Critics Corner

September 8th, 2008


There are two nineteenth wives in David Ebershoff's new novel. One is the historical Ann Eliza Young, who among Brigham Young's estimated twenty-seven wives caused him the most grief: she sued him for divorce and wrote a best-selling memoir of her humiliations as a plural wife. The other is BeckyLyn, a member of a fictional polygamist sect, the First Latter-Day Saints, who is accused of murdering her husband as he plays online poker and chats with someone called DesertMissy. Ebershoff '91 juxtaposes these two stories, moving back and forth through time. "The 19th Wife is a big book, in every sense of the word," concluded a review in the Los Angeles Times."It offers historical and contemporary perspective on one of the world's fastest-growing religions and one of its oldest practices, and in the process it does that thing all good novels do: it entertains us."

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Related Issue
September/October 2008