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The 19th Wife

Cover of The 19th Wife

The 19th Wife

A Novel
This new deluxe eBook edition features more than sixty-five additional pages of exclusive, author-approved annotations throughout the text, which contain new illustrations and photographs, to enrich your reading experience. You can access the eBook annotations with a simple click or tap on your eReader via the convenient links. Access them as you read the novel or as supplemental material after finishing the entire story. There is also Random House Reader's Circle bonus content, which is sure to inspire discussion at book clubs everywhere.

"A literary tour de force . . . [David] Ebershoff intertwines a modern-day murder mystery with a sweeping historical saga."—People (4 out of 4 stars)

It is 1875, and Ann Eliza Young has recently separated from her powerful husband, Brigham Young, prophet and leader of the Mormon Church. Expelled and an outcast, Ann Eliza embarks on a crusade to end polygamy in the United States. A rich account of her family's polygamous history is revealed, including how both she and her mother became plural wives. Yet soon after Ann Eliza's story begins, a second exquisite narrative unfolds—a tale of murder involving a polygamist family in present-day Utah. Jordan Scott, a young man who was thrown out of his fundamentalist sect years earlier, must reenter the world that cast him aside in order to discover the truth behind his father's death. As Ann Eliza's narrative intertwines with that of Jordan's search, readers are pulled deeper into the mysteries of love, family, and faith.

"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 landscapes of faith."—The Washington Post Book World

"Wonderfully lyrical . . . The 19th Wife is a big book, in every sense of the word. It sweeps across time and delves deeply into a world long hidden from sight . . . and in the process it does that thing all good novels do: It entertains us."—Los Angeles Times

"Rarely has a work of fiction seemed more timely. . . . A page-turning epic . . . [a] tour de force."—Vogue

"Wonderful . . . as chilling as it is entertaining."—New York Daily News

"Part history class, part exposé, part love story, The 19th Wife is thoroughly addictive. . . . 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."—USA Today

"Ambitious . . . fascinating . . . Ebershoff demonstrates abundant virtuosity, as he convincingly inhabits the voices of both a nineteenth-century Mormon wife and a contemporary gay youth excommunicated from the church, while also managing to say something about the mysterious power of faith."—The New Yorker
This new deluxe eBook edition features more than sixty-five additional pages of exclusive, author-approved annotations throughout the text, which contain new illustrations and photographs, to enrich your reading experience. You can access the eBook annotations with a simple click or tap on your eReader via the convenient links. Access them as you read the novel or as supplemental material after finishing the entire story. There is also Random House Reader's Circle bonus content, which is sure to inspire discussion at book clubs everywhere.

"A literary tour de force . . . [David] Ebershoff intertwines a modern-day murder mystery with a sweeping historical saga."—People (4 out of 4 stars)

It is 1875, and Ann Eliza Young has recently separated from her powerful husband, Brigham Young, prophet and leader of the Mormon Church. Expelled and an outcast, Ann Eliza embarks on a crusade to end polygamy in the United States. A rich account of her family's polygamous history is revealed, including how both she and her mother became plural wives. Yet soon after Ann Eliza's story begins, a second exquisite narrative unfolds—a tale of murder involving a polygamist family in present-day Utah. Jordan Scott, a young man who was thrown out of his fundamentalist sect years earlier, must reenter the world that cast him aside in order to discover the truth behind his father's death. As Ann Eliza's narrative intertwines with that of Jordan's search, readers are pulled deeper into the mysteries of love, family, and faith.

"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 landscapes of faith."—The Washington Post Book World

"Wonderfully lyrical . . . The 19th Wife is a big book, in every sense of the word. It sweeps across time and delves deeply into a world long hidden from sight . . . and in the process it does that thing all good novels do: It entertains us."—Los Angeles Times

"Rarely has a work of fiction seemed more timely. . . . A page-turning epic . . . [a] tour de force."—Vogue

"Wonderful . . . as chilling as it is entertaining."—New York Daily News

"Part history class, part exposé, part love story, The 19th Wife is thoroughly addictive. . . . 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."—USA Today

"Ambitious . . . fascinating . . . Ebershoff demonstrates abundant virtuosity, as he convincingly inhabits the voices of both a nineteenth-century Mormon wife and a contemporary gay youth excommunicated from the church, while also managing to say something about the mysterious power of faith."—The New Yorker
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  • From the book

    ITWO WIVES


    The 19th Wife

    Preface to the First Edition


    In the one year since I renounced my Mormon faith, and set out to tell the nation the truth about American polygamy, many people have wondered why I ever agreed to become a plural wife. Everyone I meet, whether farmer, miner, railman, professor, cleric, or the long-faced Senator, and most especially the wives of these-everyone wants to know why I would submit to a marital practice so filled with subjugation and sorrow. When I tell them my father has five wives, and I was raised to believe plural marriage is the will of God, these sincere people often ask, But Mrs. Young-how could you believe such a claim?

