paper by a Master's Student of Womens Studies at BYU. She is a current Mormon and had been studying polygamy in the early years of the Mormon Church for about two years so that she could write a Master's Thesis on the topic. Both founding prophet Joseph Smith and the next prophet Brigham Young fully participated in polygamy and had approximately 50 wives each. It is difficult to know the exact amount because even though the first tenet of the Mormon chuch at that time was that the only way to obtain salvation was to be in a polygamous marriage, most of the marriages were done in secret and the women would not be at liberty to tell anyone.
    The conclusion of the Thesis was "In thruth, polygamy generally compromised the moral and spiritual development of its women and, equally important, its children." Also, "plural marriage could compromise the husband's soul as much as, if not more than, that of the plural wife." "This too is an awkward revelation, for it suggests our beloved leaders Joseph and Brigham, each of whom had at least half a hundred wives, were morally compromised by their conjugal indulgences. It brings me much pain to type this conclusion"

    The United States at the time that Utah wanted to become a State would not allow polygamy to be practiced and so Brigham Young removed the first and most important doctrine of the church, polygamy, so that he could have his State of Utah.
    "The doctrine Joseph and Brigham had preached as the Work of God was now being revised. If polygamy was no longer a divine doctrine, many in and out of the Church asked, what about the Doctrine & Covenaants as a whole? And what about the Book of Mormon itself. could it too be edited, revised, trimmed, amended, and otherwise altered by Church leaders in Salt Lake?" As printed in her Thesis.

    I also learned how Brigham Young would send Fathers on missions to England and confiscate their businesses and keep the profits when the profits should have gone to support the many wives and children of the recently departed father

    Also how Brigham Young preached the Law of Blood Atonment. He said, "Will you love your brothers and sisters likewise, when they have a sin that connot be atoned for without the shedding of their blood? Will you love that man or that woman well enough to shed their blood? that is what Jesus meant. This is loving our neighbor as our self; if he needs help, help him; if he wants salvation, and it is necessary to spill his blood upon the earth in order that he may be saved, spill it."

    The book weaves fiction with non-fiction to create a mystery of sorts.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 6, 2014

    Historical fiction with a twisr

    I truly enjoy historical fiction but David Ebershoff has stepped up the genre.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2014

    Interesting and Enjoyable

    The historical plot was more enjoyable than the modern one. Overall, an interesting read.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 25, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    The 19th Wife is a novel with two alternating plot lines. In the

    The 19th Wife is a novel with two alternating plot lines. In the present day, twenty year old Jordan Scott,
    who was raised in Utah in a polygamous Mormon sect, was exiled
    at age fourteen from his community. His mother drove him to the local highway,
    handed him a few dollars and abandoned him. Years later, when Jordan's father is
    found shot dead in his home, his mother is accused and arrested. Jordan visits her in prison,
    where she insists she is innocent. He then begins to put the pieces together to try and figure out who
    really killed his father.

    The story also travels back to the 1800's and Ann Eliza Young, the prophet Brigham Young's 19th wife.
    At age twenty four, Ann Eliza Webb was forced to marry Young, the sixty year old president of the
    Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Can you believe that? And, she had to marry him because
    Young tricked her brother into bankrupting himself and he purposely tainted his name with the
    community. Young then made a deal with Ann Eliza's brother, saying he would pay off his debt and
    return him to good standing with the church, if he convinced his sister to marry him. After several
     years, a miserable Ann Eliza ends up divorcing Young. She wrote a memoir, Wife No. 19, in order to
     inform others what the life of a plural wife was really like. Both in this novel and in real life, she tried
    to put a stop to plural marriage.


    The way author David Ebershoff tells this story is fantastic. I was enthralled as I listened to the
     accounts of life in Salt Lake City, Utah. He weaves in fiction and fact wonderfully and tells this dual
     story seamlessly. Much of the accounts of life in the polygamous sect were uncomfortable to hear, yet fascinating at the same time.

    I listened to this one on audio, over eighteen hours worth, and the four narrators did a great job.
     I had no problem telling these characters apart and I followed the two different storylines easily.
     However, I do think that in reading the actual book I would have gotten a better grasp on the excerpts
    from newspaper and article clippings that appeared at random throughout.

    I did enjoy Ann Eliza Young's account more than the modern day murder mystery.
    It was an unsettling story and the author did a great job at getting Ann Eliza to draw you into her
    narrative. She would sometimes ask the reader's opinion... "Dear reader..." as she told her account.
    Yet at times, I wondered just how reliable any of these narrators were, especially Ann Eliza. In the
    end I found her to be a fascinating person.

