Friday, August 22, 2008

"The 19th Wife"

David Ebershoff is the author of the novels Pasadena and The Danish Girl, and a short-story collection, The Rose City.

He applied the Page 69 Test to his new novel, The 19th Wife, and reported the following:
When I opened The 19th Wife to p. 69 I honestly did not know what I would find. The novel is in some ways two novels – one about Ann Eliza Young, Brigham Young’s 19th wife. In 1875 she divorced her powerful husband, left the Mormon Church, and went on a crusade to end polygamy in the United States. The second narrative is told by Jordan Scott, a present-day young man who grew up in a polygamous community in a remote part of the Utah desert and whose mother has been arrested for killing his polygamous father. On top of that, much of the book is narrated through several historical “documents” (I use quotes because I wrote them, although they are presented to the reader as archival texts). So when I turned to p.69 I didn’t know if I would find a scene from Ann Eliza’s narrative, or Jordan’s. As it turns out, it’s from Jordan’s story and it passes the test: this page represents the quest Jordan is on to find out who killed his dad. Out of curiosity, I turned to p. 99: there I found a part-title page, introducing a section from Ann Eliza’s story. And so for The 19th Wife, when taken together pages 69 and 99 give the reader a quick glimpse into the book’s expansive story.
Read an excerpt from The 19th Wife, and learn more about the author and his work at David Ebershoff's website.

Visit the complete list of books in the Page 69 Test Series.

--Marshal Zeringue