I decided to add to add a little more substance to my review...
Well, they can't all be awesome. Last month's book circle choice was The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff. It was okay. It wasn't bad or anything, but it just didn't hold my interest.
The novel weaves together two stories. The first deals with the murder of a leader in a modern day polygamous cult. His 19th wife is imprisoned for the murder, and her estranged son begins to unravel the mystery surrounding his death. The second story is a fictional autobiography of Ann Eliza Young, one of Mormon pioneer Brigham Young's actual plural wives, who left the church to become an anti-polygamy crusader. Interspersed throughout the two stories are other fictional autobiographies, letters, and documents rounding out the tale of polygamy throughout American history.
The murder mystery wasn't especially complicated or engaging, and Ann Eliza wasn't a particularly likable narrator. I found myself reading quickly not out of interest but from a desire to get through it. Having studied history (and religion) in college, I think the faked historical stuff troubled me in some strangely purist, academic way.
It was interesting to take an in-depth look at the domestic and spiritual fallout of polygamy. It was especially unsettling how the male characters cloaked their lust (and sometimes violence) in pious spirituality, taking on more and younger wives than they could support just to add variety to the bedroom. The novel made me wonder if the modern day Mormon church is still visited by ghosts of its polygamist past: what if any impact does it have on gender roles or sexual attitudes in their church today?
Penny over Walking Upside Down is our book group's gracious hostess.