    The story leads you all the way past Anne Eliza's divorce from Young and the
    ensuing court battle over whether she deserved alimony from him. Her son Lorenzo narrates some of
    the book towards the end, as he tells of what it was like growing up in a polygamous sect.

    In the end, when I found out who killed Jordan's father, I was taken by surprise. I had no idea who the killer was going to be, but it made sense. The story has a bittersweet ending and the last few lines regarding Jordan and his mother made me a little misty eyed.
    I think The 19th Wife would make for a nice group read, it's a story that begs to be discussed.

    disclaimer:
    I borrowed by copy of The 19th Wife from my local library.
    This review is my honest opinion. I did not receive any type of compensation for reading and reviewing
     this book. While I receive free books from publishers and authors, I am under no obligation to write a
    positive review. 

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2014

    Great read

    I was surprised at the many negative comments. Ofen I read reviews and take them with several grains of salt. So glad I added a few grains this time as this book is an excellent read well written. I have n idea how true to fact with "the church" this is and not really concerned. It's an excellent work of fiction based on some fact.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 24, 2013

    Dffccvv

    Ffvtfv

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 11, 2012

    Ive found a small problem

    When i arrive at page 105, the page refused to turn. I made many attempts to turn the page, it would catch but not go to 106. I was able to pass it some time later, but i did find it a hassel

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 8, 2012

    Revealing & educating

    I enjoyed the journey this book took me on. I was educated and ultimately the reader has to make their own decisions on whom to side with.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 26, 2012

    Sucked into the past and present

    This story alternates between a modern-day polygamist plot line and the infamous 19th wife of Brigham Young. Throughout the text, I questioned, "Is this true or not?". Ebershoff did an excellent job weaving a fictional tale with non fiction facts. Enjoy!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 23, 2012

    Good read, interesting subject

    This was a topic I hadn't really ever spent time on before. It was an interesting and enlightening, although a little bit biased I'm sure... book on plural marriage. The life of Ann Eliza Young, Joseph Smith and Brigham Young is fascinating. I recommend the book, especially for book groups. As far as the movie based on the book - skip it. Very disappointing.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 26, 2012

    Loved it!

    So good. Love the historical aspect parallel to the modern day story.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 6, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    There are a number of praises I give The 19th Wife, and only a c

    There are a number of praises I give The 19th Wife, and only a couple of criticisms. The beginning of the book was fantastic. I felt as if I were learning something on every other page. Whether it was general history of the LDS, or facts about individuals within the LDS church (Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, Ann Eliza, and a few other minor people mentioned), this book inspired me to dig into research. I was truly learning a lot. Unfortunately, this excitement only lasted for about half of the book. Somewhere in the middle I began to lose interest. It eventually turns from eye opening and interesting, to an over emotional novel (and a poor one at that). There were a few times where I was about to set it aside, but I had already invested so much time and interest, I felt like I had to finish it (and I hoped it would pick back up, but it never did).

    I was pleased by the author's ability to write with a purpose, while at the same time giving all sides of the spectrum a fair representation. Yes, it's obvious that this book takes an anti-polygamist side, but while the author voices those opinions, he doesn't forget that there are, in fact, people (including women) who are comfortable and set in their polygamist ways, and while the book expresses the dark sides of polygamist societies, he doesn't pretend it's that black and white.

    My final acknowledgment I'd like to make, is the authors creation of characters. I'm not talking about the fictional characters (they weren't all that interesting), but the way the author characterizes historical figures, specifically Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and Ann Eliza. The book didn't make them out to be clean cut heroes and villains. Joseph and Brigham were not evil monsters, while Ann Eliza was not a complete saint. While the leaders of the early LDS church were not spared from the fact that they were corrupt, hypocritical, and selfish, they are portrayed as having positive personality traits, and certain admirable characteristics as well. The author also goes as far as to leave open the possibility that these men truly believed they were working for God. With Ann Eliza's character, I half expected her to be perfect. On the contrary, I finished the book strongly disliking her (perhaps this is not the author's intention, but it's what I've come to throughout my research, which the book initiated). The fact that she did great work, was an inspiration for the end of polygamy in America, and possessed an amazing amount of courage, she was still human, and the author didn't hide this fact. Despite her strong points, there is obviously an over emotional, somewhat hypocritical, and extremely vain side to Ann Eliza, which probably helped to taint history's understanding of polygamy. The author did not hide this, and instead came right out with it and used it to form believable characters.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 3, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    We were appalled when we first learned about the polygamy practi

    We were appalled when we first learned about the polygamy practiced by the Latter-Day Saints in Utah. We were shocked and horrified, but there is no denial that we were curious about their so-called religious duty, as claimed by the Prophet who leads the people - how many wives did he have in total? And was the practice of polygamy like the Prophet said, God's will or was it merely a camouflage? An excuse for the Prophet's inability to rein his animalistic behaviour?

