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The 19th Wife

3.64  ·  Rating details ·  55,607 ratings  ·  6,471 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,

Hardcover, 514 pages
Published August 5th 2008 by Random House
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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 cit…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)
Akezhan Imangaliyev Yes, it is. Basically, it was created on the basis of this book, though some book characters are missing from the movie.

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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
Elyse  Walters
Apr 01, 2009 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
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
Nov 22, 2008 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
Oct 22, 2008 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
Jun 05, 2008 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
Sep 09, 2008 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
Mar 13, 2009 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.

The book club was very excited to ask difficult questions in a setting that was not offensive. I foun
3.5 stars.

I enjoy reading about other religions and learning what makes them unique. I have some Mormon relatives, and that religion has always seemed mysterious to me, with only the most devout being allowed to enter the temple and wonderings about who might after all be a secret polygamist. That last part isn't anything I suspect my cousins of, but it fascinates me nevertheless.

In The 19th Wife the author has done his research on a wife of Brigham Young's, his 19th, who became somewhat famous
Aug 17, 2008 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
May 16, 2011 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
Jonathan Peto
Aug 06, 2010 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
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.
Vanessa Druckman
Sep 13, 2008 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.
Mariah Roze
Mar 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book was fantastic. It was super long, but I learned a lot about polygamy. I highly suggest this book to everyone!

"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, prophet and leader of the Mormon Church. Expelled and an outcast, Ann Eliza embarks o
Sep 04, 2008 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
Apr 03, 2009 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
Jan 22, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: kobo
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
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 lines i ...more
Apr 18, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle
"Even so, history has one flaw. It is a subjective art, no less than poetry or music. The true historian has two sources: the written record and the witness's testimony."

In The 19th Wife, David Ebershoff plays the role of historian, re-creating and unpacking the mysteries of Ann Eliza Young's tumultuous life as a sister wife to Brigham Young. Interwoven with this narrative is the story of an excommunicated young gay man, Jordan Scott, from a compound in Utah whose mother, coincidentally also
Jan 08, 2009 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
Apr 02, 2016 added it
Loved the 19th Century Brigham Young/Ann Eliza part (3 1/2-4 stars), the modern part I could have done without (2 stars).
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
Jan 10, 2010 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
Linda Hart
Apr 08, 2010 rated it did not like it
FICTION! absolutely. It poses as documented historical fiction with its footnotes and lengthy "bibliography." The 2 main plots are loosely (very) based on 19th century and 21st century characters & scenes. The letters, LDS sacred archival documents, diaries, & sermons are ALL fictional, are misleading & untruthful at best. At the end of the book the author states that it is "a work of fiction," which was "inspired" by his research and interviews. Too bad he doesn't state that at the beginning.

Jun 26, 2010 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
Oct 10, 2008 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
Diane Chamberlain
Sep 25, 2008 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
Caroline Ellis-Ballinger
Jul 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was fascinating!! I loved learning about the early pioneer days in America from a woman’s perspective and then the second storyline of a modern day polygamist wife was well written too. Really good historical fiction with expert research and complex female characters that I loved. At over 600 pages my only complaint was the ending (last 200pages) felt long winded. Highly recommend tho.
Jun 05, 2009 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
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Goodreads Librari...: Edition language 2 197 May 04, 2017 10:06PM  
Which parts of the story are facts? Which are fiction? 2 21 Feb 23, 2017 03:04AM  
Play Book Tag: The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff- 3.5 Stars 1 13 Oct 25, 2016 11:19PM  
Novi Public Library: July 23rd skype author event 1 5 Jul 12, 2016 07:50PM  
Around the World ...: Discussion for The 19th Wife 4 109 Nov 15, 2014 03:45AM  

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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

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