The 19th wife weaves together the stories of past and present polygamy. In 1875, Ann Eliza Young launches a speaking tour in an attempt to end plural marriage in the Mormon Church. As the expelled 19th wife of the church’s prophet, Ann Eliza’s scandalous story brings much unwelcome notoriety to the church leadership. Meanwhile in present day Utah, Jordan Scott is a young man from a fundamentalist Mormon sect who learns his mother is in jail accused of murdering his father. The main evidence is a text sent moments before his father’s shooting, which says his 19th wife has just entered the room. Jordan must work with the community he was cast out of to try and clear his mother’s name.
What the Armchair Critics Thought:
The pace of the novel was slow and the content sometimes a little dry; but the subject matter was fascinating. We were infuriated to hear about the neglect and abuse that the women experienced. We talked about the nature of belief and parallels between the Mormon Church and other religious brainwashing. The two narratives were both dramatic, but the pace was uneven due to the use of the historical language and ‘documents’ in Anne Eliza’s story. We were happy that Jordan seemed to be on his way to creating a new family unit by the end of the book.