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The Visionist: A Novel Hardcover – January 14, 2014
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Top Customer Reviews
Her mother drove them to the nearby City of Hope, a Shaker settlement. She dropped off both of her children and left. Confused and terrified, Polly, still fearful of her violent father, is seen as having visions during community prayer one evening. From then on, Polly, who considers herself to be a murderer, is now seen as a visionist, through which their founder, Ann Lee, can communicate with them.
As the summary suggests, this was a really exciting and interesting book. Narrated in three persons, the reader is afforded three valuable viewpoints. The characters were well developed and very realistic. The setting was detailed and certainly influenced the storyline. Set in the mid 19th century in New England, the Shakers, at that time, were experiencing what they called the “Era of Manifestations”. During this ten-year period, many Shaker community members were said to be experiencing visions. Polly’s community, the City of Hope, just happened to be a community that was waiting for their own ‘visionist’ to spur on the faith. So the impact of Polly’s actions fell onto very fertile ground. Consequently, the tension built throughout the story, starting with the dramatic beginning.
This book teaches the reader, in an interesting and unusual way, that things are not always as they appear. This book is filled with surprises. This is a great book!
This novel revolves around the sad Kimball family, their escape from abuse and the use of a Shaker community as a safe haven. The story has 3 main characters: Polly, an abused child, Charity, a Shaker girl and Simon, an arson investigator. The story lines weave around one another until they merge. There is mystery, mysticism and consequence all braided together here. The story never falters. Character, plot and background are all unfolded with a skilled hand. I enjoyed every single page of this book. There is nothing more enjoyable than an inventive story in the hands of someone who can truly write.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys strong plot in a historical context. I think it helps to have an enjoyment of Shaker history but I'd not say that is required. Excellent read; I look forward to more work from this author.
Meanwhile, the fire inspector has been sent out to Polly's farm to discover the cause of the fire that destroyed the house and greedy men and women seek to claim the valuable land as their own.
The Visionist by Rachel Urquhart had a lot of potential. The situation and characters were unique and it was interesting learning more about the Shakers. When we lived in New Hampshire, we drove often through the Shaker's community nearby and loved their beautiful, simple homes and lovely farms. Even so, I knew very little about their beliefs or customs, beyond the fact that they followed the guidelines set by their prophetess Ann Lee and that they lived a celibate life.
I was immediately enthralled by Polly's story. She sought peace and safety from the world and The Shakers, who had forsaken the world, offered just what she needed. However, there was danger from within. Polly no longer was allowed to be with her younger brother Ben and she held her own secrets that would turn the other Shakers against her.
The beginning of the book starts with plenty of action and excitement. The middle starts to lag and I almost abandoned the novel around 100 pages. Polly's friend Charity seems to say the same thing over and over. I persevered and thankfully, the novel has a dramatic and satisfying conclusion.
Polly inadvertently finds herself heralded as a Visionist, one who sees the love of the Founder during the ecstasy of her first service. The descriptions of the rapture of the faithful and the pleasure of a simple life enmesh the reader even as Polly is woven into the settlement. Yet the fissures in the village appear, and the venom of the world remains in hearts. In the hearts of her one true friend and in the strengthening of the fire investigator's determination to help her, I see the traces of true spirit.
This book bravely approaches the "Narrow Path" to goodness. The answer is not as it is held by many, but I believe the author has achieved a lovely dance of her own. Certainly it is not simple. I found the book subtle and beautiful in its approach to the seekers within it. The Shaker dream is lovely in its simple quest and heartbreaking when it fails in some souls. The questions rebound in the reader's mind making this a gifted piece of writing.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
“The Visionist,” set in New England in the 1840’s, introduces readers to Shaker life. Abandoned as a baby, the strict life of a Shaker is the only life Sister Charity has ever... Read morePublished 3 months ago by SunshineRose
I couldn't finish reading it. It was very dark. Much different than I expected from the reviews and descriptions I'd that got me to buy the book.Published 5 months ago by Cathy Cassetta
In 2015, in America, I am immensely grateful that we have freedom FROM religion.
Religion is poison.
I cannot imagine living in such a place as did Polly & Charity. Read more
Book club pick. Learned a lot about Shakers. (My) books cover looks like me at 16. Shocking to see as no picks were taken in teen years. Bonus.Published 13 months ago by B. J. Doland
Our book club read and discussed this book. Unusual for us, we all would highly recommend. The author writes from the perspective of three main characters, all complex and all in... Read morePublished 13 months ago by SADarragh