This historical fiction called The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff is an excellent book club book. There’s lots of layers for dicussion – polygamy, parenting, religion, and murder. It’s all there.
The storyline bounces back and forth between modern-day, where BeckyLyn has just been arrested for her husband’s murder – and 1875, where Ann Eliza Young recently separated from her husband Brigham Young.
The book is probably longer than it needs to be and the dense build up of the historical conflict for women in the Mormon faith is a little overdone – we get it – being the 19th wife would come with some complications. But overall the book is very interesting and, as I said, opens up a lot room for book club talk.
There are some surprises in the book also – a big plus for me.
My book club is made up of women so our discussion focused a lot on trying to understand how women can tolerate being one of so many wives. We didn’t really understand how it makes sense – although we did get perpetuating the “way it’s always been”.
At one point, one of our members asked the group to imagine having 19 husbands. Holy smokes. No thank you.