The 19th Wife
By David Ebershoff
Random House, 2008. 514 pgs. Mystery
The 19th Wife tells two stories. One of Ann Eliza Young, the notorious 19th wife of Brigham Young. The other of Beckylyn, a present day 19th wife and member of the fundamentalist First Latter-Day Saints in Mesa, Arizona. Eliza narrates her own story telling of her conversion to the Latter-Day Saint religion, eventual marriage and then divorce from the LDS prophet, and passionate campaign against polygamy. Beckylyn’s story is told by her son when he returns home to help his mother who is being charged with the murder of her husband.
Neither of these stories are easy to tell, or easy to read. Both narrators are scornful and angry about their lives and the role polygamy has played in their unhappiness. The tone is also somewhat hostile toward the LDS religion, so readers should be prepared for that.