Customer Reviews for

The 19th Wife

Average Rating 3.5
( 351 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(86)

4 Star

(127)

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 1 – 20 of 354 Customer Reviews
Page 1 of 18
  • Posted October 26, 2008

    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) 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!<BR/><BR/>My Review:<BR/>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. <BR/><BR/>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.<BR/><BR/>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.<BR/><BR/>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.<BR/><BR/>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!

    8 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 14, 2010

    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 nineteenth wife, Ann Eliza Young.

    6 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 13, 2011

    Dont bother

    While the writer is clever switching between various texts (some true stories, some based on true stories, some made up) it is difficult to determine fact from fiction. The actual story of Jordan and Johnny tracking down the killer is anticlimactic. That story was a bit interesting in the beginning but lacks real substance. The book is weak overall and was a huge disappointment.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 2, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Very Enjoyable Read

    This was a most enlightening and interesting read. Though the book is fiction, it draws on the memoirs of Anne Eliza Young who was purported to be Brigham Young's nineteenth wife(I say purported because it appears that he had quite a few and she was probably not really #19 but may have been somewhere around #25) to weave a tale that will captivate you almost from the first page. The story merges the life of Anne Eliza in the past with that of Jordan Scott in the present. Anne Eliza's fame/infamy sprang from her decision to divorce her husband in so public a manner for what she saw as his abandoment and mistreatment of her. She took him to court and wrote a book to discredit him and his polygamous practices. Obviously by so doing she became persona non grata with her former church members and their families. She fought an extensive battle with Brigham Young both in the court of law and in the court of public opinion. Her battle would prove to be instrumental in dismantling polygamy as a major belief system of the Mormon church. <BR/><BR/>The parallel and present day story that is told alongside Anne Eliza's is that of Jordan Scott whose mother is herself a 19th wife and accused of shooting her husband to death. Years before, Jordan had been abandoned on the side of the road because his father had caught him holding hands with his step sister and the prophet considered this behavior to be inappropriate(by the way he was 14 when this happened). It is important to mention that Jordan's family was considered fundamentalist and not part of the Latter Day Saints(Mormons). His community was headed by a prophet and almost every family was polygamist or soon to be. When Jordan returns to help his mother after her arrest, he is now 20 and still carries with him the scars of his earlier abandonment and ostracism. <BR/><BR/>Both stories are told side by side with Anne Eliza's story occupying most of the book. Though I found the modern day story interesting, I was not blown away by it. The real genuis is the way in which the author used Anne Eliza's two books, church documents, newspaper reports and people who may have known her to create a portrait of a woman who must be admired for her spunk. I imagine that women's rights were not what they are today and getting a divorce during those times for a woman must have been a difficult venture. With that in mind, I cannot begin to comprehend the guts it must have taken her to get such a public divorce from the leader of a powerful church. Her books, lectures and later works where all driven by what she saw as the unbridled male lust that was manifested in polygamy and the women and children held hostage to this practice. <BR/><BR/>In my opinion, this is a very well written book that gives you a look into the early history of the Mormon church. Obviously you need to do your own research to find out what is factual and what is fiction. Anne Eliza though very informative on the practices of her church at the time was also a biased author whose anger toward Brigham Young clouded some of her writing. I would highly recommend this book.

    4 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted December 27, 2012

    Dissapointment

    I purchased this book thinking it would be a good read but i was wrong. It didnt mention the main carachter till the seventh chapter. And to be honest with you i thought it was well, boring.. so if i were you i wouldnt waste my well earned money on this book. Period. I did not have a good expierience with this book.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 27, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    The 19th Wife

    My Synopsis:


    The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff is a story within a story. One part historical narrative. One part modern day polygamist murder mystery. LOL... I know how it sounds! In 1875 Ann Eliza Young, the infamous 19th Wife of the Mormon leader, Brigham Young embarked on a campaign to end the practice of polygamy within the Mormon Church. Sounds stuffy, but it's definitely not.

    Throughout the book we learn the history of Ann Eliza's family and how polygamy effected them. From Joseph Smith's first revelation, through Ann Eliza's ex-communication and flight. Each story heard through the voices of it's characters. Memoirs, diary entry's, along with Mormon records give the reader a sense of who the people were, the places they lived and the struggles they faced.

