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The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff


While The 19th Wife is a work of fiction, it is based on facts, as noted in the authors acknowledgments. Knowing very little about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I found this book fascinating. It starts with the story of Ann Eliza Young, the 19th wife of the Brigham Young, Prophet of the Latter Day Saints. It’s the 1800's, and Ann Eliza’s family history if retraced until eventually we find her in a polygamous marriage. Not happy in this situation, she tolerates it until Brigham refuses to financially support her. Forced to take in Gentile boarders, she sees what life is like elsewhere. She divorces and goes on a speaking tour denouncing the Latter Day Saints and the practice of plural marriage.

Intertwined with this account is the story of a present day 19th wife, a member of the "Firsts," loosely based on The Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints. BeckyLyn is accused of murdering her husband and jailed. Her son Jordan, who has been excommunicated from the church, reads about it in the newspaper and visits her. He is devastated to see her there and quite sure she is innocent, so he tries to find out what really happened. Check catalog for availability.


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