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The 19th Wife

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3.63  ·  Rating Details ·  49,627 Ratings  ·  5,986 Reviews

Faith, I tell them, is a mystery, elusive to many, and never easy to explain.

Sweeping and lyrical, spellbinding and unforgettable, David Ebershoff’s The 19th Wife combines epic historical fiction with a modern murder mystery to create a brilliant novel of literary suspense. It is 1875, and Ann Eliza Young has recently separated from her powerful husband, Brigham Young, p

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Hardcover, 514 pages
Published August 5th 2008 by Random House (first published 2008)
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Elena Mats The book was published in 2009, the death certificate and grave were found in 2011. I am not sure about their indetification but you can check the…moreThe book was published in 2009, the death certificate and grave were found in 2011. I am not sure about their indetification but you can check the citation 18 on Wiki article to see the web page where the death certificate is published. (less)

Community Reviews

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Candace
Recently, I have been seeing a lot of reviews and advertisements for 'The 19th Wife' popping up everywhere. Whatever the reason, after this book popped up on my recommendations for the umpteenth time, I was intrigued. I downloaded the Audible version and started listening.

This book was absolutely fascinating! Aside from the stories being told, the format was unique. This book blends fact and fiction, telling the present-day fictional story of Jordan, a young man whose mother has recently been ch
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Elyse
Apr 01, 2009 Elyse rated it it was amazing
What was wrong with me? Didn't I review 'any' books when I first joined Goodreads? (guess not)

This book blew me away!!! I loved it --and gave it as a gift a couple of times. A VERY strong 5 star novel! A phenomenal polygamous fundamentalist-murder-mystery page- turning story....which alternates with a fictionalized memoir of Ann Eliza (the 19th wife of Brigham Young).

I come here today --because I just discovered 'yesterday' that a movie comes out this year called "The Danish Girl", which David
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Margitte
In a world where the term 'marriage' has taken on such a variety of forms, as well as meanings, this book, with its focus on American, Christian polygamy, and the history behind it, fits in perfectly.

The novel centers around the story of Ann Eliza Young, who, in the 1800s, was married to the Mormon profit and leader Brigham Young. The church is also known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In 1875 she fled the marriage and the church and spent practically the rest of her life ca
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David
Nov 22, 2008 David rated it it was ok
This is a book about polygamy, in Brigham's time and today. It uses the divided time frame technique, trying to link two stories; and liberally mixes history with fiction (to the point that it's very hard to discern what is history - and there's not much history by the time he's done).

There are two 19th wives. One is the real historical figure Ann Eliza Webb Young, married to Brigham. She was his 19th wife (on some lists - depending on the criteria). When she became disaffected and left the marr
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Jackie
Jun 05, 2008 Jackie rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: those who liked Under the Banner of Heaven and Escape
Recommended to Jackie by: Roxie Holcomb
This book is rather unusual because it's actually two books in one. One of the books is a well researched historical fiction novel about Ann Eliza Young, Mormon leader Brigham Young's "19th wife" who fled polygamy in the late 1800s and made it her life's mission to abolish it (succeeding, at least legally). The second book is a murder mystery involving a present day polygamist group, with a gay "lost boy" (polygamy sects often abandon young boys to the world so that they are not competition for ...more
Dave
Sep 09, 2008 Dave rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Mormon history buffs, mystery fans
Recommended to Dave by: NPR
Shelves: fiction-read
This is a provocative work. It deals with difficult issues in areas of community, doubt, faith, family and marriage. The author loosely interweaves two fictional stories; one of the effects of Mormon polygamy on a few people in the 19th century and another focusing on a fictional contemporary polygamous group in southern Utah that strongly resembles the FLDS group led by Warren Jeffs and his predecessors. Blending a contemporary murder mystery set in a fundamentalist/polygynous enclave, with a f ...more
Shannon
Oct 22, 2008 Shannon rated it did not like it
I was really looking forward to reading this book; it has great reviews and mixes historical fiction with a modern mystery. About polygamy, history, and mystery - I expected to love this novel. I was deeply disappointed. First, the reader can't tell when the author is writing a fiction part of the historical fiction and what is indeed part of history. There are no chapter notes of any kind to give the reader an idea of what is true and what he made up. An uneducated reader may be left believing ...more
Candi
Mar 13, 2009 Candi rated it it was ok
I was asked to answer questions at a Library Book Club about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that sparked because of this book. On doing research to know how to respond to some of the questions many have on why our faith practiced polygamy over 100 years ago, I came across an article that I felt answered a lot of questions that I agree with.
http://www.fairlds.org/Misc/Polygamy_...

The book club was very excited to ask difficult questions in a setting that was not offensive. I foun
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Kim
Aug 17, 2008 Kim rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Kim by: NPR
Shelves: 2008
This book made it into the realm of the I-can't-put-this-down! I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in Mormon history or religion in general (both topics which interest me). The major theme of this book is truth - who decides what is truth, does everyone have their own truth based on their desires?

