Faith, I tell them, is a mystery, elusive to many, and never easy to explain.
Sweeping and lyrical, spellbinding and unforgettable, David Ebershoffs The 19th Wife combines epic historical fiction with a modern murder mystery to create a brilliant novel of literary suspense.
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 a familys polygamous history is revealed, including how a young woman became a plural wife.
Soon after Ann Elizas story begins, a second exquisite narrative unfoldsa 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 fathers death.
And as Ann Elizas narrative intertwines with that of Jordans search, readers are pulled deeper into the mysteries of love and faith.
New York Times - Janet Maslin
There is a man who explains how he managed to have three wedding nights in three weeks. There are women casting light on what justified and reinforced their faith in all-powerful male prophets. But this creates an exhausting cacophony. Mr. Ebershoff clearly had the doggedness to invent many voices. What he didn’t have — or want, given the book’s deliberate epistolary nature — was a whole greater than the sum of its parts.
San Francisco Chronicle - Dan Cryer
The attack on polygamy by a Mormon apostate, Ann Eliza, is instrumental, when the church finally renounces it in 1890, in preserving it from the nation's wrath. The novel's gay men are straight arrows, committed to responsible relationships, while its heterosexual men are savage creatures of lust. Religion and sex paired, it seems, equals passion squared.
The Seattle Times - Richard Wallace
Regrettably, Jordon's contemporary story offers little of the spiritual complexity of Ann Eliza's saga. As a mystery it is totally without suspense, and the characters, other than Jordon (who has a healthy sense of the absurd), are not well-developed or compelling. Sometimes, one good story is all you need.
The Washington Post.
The greatest triumph is the way all this material, though it's focused on the peculiarities of Mormonism -- devout and heretical, ancient and modern -- illuminates the larger landscape of faith.
Reminiscent of Wallace Stegner's Angle of Repose in scope and ambition, though the narrative sometimes drags.
[E]ssential reading for anyone seeking understanding of the subject.
Amity & Sorrow is a story about God, sex, and farming. It's an unforgettable journey into the horrors a true believer can inflict upon his family, and what it is like to live when the end of the world doesn't come.
Matt's ex-girlfriend is caught up in a cult. Trapped in the murky uncertainty of good and evil where even his own feelings are suspect, Matt must race to find her, and to uncover the true nature and power of the Empire of Light.
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