Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The 19th Wife - David Ebershoff

A short synopsis from Amazon.com, "This sweeping epic is a compelling and original work set in 1875, when one woman attempts to rid America of polygamy. Ebershoff intertwines his tale with that of a 20th-century murder mystery in Utah, allowing the two stories to twist and turn into a marvelous literary experience."

I found this book really really interesting. After reading 50 pages I realized how little I knew about polygamy - even though it has been in the news a lot in the past few years. I also never knew that The only thing I knew about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints is that they made some pretty good commercials that were on TV when I was younger. I never knew that they were once a polygamous group. It is all really intriguing and I found myself stopping reading the book so I could look info up online to see how much of it was true.

I loved Jordan, the main character in the present day setting. His character was strong and sweet and sad all wrapped in one young boy. To be left on the side of the road by your mother because the Prophet said he was a sinner would leave anyone a bit bitter. But when he sees that she is in jail for murder he returns right away to Mesadale (his hometown) to see her. I also loved that Jordan was gay and that the author included a scene where him and his friend Tom go to a LGBT friendly Mormon church because you can be homosexual and still have religious faith.

I myself am not very religious but I was compelled by the faith that people have, even when it means giving up there own children. It is amazing that there are areas in North America where children are taught vastly different histories than the rest of us. It also makes me horrified (as both a woman and a social worker) that young girls are being forced into marriage (not legally) at a really young age to men that could be their grandfathers. It is sad because many of these girls think that this is their path to heaven and they just have to do it. I strongly believe that everyone should be free to practice their own religions but I think people cannot ignore how some religions oppress women and children.

Everyone should give this book a read. It was informative as well as interesting.

Rating - 4


Haroun said...

It sounds unbelievable to me that the polygamy is practised in certain parts of North America!

centuries ago, the reverse; i.e. one woman taking four to five husbands was practised in some parts of North India. Some tribes still do it, but differently. Like if the elder brother dies, his wife would be coerced to marry his younger brother, who could even be much younger than herself. Well, it takes all kinds!

Elizabeth said...

I found this book to be fascinating as well, although I didn't find as much of a connection to Jordan as you did. Great review!