By David Ebershoff

enjoyable to read, capably written, this novel approaches the history and present of multiple marriage within the LDS church.

a fan of historical fiction, i appreciated the extensive research and attention to detail the author afforded his subject matter. while the mormon church enjoys a wealth of documentation due both to its relative youth as an organization and its doctrinal position that keeping records of heredity and history are critical functions of the church, these records are not usually available to “gentiles” and the more controversial the subject matter the more difficult these records become to access. Ebershoff even uses this circumstance as a literary mechanism within the context of this interestingly structured novel.

the book is portioned such that there are really three threads running concurrently throughout. there is the reconstructed memoir of Ann Eliza Young, the notorious 19th wife of Brigham Young, there is the modern-day murder mystery set in the backdrop of the sect of the LDS church which still practices polygamy, and interspersed are vignettes in the form of recreated newspaper articles, personal letters, and archived documents pertaining to one tale or the other.

the stories herein are interesting enough to have kept me entertained, if not especially inspired. the novel was well-constructed but lacking a certain resonance of tone considering the powerful emotional themes broached therein. themes of faith, human dignity, and the dangers of theocracy are approached, but not plumbed.

overall a fair piece of historical fiction. worth reading, especially for those with any curiosity about this particular aspect of the Mormon historical record.