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July 27, 2010

The Seeker by Ann H. Gabhart

About this novel:
Set during the 1860s, The Seeker introduces readers to Charlotte Vance, a pampered Kentucky gentlewoman who knows what she wants. But when the man she planned to marry joins the Shakers—a religious group that does not allow marriage—she is left dumbfounded. And when her father brings home a new wife who is young enough to be Charlotte’s sister, it is more than she can bear.

With the country—and her own household—on the brink of civil war, Charlotte hatches a plan to avoid her new stepmother and win back her man by joining the Shaker community at Harmony Hill. Little does she know that this decision will lead her down a road of unforeseen consequences

My thoughts:
Growing up in PA, and about 30 minutes from the Amish community, I am very familiar with the lifestyles of more conservative groups, but I had never heard of the Shakers. They sound like a cross between a charismatic church group, and a radical cult that doesn't believe in marriage. So not only did I learn a lot about this population, but I also gained a greater appreciation for freedom of choice that we have. One thing the Shakers were keen on was not forcing people into their way of life. Members were always free to leave, and it made me appreciate living in the US and having so many liberties that I take for granted too often.

The book centered around a southern belle, who lived a life of luxury with servants surrounding her, and who had to make a very difficult choice to save someone she cared about. The story also tells the tales of the Civil War through the eyes of an artist, who draws for the Harper's Weekly to keep American's abreast of the war details. This story is about war-times, romance, and 'family' ties, noting that not all family is defined by blood-relation. This book was very enjoyable and also educational.

Living just thirty miles from a restored Shaker village in Kentucky, Ann H. Gabhart, author, has walked the same paths that her characters might have walked in generations past. Her thorough research provides a convincing and colorful backdrop for her Shaker novels. Gabhart is the author of several novels, including The Outsider and The Believer.

Available July 2010 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group

Disclaimer: Review copy provided

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