The 19th Wife


I recently finished a great book, The 19th Wife. It’s fiction but draws much of the story from the real life tale of Bringham Young’s nineteenth wife, Ann  Eliza Young, who actually divorced Bringham Young.

As the title suggests, the book was about the practice of having multiple wives, or polygamy. I found the tale very interesting – as a woman, a wife and as a parent.

I read some information about why the author, David Ebershof, wrote the book. He said in his research of polygamy in the past and present, he felt compelled to tell the tale of what happens to kids who are born into this situation.

Indeed as I read this book, I kept wondering how any man could truly parent hundreds – yes, hundreds – of children. Given the juggling I do as a parent of two kids, I’m pretty skeptical that someone can be attentive to that many kids.

Usually my books get the “boring” vote from my older son because they don’t have any pictures. This book, because it was based in part on Ann Eliza’s life, had a few illustrations (see photo above). My son was thrilled. He looked at one picture and remarked that there were “one, two, three, four, five, six girls” in the picture and “only one man?” Don’t worry, the illustration was just of a man coming home. It surprised me that even at his young age, my son was aware (on some level) of the dynamic in that drawing.

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