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The 19th Wife

by David Ebershoff

This is the kind of story that chews you up and spits you out at the end, older and wiser. It’s presented as part biography, part academic paper and part contemporary murder story. You will learn more than you ever wanted to know about the history of the Mormon Church and its modern adherents. It’s riveting.

Extract

Emboldened by my new friends, sometime in June 1873 I went to see Brigham. I had to wait in line outside the Beehive House along with all the other curious visitors, the men conducting business with the church, and the hundreds of pilgrims. I considered running up and down the line and telling the faithful the truth about my husband. What would the pilgrims think if they knew how Brigham’s wives lived behind this very wall they leaned against now? Would they crave to rub the hem of his coat, or take home a sheet of paper from his wastebasket as a relic, if they understood the truth? ...

When I got to the sandwich shop, 5 was closing up, her hair under a plastic beret. "Why didn’t you tell me you married my dad?"
She went behind the counter for a cup of coffee. She took her time, pouring the cream and the sugar, stirring it, rinsing the spoon. Her eyes had a cold gleam, like chips of soda-machine ice. 'Why would I want to tell you about the worst day of my life?'

Parallels

The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
The Righteous Men by Sam Bourne
 

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