Month: February 2015

“Wife No. 19” by Ann Eliza Young

“Wife No. 19” by Ann Eliza Young

Wife No. 19 was originally published in 1875. Ann Eliza Young was Brigham Young’s 19th wife. The book is an expose of Mormonism and the life of bondage that the practice of polygamy forced women to endure.

I thought this book would be an interesting read because polygamy has, in recent years, become a topic open for discussion. On one hand there are TV shows like “Sister Wives” portraying polygamy as a valid lifestyle. On the other hand we have stories of Warren Jeffs and his absolute dictatorship over women’s lives. I’m not here to take a stand on one side or the other but I did find this book fascinating as a historical document. U.S. history classes don’t often have much to say about the Mormons and the settlement of Utah, and Ann Eliza Young’s retelling is quite detailed and comprehensive. She does spend a lot of time detailing some of Brigham Young’s schemes to benefit himself financially on the labor of his followers, but you can sense how these people often had no choice but to go along with Brigham’s schemes because they were so beholden to him.

I really enjoyed the book. Ann Eliza knows how to tell a story and I had no reason to doubt the accuracy of her account of events. It did however bother me some that in places she becomes rather vitriolic and I wondered if there might be some exaggeration. I find it hard to believe, sitting here in the 21st century that people could be so completely deceived. But these events took place in the 19th century and many of the Mormon followers had little or no education. In fact, Brigham Young opposed all efforts to introduce public education in Mormon communities because he said that if the children were educated they would not be good workers.

If you love your history in a narrative form, like I do, than I think you will really enjoy this book. Ann Eliza Young was able to eventually leave the Mormon Church with her 2 children. She spent many years as a public speaker, detailing for the general public the truth of the Mormon beliefs and lifestyle. So pick up a copy of this book and take a walk down history lane. Wife No. 19 (Paperback). This book is available on Amazon.

“The Miniaturist” by Jessie Burton

“The Miniaturist” by Jessie Burton

A startlingly, fabulous story. You will not be able to put down The Miniaturist until you have followed the drama to its end. I almost passed this one up thinking it might be for a young audience. Boy, was I wrong!

The Miniaturist opens with Nella, a young woman of 18, as she arrives in Amsterdam. A month previously she married Johannes Brandt, a rich merchant in the city. He promptly left for business reasons and Nella is left to travel alone to her new home in Amsterdam. But when she arrives there is no husband to greet her. Instead she finds his sister, Marin, Cornelia the maid, and Otto the houseman. Nella is quickly thrown into the complexity of the adult world and all its secrets.

Marin runs the household with an iron fist, but what is it that she keeps hidden in her seemingly cold heart. Cornelia is the ever faithful and loyal servant who likes to make a little mischief and thinks she knows everyone’s secret, but what she doesn’t know is very dangerous indeed. Otto is a black man, a rarity in 17th century Amsterdam, who Johannes brought back with him from one of his journeys. He is subject to the stares and gossip of everyone in society. Finally, there is Johannes. The husband who will not visit his wife’s bed. The merchant who stalls the sale of a warehouse full of sugar. The man whose secret will lead to someone’s death.

Every page is filled with drama and intrigue. Follow Nella and Marin as they try to find a place of freedom in their lives in an era where women are rarely allowed to be free agents.
Jessie Burton has done a wonderful job in The Miniaturist of portraying Amsterdam in the 1600’s. Her characters are rich and intriguing. The story is dark at times but nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I encourage you to take a chance with this absorbing tale. I think you will not be disappointed.

The Miniaturist: A Novel

“The Prince” by Niccolo Machiavelli

“The Prince” by Niccolo Machiavelli

Every once in a while I feel the need to read a real classic and this one came up in my reading list. This book has been around for hundreds of years and given insight to generations of readers. I don’t think I can add anything to the scholarly reviews that have preceded mine but I do have a couple of thoughts.

First, I find classic literature to be valuable to a reader because it shows us where we have come from as a culture.

Second, while I did find the old English style a bit cumbersome at times to read and this is not a novel so there’s no story per se, I nevertheless found the principles in this book as regarding political power to still be in effect in today’s governments. I think that having this insight will make me a better judge of the political machinations that occur around me.

I encourage all readers to delve into the classics now and again to give your mind a challenge and a glimpse into the past.

Happy Reading!

The Prince