05 September 2009

The 19th Wife; David Ebershoff

The 19th Wife: A Novel The 19th Wife: A Novel by David Ebershoff
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

While reading Latter-Day Cipher I kept wondering about the Mysteries that the murderer was exposing - how accurate was the description? did they mean what the author said they did? what do Mormons really believe about this stuff (like the garments and celestial marriage)?

This book isn't going to answer those questions completely. Part historical fiction, and part modern mystery, the Endowments and garments and marriage are discussed, but not in as much detail as I would have liked. For example, the garments are described as a one-piece thing, so the instruction to "keep half on while putting on the other half" just doesn't make any sense. Still, it's a good glimpse into an emerging Church and its doctrines. Well, ok, only one doctrine, that of polygamy.

The juxtaposition of the life of the Firsts with how the doctrine came into being and was lived by the early Mormons was interesting. Having the "lead investigator" be a gay man seemed gratuitous, though. The Danites were never fully explained, and the Meadow Mountain Massacre was a passing mention. Those, and a few other "wait - I want more" pieces made this a 4, not a 5, for me.

Now I guess I have to read Under the Banner of Heaven!

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