The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff
Synopsis from publisher:
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, prophet and leader of the Mormon Church. Expelled and an outcast, Ann Eliza embarks on a crusade to end polygamy in the United States. A rich account of a family’s polygamous history is revealed, including how a young woman became a plural wife.
Soon after Ann Eliza’s story begins, a second exquisite narrative unfolds–a tale of murder involving a polygamist family in present-day Utah. Jordan Scott, a young man who was thrown out of his fundamentalist sect years earlier, must reenter the world that cast him aside in order to discover the truth behind his father’s death.
And as Ann Eliza’s narrative intertwines with that of Jordan’s search, readers are pulled deeper into the mysteries of love and faith.
If you like historical fiction, you need to read this book.
David Ebershoff takes two distinct narratives, adds faux-historical documents, letters, and Wikipedia entries, and comes up with a completely engrossing look at the history of polygamy in America. This is a case of a hugely ambitious idea - multiple narrators, different time periods, the blending of history and fiction - that absolutely gets it right. I was grabbed by the first page, and by the end of the 500+ page novel didn't want it to end.
One of my favorite things about the novel is the way Ebershoff allows each person - Mormon, nonbeliever, polygamist, apostate - to tell their story without judgement. Everyone's voice is heard and respected. That doesn't mean, however, that difficult questions are not addressed:
" ' Why do they keep on believing all that crap? Where's the skepticism? Why don't they ask themselves - just once, that's all it would take - why none of it makes sense?'
' If it's the only thing you know ---'
' No, that's not it. I mean, sure, yeah, if it's all you know it's hard to imagine anything else. But I'm talking about something different. I'm talking about why they never once have any suspicion that something's not right. You don't need to know anything to have a doubt. You just need to listen. To yourself. Why are so many people so lousy at listening to themselves?' "
Once again, this is a book that, for me, completely lived up to its hype. If you haven't read it, find a copy! It's a fascinating look at a lifestyle so many of us can't even begin to comprehend.
Source: my shelves
Don't just take my word for it! Stop by the other hosts of this blog tour, sponsored by TLC Book Tours:
Monday, May 18: Hey, Lady! Whatcha Readin’?
Wednesday, May 20th: A Guy’s Moleskin Notebook
Tuesday, May 21st: Becky’s Book Reviews
Tuesday, May 26th: Book Nut
Tuesday, June 2nd: Biblioaddict
Thursday, June 4th: A Life in Books
Friday, June 5th: Bookgirl’s Nightstand
Monday, June 8th: Live and Let Di
Tuesday, June 9th: Ramya’s Bookshelf
Wednesday, June 10th: As Usual, I Need More Bookshelves
Thursday, June 11th: A Novel Menagerie
Monday, June 15th: The 3 R’s: Reading, ‘Riting, and Randomness
Tuesday, June 16th: The Book Faery Reviews
Wednesday, June 17th: Shelf Life
Friday, June 19th: In the Shadow of Mt. TBR