Lacey has had a difficult life. Given away when a young teen to a Reverend's family she worked for her keep by taking care of the ailing wife, Mona. She found love from Mona who taught her scripture. Then one day they find a baby left on their doorstep. Mona takes the child in and raises it as her own though the Reverend won't have anything to do with the baby. Lacey especially feels close to the child and the bond they share is unbreakable as the child grows. Then when the child is four, Mona passes away, and the church people begin to gossip and judge when Lacey continues to live at the Reverend's home. When he gives her the choice to marry him or else to leave the house and never see the child again, she does what she has to do to continue to be with the little girl. But Lacey cannot give herself completely as a wife to the Reverend and when the Shakers come knocking on their door the man eventually gets pulled into doctrines of living where marriage is considered a sin. Soon Lacey finds herself moved out to Harmony Hill, the Shaker village, and separated from the child anyway. How could everything she tried to do be brought to this?
I had read another of the author's books, the Seeker, that featured the Shakers and really enjoyed it. In this installment of her Shaker stories, the author really goes into a lot of their beliefs and odd rituals and the demands and rules placed upon the people of their community. The themes of accepting forgiveness, and trying to fix things in our own strength is delved into. I did find this story got bogged down for me. The constant oddness with angels got to be too much at times. There seemed nothing of joy within the Shaker community for Lacey and her inner struggles just seemed to continue to grow with no end in sight. Though she knew what the Shakers believed didn't line up with what Mona had taught her of the bible, she continued to struggle with staying due to the circumstances. Her feelings of entrapment made it a heavy read for me. I just wanted her to get out of there. So all that to say I wanted to love this one but it just an okay read for me. I much preferred "The Seeker" by the same author but because there was a lot of historical information about the Shaker's beliefs in this one, that for me, made it worth the read.
Linked to Semi Colon's Saturday Review of Books