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Most Helpful Favorable Review
8 out of 11 people found this review helpful.
Enlightening and Satisfying from Start to Finish
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, 2008Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Most Helpful Critical Review
6 out of 9 people found this review helpful.
A very entertaining read!
posted by sassafras on January 14, 2010Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
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 NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 6, 2014
Posted May 30, 2014
Posted May 25, 2014
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,Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
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.
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
Posted January 23, 2014
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 NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 24, 2013
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
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Posted August 8, 2012
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 NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
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 NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 26, 2012
Posted March 6, 2012
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.
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Posted March 3, 2012
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?Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
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.
Posted February 5, 2012
Posted January 9, 2012
Posted January 1, 2012
Posted December 27, 2011
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 NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 7, 2011
Posted October 23, 2011
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 NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 27, 2011