I read constantly. It doesn’t matter the weather or the time of the year. I just read. While I do a fair amount of news reading with the NY Times, Washington Post, etc. I embrace my pleasure reading. But as I mentioned in a previous blog, I’ve gotten choosy with my selections.
I was browsing on Amazon for something interesting. Not fluff. Not too light. But not too deep that it wiped out my pleasure and only brought angst. I can’t do angst right now in the present political climate.
So I found a good mystery by Charles Finch. Apparently, it’s the first in a six book series. This was called A Beautiful Blue Death. The setting is Victorian London and Charles Lenox is gentleman and amateur detective. The plot held my interest and the characters were likable. For the most part. The ending seemed to drag a bit almost in an effort by the author to prolong the story. But overall, it was an enjoyable read.
However, I’m now reading The Visionist by Rachel Urquhart. I purchased the novel in Stockbridge at the gift shop at the Red Lion Inn where Alice and I had lunch.
The setting is the Berkshires, where we were visiting. The author grew up spending summers in the Pittsfield, Mass. area. And unbeknownst to me when we visited, a major Shaker settlement was located there in the mid-1800’s. (Hancock Shaker Village is still there and visitors can tour the museum, etc. I’m hoping that Alice and I will pay it a visit when we return next May) In the 1930’s the author’s grandfather purchased what had been a Shaker meetinghouse and the author now lives there.
I know very little about the Shakers, except for their furniture. So I thought this would be a good opportunity to learn because the novel is fiction based on fact. And the author did extensive research. The story is told from three points of view. Polly Kimball is 15 and through a series of unfortunate events, she ends up at the settlement with her younger brother, Ben, looking for shelter. Shaker Sister Charity takes Polly under her wing to teach her the ways of the religious sect. And Simon Pryor is the fire inspector investigating the fire of Polly’s farmhouse where her father perished in the flames.
Like so many religions, there are rules and regulations. Sisters and brethren are kept separate in daily life. Once one has agreed to join the settlement, they must renounce all blood relatives. (At age 18, they do have a choice to sign a covenant or leave for the World) They have total isolation. No sex is allowed. Young girls in these communities are being visited by extraordinary mystical visions. When Polly arrives, she is expectedly exalted as their Visionist, which brings renown to the settlement.
I’m on page 100 and very much enjoying the story. It’s very well written and has a bit of a mystery to the plot. It’s a story of female friendship. But it also questions belief, identity, truth and lies. I highly recommend it!
I look forward to hearing what you’re reading this summer.
See you here next time…………….