I first heard about this book on NPR. Serendipitously the author was visiting Pasadena (where he is from) when I was on an extended trip there. I was fortunate to be able to attend his rea
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BAM The Bibliomaniac
Ebershoff weaves a tale of the past and present polygamist Mormon church in this stunning work of historical fiction. The past is represented by the accounts of Ann Eliza Young, wife of Brigham Young who sued for the end of the practice and left the church. The present is a convoluted story of homicide by the 19th wife of her insatiable husband. Her son, Jordan, decides to instigate his own investigation into the murder and into the compound where he spent the first fourteen years of his life.
I
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Vanessa Druckman
Sep 13, 2008 Vanessa Druckman rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Vanessa by: People Magazine
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Angie
May 16, 2011 Angie rated it it was ok
Whew. That was quite a read. I really don't know how to even discuss this book but this will probably be my longest review yet. I'll be discussing it with my Book Club in June and I honestly don't even know where to start with it when we delve into discussions. Here are a few of my scattered thoughts about this book:

1- Despite the fact that it's historical FICTION many parts of the book are written as "documents" which gives it's authenticity a very convincing feel. It made me want to verify and
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Jonathan Peto
Aug 06, 2010 Jonathan Peto rated it really liked it
Shelves: novels
Good book.

I've noticed a few reviews that have panned the novel for religious reasons or because of differences over the intersection between fiction and nonfiction, but neither issue affected me. The foul language and the gay relationships in one of the plot lines didn't distract me either. I was surprised to read complaints. The language suits the characters. The focal character's sexual orientation was just an aspect of his character and was not something the author emphasized. I thought it w
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Chase
Sep 04, 2008 Chase rated it liked it
A fascinating book at times and at other times I had to force myself to read it. One story is set in the mid-late 19th century as historical fiction while another, a murder mystery, is a contemporary tale. The two stories have parallel themes of course and even slightly overlap.

My main grief was in the long-winded style of the 19th century characters, but I had other problems with this part of the book. Several "authors" were used to tell this antiquated story, a device I found distracting. I kn
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Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh
We’ve got the same story playing out right here in Bountiful, BC Canada. I’ve read a few books on polygamy, I like that this one focuses on how nasty it is for boys as well as women. Although I usually find it annoying I also enjoyed how the author jumped between past & present telling 2 stories at once. Ann Young’s struggle to end polygamy in the late 1800’s became fresh & relevant, while the telling of polygamy’s impact on a gay young man in present times was really poignant. Some good ...more
Sharlene
Apr 03, 2009 Sharlene rated it did not like it
I was thoroughly put off by the gay characterizations/sex/language in the contemporary story. I felt it was crude and disrespectful to weave that plot along with descriptions of religious rites and rituals that are sacred to some. I also felt it was misleading to weave in seemingly real letters and references to "sealed" "archived" documents that might lead the reader to believe they are in fact the real deal when they are not. It is fiction--based on fact, I will give you that--but, still ficti ...more
Erin
Jan 22, 2017 Erin rated it liked it
The 19th Wife shocked me, but not because of its content. As a person who has, in the past, sped through a 1000 + book on a weekend, this 500 pager staggered for me. I never felt completely immersed into the world in which David Ebershoff is trying to bring me into. A dual narrative that "volleys" back and forth between the 19th and 21st centuries, The 19th Wife focuses on the polygamous lifestyle of the Mormon church.

I am giving this book a three star rating because what I found fascinating
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Jane
Where I got the book: at a book club swap. Part of my 2014 challenge to read some books I already own.

The 19th Wife is a dual-narrative novel with interruptions. One of the main narratives proceeds from the viewpoint of Eliza Ann Young, who was the nineteenth or twenty-seventh or possibly fifty-second wife of Mormon leader Brigham Young. What is fact is that Eliza Ann divorced Brigham Young in 1873, that she wrote a book about her life among the polygamous Mormons entitled Wife No. 19, and that
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Eastofoz
Jun 05, 2009 Eastofoz rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Readers who like a mix of fact and fiction and don't mind primarily prose style writing
Recommended to Eastofoz by: Won on GR
Shelves: fiction, 1st-person
Hard book to rate. In terms of thought provoking issues, learning quite a few things that I didn’t know before about some interesting American historical figures and sparking a lot questions and discussions, the book is a 4. When it comes to reading pleasure though it’s a 2 because it’s written in an extremely dense prose that sometimes has too many perspectives and makes the story a bit confusing to follow. Publishers Weekly compares the novel to Dan Brown's The DaVinci Code in terms of enterta ...more
Marci
Jan 08, 2009 Marci rated it really liked it
This book is a novel (based on historical people and events) that intersects the stories of two people in different times growing up in a polygamous home. The first is the story of Ann Eliza Webb Young (a real historical figure), who was Brigham Young's 19th wife (technically his 19th, depending on how you count them). The second is the story of Jordan Scott, a young man in present times who is kicked out of his family's polygamous compound (think Colorado City and Warren Jeffs), then is drawn b ...more
Rtb
Oct 10, 2008 Rtb rated it liked it
Intertwining stories of Brigham Young's actual wife, Ann Eliza Young, who was instrumental in getting the Mormon church to renounce polygamy, and Jordan Scott, a fictional contemporary teen boy who returns to the polygamist sect he was thrown out of years ago when his mother is accused of killing her husband.

