An enthralling debut novel about a teenage girl who finds refuge - but perhaps not - in an 1840s Shaker community.
In this exquisite, transporting debut, 15-year-old Polly Kimball sets fire to the family farm, killing her abusive father. She and her young brother find shelter in a Massachusetts Shaker community called The City of Hope. It is the Era of Manifestations, when young girls in Shaker enclaves all across the Northeast are experiencing extraordinary mystical visions, earning them the honorific of "Visionist" and bringing renown to their settlements.
The City of Hope has not yet been blessed with a Visionist, but that changes when Polly arrives and is unexpectedly exalted. As she struggles to keep her dark secrets concealed in the face of increasing scrutiny, Polly finds herself in a life-changing friendship with a young Shaker sister named Charity, a girl who will stake everything - including her faith - on Polly's honesty and purity.
Editors Select, January 2014 - I very rarely, if ever, choose a Historical Fiction book to read for pleasure. After skimming a brief summary of The Visionist I decided to give it a try – and I’m very happy I did. The story follows the unique and haunting experiences of Polly Kimball – a 15 year old girl who kills her abusive father and finds refuge in a tight-knit Massachusetts Shaker community. Unexpectedly, Polly is hailed within the group as a “Visionist”. With this newfound praise, and accompanying scrutiny, we watch her struggle as she adjusts to her new status, new friendships, and new life- all while keeping her harrowing past hidden. It’s hard to believe that this is Rachel Urquhart’s debut novel- it is beautifully written, wonderfully researched, and overall a great read. I’ll definitely look out for more from her in the future. –Laura, Audible Editor
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Insight into the Stark World of the Shakers
- Suzn F