Anyone who knows me knows that I love historical fiction. Adore it. Simply devour it. I picked this book up with a single goal: to learn about a community during a time period that I knew not a single thing about. I definitely accomplished that goal; I knew nothing of Shaker culture, or even that it existed, before reading this novel. The author does a wonderful job of painting a picture of a society that is both strangely haunting and quietly beautiful. In these ways, Rachel Urquhart has accomplished an incredible feat.
However, much of it was difficult to read for me; I have trouble with abuse in literature. Polly's pregnancy was difficult to get through, as well as the details of blood and abandonment and sexual abuse. Additionally, I was not a fan of Simon's perspective, as I just found myself willing it to be over so that I could read about the girls. I believe that his existence in the story could have probably been avoided if it were written slightly differently. I honestly just found his voice and his personal story line boring.
Overall, the story was seamlessly tied and the ending was surprisingly not horrifyingly sad. Although I was not impressed by Simon's perspective, his story was successfully tied into the stories of the rest of the characters. Throughout the novel, I was expecting the ending to be terribly sad and everyone to die, however it was surprisingly happy.
This book gets 2.5 stars because I found it very difficult to pick up and continue.