DAVID EBERSHOFF, THE 19TH WIFE

As originally conceived, The 19th Wife [Random House, $26], David Ebershoff's novel based on the life of Ann Eliza Young, who publicly divorced Mormon pioneer Brigham Young, was to be set solely in the 19th century. But after he traveled to the compound of Warren Jeffs' polygamous sect, Ebershoff realized that, 200 years later, little had changed.

As originally conceived, The 19th Wife [Random House, $26], David Ebershoff's novel based on the life of Ann Eliza Young, who publicly divorced Mormon pioneer Brigham Young, was to be set solely in the 19th century. But after he traveled to the compound of Warren Jeffs' polygamous sect, Ebershoff realized that, 200 years later, little had changed. "I noticed there was a cop on my tail," says Ebershoff, 39. "I was literally driven out of town. I thought, 'Can that happen in the 21st-century United States?'" In the resulting book, Ebershoff meshes Mrs. Young's story with that of a present-day 20-year-old man investigating his father's murder after his mother (a 19th wife) is accused of the killing. "I personally don't have reason to object if a man wants to live with 19 women," Ebershoff says, "but when children are involved, it becomes a much more complicated question." Timothy Hodler

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