This is not young adult fiction but to me, since I've recently read a few young adult books and they seem to be getting more ambitious and since Jordan's first person narrative is sooooo t
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Meg
Jun 26, 2010 Meg rated it it was amazing
This book was fascinating. It tells two different stories at the same time. The story of Ana Eliza Dee Young, the 19th wife of Brigham Young and a modern day mystery regarding the death of a husband by his 19th wife. The story is interesting and told in two different perspectives.

Some have complained that it was confusing, I thought it was EASY to follow along and figure out who's voice was speaking---either from chapter title or topic of concern.

Others complained because one of the characters
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Heidi Babcock
One of the best books I've read in a long time. I also enjoyed "Pasadena" which was written some time ago but Ebershoff's talents have expanded since then.
This is a combination history of/multiple story line about the Mormon church and the split between the regular church and the minority within the church which became the "Saints" who wholly believe in the right/commandment of polygamy, otherwise known as "celestial marriage". It is a fascinating read that could have kept going as far as I'm co
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Chrissie
Jan 10, 2010 Chrissie rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Chrissie by: European Royalty Group discussion
What can I say?

I really hated the ending. Was it an OK book? No, it really wasn’t, but I did learn some stuff about the Latter Day Saints, or the Mormons as they are also called, and also their split with the Firsts. Here is what bothered me:

I disliked the mixing of a modern mystery paralleled with an exposition of facts about the history of the Mormon Church. Therein lies a discussion of the destructive role of polygamy, a too sweet story about a contemporary gay relationship and the resolution
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Trena
Aug 13, 2009 Trena rated it really liked it
This was an engrossing read. It interweaves the stories of two 19th wives--the first in the early years of the Mormon church, married to leader Brigham Young, and the second a member of one of the modern day splinter sects that practice polygamy.

I was raised Mormon and the orthodox history included comports with my memory; although it is common for people who leave to do so, I didn't research the non-orthodox versions of Mormon history after leaving the religion but based on random things I've r
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Susan
Nov 02, 2008 Susan rated it it was amazing
I never would have thought I'd be interested in a book on the Mormons and plural marriage, even though I do enjoy Big Love. But this book was highly recommended to me by a librarian whose opinion I respect; she's the one who convinced me to give Diana Gabaldon a try.
It's a great story, really two, one historical, about a gutsy and smart woman who was Brigham Young's 19th wife and the other story contemporary, about a young man who has returned to the compound of the Firsts where he was raised wh
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Diane Chamberlain
Sep 25, 2008 Diane Chamberlain rated it it was amazing
I LOVED this book! I'd give it more than five stars if I could. It's long and dense and so worth it. In part contemporary fiction and part historical "faction", the multi-leveled story looks back at the history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and one of its cultish offsprings called "The Firsts." I listened to it on audio, and the four readers were phenomenal. It's always difficult to know how different a book would be if you're reading it vs listening to it, so I can only spe ...more
debra
Mar 15, 2016 debra rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I just came across Candace's excellent review of this title, and so I'm adding this note. This is not a new review - just a referral review. ( A service I provide for free for the legions of my followers-obviously- only kidding)
Carol
A very interesting work of fiction about the unbelievable life of Ann Eliza Young in 1875 Utah and her struggle to end Mormon polygamy in America.. Reads like a memoir with a murder mystery.
Lissa
Mar 24, 2011 Lissa rated it it was ok
When I closed this book, I put it down and thought, "That author just tried to do way too much."

Then I rubbed my forehead because I had a headache.

A lot of this novel is grueling, in part because Ebershoff switches back from modern day to the nineteenth century, only he's not just switching back between two characters. While the modern day story line concerning polygamists near St. George is narrated by a "lost boy" named Jordan, the rest of the novel is told through varying viewpoints of early
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Goodreads Librari...: Edition language 2 195 May 04, 2017 02:06PM  
Which parts of the story are facts? Which are fiction? 2 10 Feb 22, 2017 07:04PM  
Play Book Tag: The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff- 3.5 Stars 1 11 Oct 25, 2016 03:19PM  
Novi Public Library: July 23rd skype author event 1 3 Jul 12, 2016 11:50AM  
Around the World ...: Discussion for The 19th Wife 4 98 Nov 14, 2014 07:45PM  
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David Ebershoff is the author of four books, including The Danish Girl and the #1 bestseller The 19th Wife. The Danish Girl has been adapted as a major motion picture starring Academy Award-winner Eddie Redmayne and directed by Academy Award-winning director of The King’s Speech, Tom Hooper. The 19th Wife was made into a television movie that has aired around the globe. Ebershoff's books have been ...more
More about David Ebershoff...

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“Last year when my grandma fell and broke her hip she couldn't paint her toenails anymore. So my grandpa started doing it for her, even after he fell and broke his hip, too. For me, that's love.” 25 likes
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