For some that dream had to do with their freedom to worship God as they pleased and not as others deemed they should. For those who followed Joseph Smith and believed that he saw God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, being able to worship as they pleased became very difficult. Many times, the Mormons were forced to leave their homes, sometimes in the dead of night, to save their lives. Before Joseph Smith was killed, he had a revelation that the saints should go west, far away from bigotry and those who sought to do them harm. And so, when the prophet was murdered, the saints journeyed west and became part of the manifest destiny of our nation.
In the Company of Angels centers on Eliza Gadd, the feisty, sophisticated wife of a Mormon bishop. When her husband answers his leader’s call to abandon his cottage in England and settle in the Rocky Mountains, Eliza’s world comes apart. She may help her husband pull a handcart with everything that they own across the plains…but she won’t bring herself to bow to a god she doesn’t believe in.
Stalled by setbacks, the pioneers find themselves forced to take their journey perilously late in the season. The lives of Eliza’s children hang in the balance. But how can she reason with people who believe they are in the hands of angels, that their faith can turn back storms, and that their leaders like the Apostles of old, have the power to raise the dead?
Farland won Best Novel of the Year for this book at the Whitney Awards held in April. As he accepted his award he told the audience how he came to write this novel. He said, “Ghosts came to me in a dream and asked me to write their story.” Farland is a convert to Mormonism, his mother was a devote Baptist. As he wrote this story, he would send his mother parts of it to read. If she didn’t hear from him for a while, she would call and ask him what he was doing about “their” story. When his mother passed away, Farland took his inheritance and published this book.
Photo by Marc Reynolds Marc Reynolds