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The 19th Wife

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The 19th Wife Cover

ISBN13: 9780812974157
ISBN10: 0812974158
Condition: Standard
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Reading Group Guide

1. The first part of the novel, “Two Wives,” contains prefaces to two very different books. What did you think when you started reading The 19th Wife? Which story interested you the most?

 2. Ann Eliza Young says, “Faith is a mystery.” How does Ebershoff play with this metaphor? What are the mysteries in The 19th Wife? What does the novel say about faith? 

3. What are your impressions of Ann Eliza Young, and how do those impressions change over the course of the novel? Do you trust her as a narrator? 

4. Brigham Young was one of the most dynamic and complex figures in nineteenth-century America. How does the novel portray him? Do you come to understand his deep convictions? In the story of his marriage to Ann Eliza, he essentially gets the last word. Why? 

5. What kind of man is Chauncey Webb? And Gilbert? What do they tell you about polygamy? And about faith? 

6. Jordan is an unlikely detective. What makes him a good sleuth? What are his blind spots? 

7. Many of the people who help Jordan-Mr. Heber, Maureen, Kelly, and Tom-are Mormons. What do you think Ebershoff is saying by this? 

8. Like many mysteries, Jordans story is a quest. What is he searching for? 

9. Why do you think Ebershoff wrote the novel with so many voices? How do the voices play off one another? Who is your favorite narrator? And your least favorite? 

10. Why do you think Ebershoff wrote a fictional memoir by Ann Eliza Young, and why are some chapters missing? As he says in his Authors Note, the real Ann Eliza Young actually wrote two memoirs: Wife No. 19, first published in 1875, and Life in Mormon Bondage, which came out in 1908. Based on your reading of The 19th Wife, what kind of memoirist do you think the real Ann Eliza Young was? 

11. One reviewer has said The 19th Wife is “that rare book that effortlessly explicates and entertains all at once.” Do you agree? How does the novel manage this balance? 

12. Were you surprised by how the stories of Ann Eliza and Jordan come together? At what point were you able to see the connection? 

13. Does Jordans story end as you hoped it would? Does it end as Jordan hoped it would? 

14. What do you think ultimately happened to Ann Eliza Young? 

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 8 comments:

Nieyda, January 4, 2013 (view all comments by Nieyda)
Overall, it really was a great book, especially the Ann Eliza Young story, which was very compelling. I haven't heard much about her before, but it really made me want to read more about her and her story as the first woman to actually leave a marriage to Brigham Young and speak publicly against the practice of polygamy, based on first-hand experience. Jordan's story is also very interesting and is very timely with the YFZ Ranch raid just this year and the prosecution of Warren Jeffs. I would recommend this book to anyone, I liked it a lot.
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Jessica Beerbaum, January 1, 2013 (view all comments by Jessica Beerbaum)
Ebershoff skillfully weaves a modern murder mystery, in which a young man confronts his difficult past, with the history of the Morman church and a courageous woman who breaks away from the heart of the early church. One of these stories would be gripping enough. Both together make a fascinating read.
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Jessica Beerbaum, January 1, 2013 (view all comments by Jessica Beerbaum)
Ebershoff skillfully weaves a modern murder mystery, in which a young man confronts his difficult past, with the history of the Morman church and a courageous woman who breaks away from the heart of the early church. One of these stories would be gripping enough. Both together make a fascinating read.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780812974157
Author:
Ebershoff, David
Publisher:
Random House Trade
Subject:
General
Subject:
Mystery fiction
Subject:
Historical fiction
Subject:
General Fiction
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Subject:
Literary
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
20090631
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
544
Dimensions:
8.01x5.20x1.19 in. .90 lbs.

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The 19th Wife Used Trade Paper
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$9.95 In Stock
Product details 544 pages Random House Trade - English 9780812974157 Reviews:
"Review" by , “This exquisite tour de force explores the dark roots of polygamy and its modern-day fruit in a renegade cult...Ebershoff (The Danish Girl) brilliantly blends a haunting fictional narrative by Ann Eliza Young, the real-life 19th “rebel” wife of Mormon leader Brigham Young, with the equally compelling contemporary narrative of fictional Jordan Scott, a 20-year-old gay man....With the topic of plural marriage and its shattering impact on women and powerless children in today's headlines, this novel is essential reading for anyone seeking understanding of the subject.”
"Review" by , "Engrossing...remarkable...a book packed with historical illumination, unforgettable characters and the deepest questions about the tenacity of belief....The greatest triumph is the way [The 19th Wife] illuminates the larger landscape of faith."
"Review" by , "Part history class, part expose, part love story, The 19th Wife is thoroughly addictive....[David] Ebershoff not only imparts a valuable lesson on religion, but spins a compelling tale that makes readers question the power of faith and what we believe and why."
"Review" by , "Rarely has a work of fiction seemed more timely....A page-turning epic...[a] tour de force."
"Synopsis" by , This work from the author of The Danish Girl and Pasadena is a spellbinding work of literary suspense, set against the history of the Mormon Church, that combines historical fiction with a modern-day mystery.
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