Although well written and filled with information about the Shaker lifestyle, I didn’t think I would ever reach the end of this book. Its overwhelming sense of hopelessness was both depressing and frustrating to me. I was constantly wanting to tell Lacy and Issac to run as fast as they could to get away from the warped religious practices of Harmony Hill but at the same time realized that they had little choice in the matter.
I have heard of the Shakers all my life but until I read Gabhart’s novels about them, I knew very little about their beliefs. Her meticulous research for the Shaker Books series presented Shaker life in a manner that made me feel as though I was there. I can only assume that Gabhart’s purpose in writing this series was to highlight the history of the Shakers while illustrating the dangers of religious groups whose beliefs are contrary to Biblical truth. I just hope that other readers will not misunderstand and see these books as an endorsement of Shaker teaching.
This book was provided for review by
Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.
“Let the child go, Lacey. Right now! We’ve come into this community to leave things of the world behind and do as they say” said Preacher Palmer. “But she needs me.” She spoke barely above a whisper. “She needs discipline. And so do you…” he said.
There is an intrigue and enigma with the Shakers and their way of life. Award-winning author Ann Gabhart weaves a heartrending novel of the Shakers in her latest Shaker novel, The Blessed (ISBN: 978-08007-3454-1, $14.99, 416 pages, July 2011). It is a time of spiritual revival in the mid-1840’s when the Shakers worship services received many spiritual messages from Mother Ann and other Shaker leaders. Harmony Hill was a place offering a different way of life from the world. This village was a place where the people were dedicated to community, hard work, practicing their worship, and engaging in long hours of worship each week.
It is 1844. In her twenty years, Lacey Bishop has endured hard times including the death of her mother and her father’s remarriage to a woman with no love for his children. When she was thirteen, Lacey went to live with the preacher and his wife. Upon the sudden death of the preacher’s wife, difficult times return for Lacey. The preacher convinces Lacey to marry him so she can continue to act as a mother to the little girl who was left on the preacher’s doorstop. But Lacey never expected he would decide to take all of them to a Shaker village. At the village her marriage is still legal to the outside world but living in a Shaker community, they believed marriage is a sin. Lacey finds herself drawn to Isaac Kingston, a man who came to the Shakers after his young bride died. Confused and her heart torn between right and wrong, Lacey must choose what to do. Discover how the Shakers lived in The Blessed and if truth, love and forgiveness become reality for Lacey.
Read the first and second chapters…
“When you step into the world of Ann Gabhart’s The Blessed, you’ll find it inhabited by a truly delightful cast of characters. Theirs is a multileveled love story . . . between a man and a woman, yes, but also between a woman and a child not her own. Certainly, a tender and inspiring read.”–Ann Tatlock, award-winning novelist
“Ann H. Gabhart takes us on a remarkable journey into the lives of the Shakers and their community. With a compelling style, she weaves a story of love, compassion, and a young woman’s determination to find God’s truth. From cover to cover, The Blessed captivates and challenges–an absolutely wonderful read.”–Judith Miller, author of A Bond Never Broken
“A heartwarming story of second chances, The Blessed takes readers on an unforgettable journey of love, self-sacrifice, and learning to trust God in seemingly impossible circumstances. Skillful research and a well-woven story make for a genuine page-turner!”–Lorna Seilstad, author of the Lake Manawa Summers series
“A thoughtful exploration of a young woman’s coming of age in a Shaker Community, The Blessed is a satisfying, joyful read.”–Jan Watson, author of the award-winning Troublesome Creek series
“Readers will love The Blessed . . . Ann H. Gabhart weaves a tender story of forbidden longing and loyalty, and her deep understanding of the Shaker historical setting rings true.”–Marta Perry, author of Sarah’s Gift
“Ann Gabhart has written a fine and fair rendering of the Shaker ways and how the beliefs of this communal society touched the lives of those within the community and those without. As someone interested in the history of communal societies, I often wondered how the Shakers saw their world and faith and how their neighbors might have responded. Ann has shown us through distinctive and fallible characters how easily one can be led astray by doctrine not infused with God’s grace.”–Jane Kirkpatrick, award-winning author of The Daughter’s Walk
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Ann Gabhart is the award-winning, bestselling author of several books about the Shakers, including The Believer, The Outsider and The Seeker. Living just thirty miles from a restored Shaker village and one mile from the place she was born in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky, she has walked the same paths that her characters might have walked in generations past. For more information about Ann visit her website at www.annhgabhart.com