Faith, I tell them, is a mystery, elusive to many, and never easy to explain

The 19th Wife is a story told in two parts, It tells the story of Ann Eliza Young the 19th wife of the Mormon Prophet Brigham Young who broke away from the Mormon church and denounced plural marriage and a modern day story about a murder in a polygamist compound inUtah.

The Way David Ebershoff weaves the two stories together is nothing short of brilliant and this book is packed full of historical stories that I had never heard before.  The history of how the Mormon church came to be and the hardships suffered by the followers of Brigham Young is shocking and awe inspiring at the same time.

This is a book that will take everything you thought you knew and turn it upside down. The history of the Mormon church is rich and diverse and utterly fascinating.

Then you have the Modern story of Jordan who has been cast out of the Modern day Fundamentalist church of Latter Day Saints (not to be confused with the Jesus Christ church of Latter day Saints which is entirely different although founded by the same people) This story tells the absolutely horrendous story of “Lost boys” Boys who are cast out of the church so that Mormon men can have more wives.

These Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints actually excommunicate their own sons to make the ratio better for the senior men of the church to take more young wives. This is just unbelievable and yet is rooted deeply in fact. This part of the story really stayed with me, I just felt compelled to know more. David Ebershoff is absolutely brilliant in his ability to make you empathise with his characters.

The modern story of Jordan and his family is fiction it gives you the feeling it could be the true story of any young man coming from a Mormon family. The mix of historical fact and fictional story telling is completely compelling. This is without doubt one of the best books I have read in a long time, I highly recommend it!


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I should add this came from a longing in me to know more about this faith and its practices, I am fascinated to understand the inner workings of a faith that is so strong it can push its followers to such extremes. I have since gone on to reserach this further and read more books on this topic as I find it fascinating.


Here is the link to David Ebershoff’s webpage for The 19th Wife, it has a lot of great extra info !