It was really interesting learning about the Shaker community in this novel. I knew nothing about their ideas/beliefs and many times found myself asking the same questions alongside Heather about why they believed/did something. I also liked seeing the Shaker community through Heathers eyes, an outsider, and Sophrena, a Shaker. It gave two very interesting perspectives.
I loved the focus of children being a gift from God! Like Heather I could not image a place without marriage or babies in a community. I believe both are such a blessing and I'm so glad that it was encouraged in this book as so.
The theme of forgiveness was so beautiful and made the ending that much sweeter. I could very easily relate to both ladies in their struggle with bitterness against a certain family member.
Overall this was a good story, but I'm not sure if I would recommend it. I felt the first half was very sad and slightly depressing for a Christmas novel. This isnt a bad thing, but I was caught by surprise at the heartache and loneliness. However the ending is such a joyful reunion due to all of this.
I really enjoyed this informative and compelling novel about the Shakers, whom I knew very little about. I did not know they don't date or marry the opposite sex; they separate men, women and children; I wonder how they grow their faith when there is no procreation! I knew they lived a simple life but the extent that they go to to be simple is baffling! I liked the main character, Heather, who arrives to live with the Shakers in a "sinful" condition. She chose to learn the good things from the Shakers that would enrich her life and to reject the things she felt were devisive. I appreciated the author's development of Heather's complicated family relationships with her husband, father, siblings and aunt. This novel deals with deep hatred, forgiveness, unconditional love, and unbelieveable stress.
Marry the man your Father despised, get kicked out o f your family home, follow your new husband into the Civil War, become the washerwoman for a couple hundred smelly foot soliders , hide your pregnancy to stay , walk a good ways home.Heather Worth faces more than that. She follows her Mothers advice in the last letter shes received, and seeks sanctuary with an unknown Aunt. A Shaker, secluded from the World, and the ways of procreation, this barely 18 year old arrives before Christmas, cold, exhausted, worried about her Husband, and ready to give birth without a Midwife or Mom.
If any of this sounds familiar, read this book. A beautiful ending on several levels. Love is thicker than blood, bad blood, and bloodshed. Amusing, touching, thoughtful, historically accurate, one of the best probable stories in a long while. Inspired by a visit to a historical site.