Today I'll be finishing The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff in anticipation of his visit to my blog on Friday October 17th. It's a wonderful novel that alternates between the 19th century beginnings of the Latter Day Saints and a present day murder mystery on a polygamous compound in Utah. From David's website:
"Faith, I tell them, is a mystery, elusive to many, and never easy to explain." Sweeping and lyrical, spellbinding and unforgettable, David Ebershoff’s 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 family’s polygamous history is revealed, including how a young woman became a plural wife. 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. And as Ann Eliza’s narrative intertwines with that of Jordan’s search, readers are pulled deeper into the mysteries of love and faith.The section in the novel about Europeans converting to Mormonism, immigrating to the States and traveling in wagon trains to Utah was of particular interest to me. I have a transcribed history of my great great Aunt Ellen Wasden, born in Rotherham England in 1848. The year before, her family joined the Latter Day Saints and made preparations for their emigration. They lived in Cincinnati for a few years before embarking on the journey to Utah. Ellen's brother Thomas Nephi was born in Winter Quarters, Nebraska, which is featured in the novel - though his birth took place several years after the initial migration from Winter Quarters.
I'll be talking a lot more about this book and about my ancestral connections throughout the week before David's tour visit here on Friday. Be sure to come visit - and if you've read this book, I hope you'll share your thoughts about it during the visit.
Have a delicious Sunday!