Friday, September 18, 2009

Cannonball Read - Book 64

My guess is, a lot of you haven't read The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff, so here's the book jacket synopsis:

"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."

Have you ever read Carrie by Stephen King? You know how it pulls from "sources" like courtroom transcripts, letters, academic journals and first-person accounts? The 19th Wife is just like that. It uses different types of writing (letters, academic papers, some IM messages, a Wikipedia entry, along with the narrator's voice) to tell the story. But the big difference between Carrie and The 19th Wife is this:

Carrie is good.

Seriously, The 19th Wife is just not good. It's not written well, partly because of all those literary devices, but mainly because it's just not a good story. It's a morality tale disguised as a murder mystery... but I didn't really care whodunit. And Jordan, the protagonist, isn't really that sympathetic a character. He's gay, which is fine, but he's got this faggy best friend. I mean, really. Why does every "normal" gay man need a faggy best friend who calls everybody Sweetie and Miss Thing? And he's got a dog, too. Now come on. The unconditional love from the dog who rides along in the van (a van, too!) bit is kind of stale. The sections written by Ann Eliza, Brigham's wife, are better - actual historical fiction that feels real. Which, I suppose, is the point of historical fiction. But the tie-in between the historical segments and the current, murder-driven segments never really came together, and overall, the badness outweighed the sort-of goodness.

I could go on - but why? Read Under the Banner of Heaven instead.

The 19th Wife - C-


Viejo Fuerte said...

Looks like you might make it to
100. Can I send one or two books up to you? Staxgirl has been after me to read "Under the Banner of Heaven" so that I will tackle it next. Love ya.

amanda said...

You can send books, but you should probably check and see if I've read them alreay.