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Gabriel's Daughters: A Novel Paperback – February 10, 2015
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
"...Jensen's nuanced consideration of that struggle (polygamy vs. mainstream Mormonism) is the story's greatest strength. She refrains from easy judgments, and her ability to present the Martin sisters' genuine love for their home alongside its pitfalls challenges readers to embrace the full complexity of polygamist communities...a serviceable plot and characters bolstered by unusually sophisticated thinking about polygamy and its relationship to mainstream Mormonism." -Kirkus Reviews
"Jensen has a light touch and takes a more academic and philosophic approach than a dogmatic or moral one to these issues." Jennie Hansen, MeridianMagazine
Gabriel's Daughters is a bold tale of transformation, forgiveness and reconciliation, rife with literary references and tender in its treatment of widely divergent faith communities and world views.
Jensen shows great insights into the lives of those struggling with polygamous community problems and she helps the reader see the wider pictures. She cleverly weaves into her text expertise in theology, culinary arts, bee keeping, silkworm production, animal management and some medical issues, among others, that were not familiar to me. This enrichment along with the tapestry of the fascinating story makes this a hard read to put down.
I enjoyed how the characters from Don't You Marry the Mormon Boys were integrated into this follow-up novel. Gabriel's Daughters is so well written that it stands on its own...Gabriel's Daughters includes elements of hope, persistence, suspense, and love, which always make for a good read.
From the Author
As I began to write Don't You Marry the Mormon Boys, I told Zina's story as well as her sister Louisa's, but it soon became evident that the timeline of the two tales would prove to be problematic, so I had to remove Zina's story and promise her she would have a book of her own. Zina, thank you for your grace and your patience.
Zina's sister Amy was a complete surprise and didn't show up in my original outline,but by then she had grown up to be a lovely teenager and asked if she could appear in the book. I realized that her story was just as significant in its own way as her older sisters', who, incidentally, were delighted to welcome her and her story. This storyline broadened the perspective and brought the book full circle, giving balance and perspective to the narratives of Zina, Louisa, and Amy Martin, three remarkably different sisters I created on paper and have grown to love.
When I was a freshman at Utah State University, I took a wonderful course called "Introduction to Folklore" taught by Austin E.Fife, Ph.D. He and his wife Alta were called "the founders of Mormon folklore studies" by Eric A. Eliason. William A. Wilson describes their profound influence on folklore in Utah: "Austin and Alta Fife devoted much of their lives to interpreting the Mormon and Western culture that produced them. Just as their parents and grandparents had helped pioneer the West, they broke new ground in American Folklore scholarship---in the study of Mormon Folklore, cowboy and western folksong, and material folk culture---and charted a course others were to follow."
As a wedding/graduation gift, Dr. Fife presented me with a kiss on the cheek and a copy of Saints of Sage and Saddle, a book he and his wife authored. More than forty years later, I thank him for his influence in my education and in my life.
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So, it was with much pleasure that I was able to reconnect with Joshua Martin, of Gabriel's Landing, and continue with the story of his remarkable family. Don't You Marry the Mormon Boys, the initial novel in the series introduced us to Joshua, his wives, Sarah and Rachel, and daughter Louisa. We shared both the laughter and tears as a family that was so isolated from the rest of the world, comes to deal with life in the 21st century. Who can forget the hilarious scene where the kidnappers of the twins try to connect with the family to connect the ransom, not knowing that every block in Salt Lake City has its chapel and there is more than one bishop in the Mormon Church.
Our heroine is Zina, a younger child, who leaves the desert town and all of its prohibitions and rules, and finds herself learning about the kindness of strangers and the meanness of others. It takes us to Chicago, Minneapolis, Hawthorne Valley, Salt Lake City, and finally returns to Gabriel's Landing.
Zina learns so much about life, but most important, she learns about love and reconciliation and forgiveness. We find that she turns into a loving and wise woman as she discovers her strengths and talents, While cooking at home was a time to feed all her father's children, it leads her into a way to survive and share her life with others.
I am not going to say much more about her journey, but I am so glad to meet another endearing character who is a part of Joshua's family. It is well worth the read. This is a kind of book you read late into the night because you have to know what happens next to these endearing characters. This is what makes or breaks a book for me: Do I like these people? What makes them so interesting? and, of course, What happens next?
I am left with only one question, as I put down the book, "What happens to Amy?" With polygamy, there is always another child, another story.
Are we due for another sequel, Ms Jensen?