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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Believer...Review

About the book:
Elizabeth Duncan has nowhere to turn. In charge of her younger brother and sister after their parents die, her options are limited. When she hears that the Shaker community in the next county takes in orphans, she presents herself and her siblings at Harmony Hill. Despite the hard work and strange new beliefs around her, Elizabeth is relieved to have a roof overhead and food to eat. But when she feels a strong attachment to a handsome young Believer named Ethan, life gets complicated. Ethan has never looked on the opposite sex as anything but sisters, but he can't shake the new feelings that Elizabeth has awakened in him. Will Elizabeth be forced to leave the village to keep Ethan from stumbling? Or will Ethan's love for her change their lives forever?

Other than the name, I was not familiar with the Shaker religion at all, and found it fascinating: their founder was believed to be the second coming of Christ in female form; and, among other things, they believed in celibacy, communal living and hard work. Like the Amish, they were often ridiculed for their beliefs, their manner of dressing and their way of life.

The story of Elizabeth and her family is an interesting one. After their father's death, their landlord attempts to force Elizabeth to marry him, and she knows she must leave with her young brother and sister. Her father had often talked of the peace he felt when visiting the Shaker community, and as Elizabeth knows, the Shakers never turn away those in need. Finding their beliefs different than her own, Elizabeth nonetheless tries to adapt and assimilate herself and her siblings into the community. Ethan came to the Shakers by chance as a young child, and has never had reason to doubt his religion, or the belief that marriage is a sin and only brings conflict and trouble. Until he meets Elizabeth.

While somewhat predictable and a bit preachy, I still found the story compelling and interesting. It's a fast, easy read, but not a completely light one. The exploration of doubting one's core beliefs and the descriptions of Elizabeth's and Ethan's struggles to understand what God really wants for them were well done. Even as Ethan doubts and Elizabeth finds it hard to commit to this new way of life, the Shaker religion was never ridiculed. Rather, Brother Issachar's character served to teach Ethan that God did know him and that the most important thing was to follow his own heart.

Enjoyable and easily recommended, especially to fans of Amish books.

Thanks to Donna Hausler from the Baker Publishing Group for the opportunity to review this book. You can find out more about Ann H. Gabhart here. You can purchase the book here.

Read 8/09

* * * *
4/5 Stars

2 comments:

  1. Thanks, Holly, for reading and reviewing my book, The Believer. I don't take readers for granted or reviewers either because while reading a good book might be fun and easy, reviewing one takes skill and talent. So thank you for spending some of your talent telling others about my book. And I love your reading quotes. I once came across one by Groucho Marx that goes something like this, "Outside a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside a dog it's too dark to read." He had a quirky sense of humor and I don't know why that quote makes me smile, but it does.

    Keep reading and reviewing for your blogging friends.

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  2. Nice review Holly. I'm not at all familiar with the Shaker religion but this book does sound really good, definitely one I wouldn't mind picking up. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

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