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

    Now, with the publication of this autobiography, my enemies will no doubt suspect my motives. Having survived attempts on both my life and character, however, I stand unconcerned by their assaults. I have chosen to commit my memories to the page neither for fame, the trough from which I have drunk and would be happy never to return to, nor fortune, although it is true I am without home and have two small boys to care for. Simply, I wish to expose the tragic state of polygamy's women, who must live in a bondage not seen in this country since the abolishment of slavery a decade ago; and to reveal the lamentable situation of its children, lonely as they are.

    I promise my Dear Reader I shall recount my story truthfully, even when it distresses me to do so. In these pages you will come to know my mother, who by religious duty welcomed four wives into her husband's bed. You will encounter the old woman forced to share her husband with a girl one-fifth her age. And you shall meet the gentleman with so many wives that when one approaches him on the street, he answers, "Madame, do I know you?"

    I can, and will, go on.

    Under what circumstances does such outrage thrive? The Territory of Utah, glorious as it may be, spiked by granite peaks and red jasper rocks, cut by echoing canyons and ravines, spread upon a wide basin of gamma grass and wandering streams, this land of blowing snow and sand, of iron, copper, and the great salten sea-Utah, whose scarlet-golden beauty marks the best of God's handiwork-the Territory of Utah stands defiant as a Theocracy within the borders of our beloved Democracy, imperium in imperio.

    I write not for sensation, but for Truth. I leave judgment to the hearts of my good Readers everywhere. I am but one, yet to this day countless others lead lives even more destitute and enslaved than mine ever was. Perhaps my story is the exception because I escaped, at great risk, polygamy's conjugal chains; and that my husband is the Mormon Church's Prophet and Leader, Brigham Young, and I am his 19th, and final, wife.

    Sincerely Yours,
    Ann Eliza Young
    Summer 1874

    Wife #19:
    A Desert Mystery

    By Jordan Scott

    Prologue
    Her Golden Boy

    According to the St. George Register, on a clear night last June, at some time between eleven and half-past, my mom-who isn't anything like this-tiptoed down to the basement of the house I grew up in with a Golden Boy .22 in her hands. At the foot of the stairs she knocked on the door to my dad's den. From inside he called who is it? She answered me, BeckyLyn. He said-or must've said-come in. What happened next? Nearly everyone in southwest Utah can tell you. She nailed an ace shot and blew his heart clean from his chest. The paper says he was in his computer chair, and from the way the blood splattered the...

About the Author-
  • David Ebershoff is the author of the novels The 19th Wife, Pasadena, and The Danish Girl, and a short-story collection, The Rose City. His fiction has won a number of awards, including the Rosenthal Foundation Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Ferro-Grumley Award, and the Lambda Literary Award. His books have been translated into twenty languages to critical acclaim. The 19th Wife was made into a television movie and The Danish Girl is under development as a feature film. Ebershoff teaches in the graduate writing program at Columbia University and is an editor-at-large at Random House. He lives in New York City.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from June 23, 2008
    This exquisite tour de force explores the dark roots of polygamy and its modern-day fruit in a renegade cult not recognized by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (aka the Mormon church). 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 whose mother, another 19th wife, is accused of murdering his polygamist father, a member of the fundamentalist First Latter-day Saints, in Mesadale, Ariz. Excommunicated from the church at 14, Jordan tirelessly works, with help from local sympathizers, to unmask his father's true killer. In an author's note, Ebershoff explains how his character differs from the actual Ann Eliza, who published two autobiographies, the first of which helped put pressure on the Mormon church to renounce polygamy in 1890. 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.

  • "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."--Publishers Weekly, Starred and "Pick of the Week"
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The 19th Wife
A Novel
David Ebershoff
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