Customer Reviews for

The 19th Wife

Average Rating 3.5
( 354 )
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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

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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

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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    Posted December 25, 2010

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