Monday, August 01, 2011

19th Wife

I was watching the Warren Jeffs trial on the news this morning when it reminded me of a superb novel I had read a few years ago. Jeffs is the leader of a breakaway sect of the Mormon Church known as the FLDS. You may remember seeing scenes of his ranch being raided by law enforcement, while hoards of women wearing identical styles of long dresses and elaborate coiffure milled about. Children were temporarily placed into protective custody due to possible charges of sexual assault on minors and bigamy. I had just read a fiction book around the time of this occurrence calledThe Nineteenth Wife by David Ebershoff. The Nineteenth Wife is actually two interwoven stories; one is the story of Mormon prophet Brigham Young's nineteenth wife, Ann Eliza, who spent her life revealing the truth about plural marriage in her memoirs and lecture tour. The second story is that of a present-day  nineteenth wife, BeckyLyn, who lives in a cult similar to the FLDS and stands accused of murdering her husband. BeckyLyn’s son Jordan, who was thrown out of the First Latter-day Saints compound as a boy returns to help her, putting his life at risk. Both stories were fascinating. This is one of those books that is difficult to put down.

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