the guardian Sat 14 February 2009
Dual time-frames have become such a cliché of book-club faux-lit that it's easy to forget how effective they can be. David Ebershoff uses multiple voices and texts to link one BeckyLyn Scott's apparent shooting of her husband as he gambled on the internet to the plural marriage, over a century earlier, of the Mormon elder Brigham Young and his "rebel" 19th wife, Ann Eliza. BeckyLyn and her husband were members of a radical breakaway Mormon sect; one of the main narrators is the gay son they expelled from their lives and commune when he was a teenager. There are longueurs - the historical chapters purporting to be from Ann Eliza's book drag like a caravan with a flat tyre - but for the most part this is intelligent, compelling stuff with several decent twists.