An impressive work of literary fiction that accurately explores the struggles of being raised in a polygamous community. Jensen’s novel explores the unique strengths and weaknesses of the bonds in a polygamous family.
Gabriel's Daughters wrestles with issues of polygamy, homosexuality, and modernity through the lives of the large, loving, and polygamous Martin family. The story is told primarily through the eyes of Zina Martin, a young girl who, upon discovering she is impregnated by her "sterile" teacher—and will soon be married off to a man three times her age— escapes the enclosed polygamous town of Gabriel's Landing, Utah.
Zina then embarks on a journey full of self-discovery, yet she can never completely escape the longing she has for her family and even the controversial and outdated lifestyle she once lived. Through both tears and triumph, Jensen has crafted a moving story that not only acts as insightful social commentary but also prompts readers to reevaluate their lives.
Looks couldn’t be discounted, and the girls observed several handsome men in their congregation. How a man treated his wife and family was the final test. Not too old, nice looking and kind, that’s what they’d choose if they had a choice. Hank Smart was first on Zina’s list, if she could ever imagine herself actually married, which she preferred not to do. Hank’s wives seemed to love him very much. He was, by all accounts, a kind husband and the sort of father who wrestled with his boys, praised his daughters’ domestic skills, and read the Bible to them at night. Still, though Hank was a fine man, she could never envision herself having romantic feelings for him.
A few weeks before Zina’s sixteenth birthday, Cyrus Hamilton began visiting in the evenings. After polite small talk with the aunts, he and Father would disappear into the study for quiet conversations. Cyrus was in his forties and already a grandfather, making him one of the first men Zina and Louisa had crossed off their hypothetical lists. His sizeable paunch suggested that at least one of his wives was a good cook, and he had abandoned belts; he wore suspenders to hold up his trousers.
If Zina could assign a color to Cyrus, as she often did with people, he would be gray. His thinning gray hair was slicked back with some sort of greasy tonic. His skin, teeth, and eyes were gray. There was always a dark line of dirt under his fingernails, which he cleaned with a pocketknife every Sunday during church services. Even the white sheets on his family’s clotheslines didn’t stay white after a few washings. Zina’s mother said his wives had not been taught to do laundry properly, and that was a shame.
Excerpted from GABRIEL’S DAUGHTERS by JANET KAY JENSEN. Copyright © 2015 by JANET KAY JENSEN. Excerpted by permission of JOLLY FISH PRESS, LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
About the Author
Janet Jensen leads a quiet life in a college town nestled in the foothills of the northern edge of the Wasatch Mountains. She and her husband Miles, an attorney, met as members of Utah State University’s Intercollegiate Debate Team and are parents of three grown sons: a soccer enthusiast/physician in Salt Lake City, Utah; an exercise physiologist/football coach/graduate student in Jyvaskyla, Finland; and a skydiver/embedded systems engineer in Berkeley, California. The Jensens have happily become grandparents of four.
Janet is co-author of a literature-based cookbook, The Book Lover’s Cookbook: Recipes Inspired by Great Works of Literature and the Passages that Feature Them (Wenger & Jensen, Ballantine, 2003), and an award-winning novel, Don’t You Marry the Mormon Boys (Bonneville Books, 2007), which won a gold medal for Cultural Fiction in the Readers Favorite International Book Awards Contest.
Her work also appears in Parables for Today (Cedar Fort, 2012) and Gruff Variations (Writing for Charity, 2012). Baking Day, a personal essay, placed second in the 2011 national essay/memoir contest sponsored by The Writer Magazine and Gotham Writers Workshops.
Janet holds degrees in Speech-Language Pathology from Utah State University and Northwestern University and worked in educational settings for more than twenty years.
A retired soccer mom, Cub Scout leader and PTA president, she is a now a full-time writer and a literacy tutor who feels genuine panic when she is stranded without something to read. Janet welcomes correspondence with readers. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/JanetKayJensenAuthor?fref=ts. She maintains a website at her website at www.janetjensen.com, and an author page at GoodReads. She tweets as JanetKJensen and blogs at www.janetkayjensen.blogspot.com.
My Top Ten
1. My husband
2. My children
3. My grandchildren
4. My faith
5. Logan, Utah
6. My country
7. My education
8. Great books