    Another story starts to unfold with Jordan Scott, a young gay man, who was expelled from his polygamist home in modern day Utah. His mother is accused of murdering her polygamist husband, she too being the 19th wife. It's up to Jordan to figure out what really happened that night, the differences between, "The Firsts" and the LDS church of today, and where he fits into the picture.

    Both stories intertwine weaving a tale of power, religious fervor and hardship. What does Ann Eliza young have to do with Jordan Scott. You'll just have to read to find out!

    My Thoughts:

    This was a very powerful book, in my opinion. David Ebershoff is obviously a very good historian.

    I liked the book, though I found it somewhat confusing. The stories were easy to separate and you always knew which part of the story you were following, whether it was Eliza's story or Jordan's. The confusion for me was in whether it was actual historical evidence Ebershoff was using or whether the records were fictional. Were these the actual diaries and memoirs and letters from the people in Ann Eliza's life or were they all made up. It was just really hard for me to distinguish the difference. I know it is a novel but how much is based on fact?

    Regardless of whether those parts of the story were historically accurate or not, it certainly made for a very interesting read. I had not had much experience with Mormonism or their beliefs before reading this novel and it was very interesting. I knew they had been persecuted, and that polygamy was at one time a practice with them. I had no idea what the extent was.

    The reader should be aware that there is a bit of language in this book, but it's not every other word, or very distracting from the story.

    It was a very engaging book. A little on the long side at 544 pages, but definitely worth your time. The characters were appealing and their struggles, through not something we face everyday were easy to relate to.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 30, 2009

    Ugh

    I wish I hadn't wasted my money on this audio book. Sorry, but I couldn't find ANY redeeming point enough to even listen to it beyond the first few chapters -- did not want to pass it along to some other poor unsuspecting listener, so threw it out instead of donating to the local library.....

    3 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 12, 2012

    Very dissapointed. I was very excited to read this book because

    Very dissapointed. I was very excited to read this book because it was on a very interesting topic, I had heard good things about it, and the from the description I thought that is seemed very intriguing. However as soon as I started reading it I was dissipointed. The summary does not explain this book well, and Ann Eliza isn't even mentioned for the first 7 chapters. I feel like this could have been an amazing story, but the topic was simply put into a very poor setting. I hate saying this because I know how much work authors put into their books, but I do not recommend this book. I do want to say that I think this author is good at writing itself, but this book is just horrid.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted July 7, 2012

    Disappointing

    I purchased this book expecting a story of polygamous life in the fundamentalist community. It is, however, the fictional tale of a homosexual "lost" boy who seeks to discover the truth regarding the death of his father. The chapters rotate between solving the murderous crime and a "diary" of the 19th wife of Brigham Young. The story is too drawn out for personal enjoyment and is filled with offensive language.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 29, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Compelling!

    This one kept me engrossed from beginning to the much unexpected end. Much of the book focuses on the nineteenth century beginnings of polygamy and the Mormon faith, and at first I was put off by this,but was captivated by the very compelling story of Ann Eliza Young, Brigham Young's nineteenth wife. Compelling!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 26, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Disappointingly Boring

    In my own little mind I've always conceptualized Mormonism as the love child of the Pope and Ron L. Hubbard. You have these devoutly Christian followers with some pretty Sci-Fi beliefs. Throw in the polygamy factor and I am perversely fascinated. It's no surprise, then, that I was instantly drawn to The 19th Wife.
    Here we have dual story lines: The trials and tribulations of Brigham Young's infamous 19th Wife, Ann Eliza, partnered with the trials and tribulations of a 19th wife from a modern day polygamous cult accused of murdering her "husband". For all the research the author did in preparation for this novel (and it is obvious he did his homework) and with all the intrigue that currently surrounds these polygamist sects, the book truly fell short of the glory it could have been.
    Whereas the modern-day plot completely captivated me (Warren Jeffs meets Murder She Wrote) the fictitious excerpts from Ann Eliza's book, The 19th Wife, just blatantly dragged. One does get an education about the origins of Mormonism, the exodus of the Mormons to Salt Lake City, and the "philosophy" behind polygamy, but there is so much added fluff that the focus of the whole story gets bogged down. By the time the murderer in the modern day plot was revealed, I was so eager for the book to be over, I didn't even care.
    Overall this was a good book, but it could have been soooo much better.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 29, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A welcome addition to your library........

