A very interesting book, which weaves fact and fiction to great effect. There are two threads to the narrative, and the two stories are linked.
In the present day, Jordan Scott, who was excommunicated from his community of First Latter Day Saints, is returning to Utah for the first time in several years. His mother, with whom he has had no contact since leaving the community, stands accused of murdering his father. The Latter Day Saints still practice polygamy and she was his 19th wife.
Meanwhile, the story of another famous 19th wife – Ann Eliza Young, nineteenth wife of Brigham Young, leader of the Latter Day Saints in the 19th century, escapes from the devout religious community and then fought to bring about an end to polgamy. Brigham and Ann Eliza Young were of course actual people, and while the author states that the book is a work of fiction, he has clearly researched the subject well.
I really enjoyed both parts of the book; the present day story showed clearly the effect of growing up in a polygamous community, as well as being an intriguing mystery. As a narrator, Jordan grew on me (and also grew up a lot), as he used his natural intelligence and resourcefulness to try to save the mother who abandoned him years earlier. His vulnerability really shone through, and it was interesting to see the character develop. I also genuinely had no idea how the story would turn out. The only slight disappointment was that the ending seemed very abrupt.
The historical parts of the story were very interesting, and definitely left me wanting to learn more about Brigham Young, his brave nineteenth wife, and the legacy of their actions and beliefs. Ann Eliza was shown as not perfect (which made the story more credible, but a very strong, courageous and intelligent lady. Brigham himself probably received a fair portrayal – Ann Eliza was scathing about him, but was able to recognise his many achievements.
Overall, I found this a fascinating and absorbing read, and would definitely recommend it.
(Author’s website can be found here.)