Sunday, September 26, 2010

Mini Review: The 19th Wife

My neighborhood book group read The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff for our 100th book and met at a restaurant last week to celebrate and discuss it. This is one of those books I never would have read if it wasn't for my book group, but I'm glad I did.

This novel is really two interwoven stories: the story of Brigham Young's so-called 19th wife who divorced him in the late 1800's and helped to outlaw polygamy and a modern murder mystery set in an isolated religious compound where polygamy is still practiced today.

The novel goes back and forth between the two stories and relies heavily on historical fact. In fact, about a quarter of the way through, I skipped ahead to the Afterword to read about how much of it was fact and how much was fiction. The historical context is fascinating (much more so than I expected) and the modern mystery is filled with unexpected twists. After I described the book to my husband, he started reading it himself!

This must be a hot topic because on the Today show last week, I saw an interview with a modern-day polygamist and his four wives who are starring in a new reality series on TLC, Sister Wives.


  1. I've been meaning to read this one as well. Did you see there was a movie by that title advertised last week? Think it was on Lifetime channel, but never got to see it.

  2. Yes, I heard about the TV movie, but I hadn't finished the book yet and didn't want to ruin the ending for myself! Several of the women in my book group saw it, though - they said it was pretty good though some parts were quite different than the book.

    You should definitely read the book - I liked it much more than I expected to!


  3. I read this book a while ago and remember feeling the same way you did - what is fact and what is fiction. For some reason, I am intrigued by the idea of polygamy and for awhile I watched the HBO Series Big Love. Fascinating. I, too, saw the family on the today show and I watched the series premiere of their show - Sister Wives. Again, fascinating. And not at all like the "compound" type polygamists that make the news.

  4. Pam -

    Did you her on the news yesterday that the family featured on that new show Sister Wives is now being investigated for polygamy by the federal government? I guess that answered the question my husband and I had - how can they be on this reality show - isn't it against the law?? Yup.

    It will be interesting to see what comes of this -