    In The 19th Wife, David Ebershoff presents a fictional tale which resonates with Ann Eliza Young's experience in polygamous marriage, although it basically tells a different story. Our protagonist Jordan Scott, is a 'lost boy' - someone excommunicated by the Church of Latter-Day Saints, all because he holds hands with his step-sister, Queenie, whom he views as a sister, confidante and friend. Later, when he is older, he learns about her mother's imprisonment, and realizes that she is accused of murdering his father. He decides to visit his mother, and later embarks on a journey to clear her name.

    In between the Jordan's story, the author inserted Ann Eliza's memoir, within which some of the deepest secrets of polygamy are revealed. I have a slight feeling that Jordan's story is not the main point of the story as Ann Eliza's story takes place more often. Jordan's tale is more like a side dish to Ann Eliza's main course.

    Since she was young, Ann Eliza's wit and intuition already made her question the legality of the Prophet's rule. An example was when she fell seriously ill, and was taken to the Endowment House to be cleansed, anointed and forced to watch a play acted by a few of the Prophet's followers. As oppose to the other Sisters' (the Prophet's numerous wives) awe, she only questioned the play:

    Why is Eve wearing a horse-hair wig? I didn't realize Satan knew the Scottish jig. --- page 289

    Ann Eliza's father, Chauncey Webb previously reacted vigorously towards Brigham's decision of making polygamy one of their policies. He claimed that he loved one person only, that was his wife and rejected Brigham's order to take another wife. But midway through, he gave up resisting and married Lydia, their house caretaker. Somewhere in his mid-years, Chauncey took three wives in a week. Ann Eliza's words expertly summarizes her disappointment in her father's actions and view on polygamy:

    "... I suppose my greatest disappointment has been realizing my father, like Joseph and Brigham before him, tried to shroud his passions in the mantle of religion. He used God to defend his adultery." --- page 253

    Jordan's quest of rescuing her mother from a crime that she never committed was filled with unexpected discoveries. He received help from many people who later became his good friends. He also found his true love in Tom. Just to make a note, I was at first a little confused with Jordan's identity. But after some time, I realized that he was a boy - albeit one with unusual sexual interest (he's gay).

    David Ebershoff's The 19th Wife is a book that expertly reveals the secrets of polygamy and points out precisely how blind faith can backfire on a person's life. It also shows the power of words - especially from one that claims to be God's representative on Earth. If you're interested in learning more about polygamy or Mormonism in general, or have always enjoyed reading well-researched historical fiction, don't hesitate to pick up this book.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 5, 2012

    Interesting

    Very interesting! Some parts are a bit wordy, and had to do some research afterward.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 9, 2012

    Surprising good read

    Twoards the end it gets a little monotinous but it was a good historical fiction read

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2012

    Excellent historical fiction book.

    I couldn't put this book down.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 27, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A Compelling Story

    I found this book to be a remarkable story with twists and turns throughout the book that can keep your attention. I enjoyed the plot and while it took a minute for all the characters to fall into place, it is a wonderful read once they do. While I can not say that it gives a complete real look into a Mormon household, it does give voice to those less heard. The 19th Wife is a bit shocking to read in some parts, but overall Ebershoff delivers a fantastic story.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 7, 2011

    Love this book

    Couldn't put this down. I would highly recommend for a book club read. Our group had great discussions around this novel!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 23, 2011

    Great read!

    Very informative, althought fiction, about the Mormon Church in early days and today. Flashes to present, through a compelling story with characters in a splinter sect called the Later, that still practice and believe in polygamy. could not put it down. Excellent book. Highly recommended!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 27, 2011

    Good read!

    Gave good insight into thr church history. Also gave a more honest view of the female plight associated with this group.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing 21 – 40 of 355 Customer Reviews
Page 2 of 18