    From the first few pages of "The 19th Wife", you want to keep on reading. I was hesitant at first to read it because of the 514pgs, but don't let that scare you off! This is such a great book that you don't want to skip one single page.
    David Ebershoff does a rare and fantastic job of writing fiction, but convincing the reader that it's non-fiction-that these events are real and did happen. Some of the book is fact, some of it is not. He makes that crystal clear in Author's Notes and Acknowledgments. And the website that goes along with the book gives you even more detail and information, which makes the story even better.
    I highly recommend "The 19th Wife" to anyone who is looking for a great, new book to read. You will not disappointed!

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 27, 2010

    Couldn't stop reading it!

    This book is fascinating! A friend of mine recommended it and when I finally got around to reading it, I literally couldn't put it down. It has so many things going on, it keeps your attention. It was amazing to read about such a different lifestyle and belief system. The murder mystery woven in makes it that much more interesting. While I was reading it, it was all I could talk about and now have quite a few more people reading it too. Definitely a must read!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 15, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Imaginative and Interesting

    Creatively told fictionalized account of Mormon history and especially polygamy through the character of one of Brigham Young's wives. Ebershoff creates different "media" as one would encounter doing research--really clever and provides great variety in the reading. There's a contemporary story line which keeps things interesting though it is not as strong as the historical part (which is the better part of the book.) I thoroughly enjoyed this and look forward to our book group discussion.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 22, 2010

    The 19th Wife - a great read!

    An excellent account of the history of the LDS Church and the beginnings of poligamy. The story surrounding the beginnings of poligamy have become clouded and distorted through the years by the Mormon Church. This story though fictional is based upon the life of one of Brigham Youngs wives and her break from this bondage that the Mormon Church imposed upon her and many other women. The book also tells the story of a current wife of one of the "Firsts" the off shoot group that continue to practice poligamy. This is a tale of the current oppresive life these women and their children suffer under. The young males are often kicked out of the group to fend for themselves. Young girls are married off to much older men who have multiple wives. This group is accurately depicted as a cult which does not have connections with the current Mormon Church. The Mormon Church does not condone poligamy today but the church history is steeped in poligamy during the mid to late 1800's. The 19th wife Ann Eliza played a significant role in ending the practice.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 19, 2010

    19th Wife

    I really enjoyed reading the 19th Wife. The book goes from current situation to historical times. It was interesting how this women back in the 1800's could make a difference. Now days not many people like to take a stand for what they believe in their hearts. It was a book that keeps you interested. 19th Wife does make you think, it is also a good mystery. I would highly recommend this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted February 27, 2010

    a look at early mormon days

    Not being knowledgeable of the mormon church, I cannot state whether the references are accuract or not. It was an interesting theme but difficult to get into, I think it would be fun to read this in portions with a bookclub. I tended to get lost when the author switched from the current day to the past. I think the book would have been more successful if the author had stayed with the past for a first book and then had a sequel to the current day.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 11, 2010

    What a great read!

    This book sent me off in different directions more than once. It made me curious about the Mormon history and also made me look up a few words. I love it when that happens. Although centered around a murder mystery, it wasn't just the plot that made it impossible to put down. The characters were developed so well that I just couldn't wait to see what happened to all of them. Although, not always flattering to the Mormon faith, the things that were said and done made perfect sense in the context in which it was written. Excellent plot, likeable and in depth characters, the exploration of complex human issues....I will read this one again.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted November 15, 2009

    Great book

    I'd read Escape, a true story about modern polygamy and thought this was a good follow up to it. Though this story is fiction it is based on facts about polygamy and its history. I thought the story was interesting and liked learning more about the history of Mormonism.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted August 1, 2009

    A Page Turner!!!

    I couldn't put this book down!! An excellent combination of historical fact and current day fiction. I have recommended this book to many and everyone that has read it has loved it. Very well written and fascinating story.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 354 Customer Reviews
Page 1 of 18