Have you heard of the Shakers? They were a religious sect in Kentucky a couple of hours from where I live. Appropriately named Shaker Village is still there today offering historical tours and insight into this unique way of life. This is far different than Amish. They are set apart from the world but in a much different way. Kentucky author Ann Gabhart has written some novels about the Shakers. I love them all and anything else she writes. Her down home style lures me in within a few pages and I am hooked.
Her book “The Innocent, A Novel” was one of those fabulous books. I was invested within a few pages of reading this 402 page paperback. It was easy to become emotionally invested in Carlyn Kearney and her big dog, Asher, as the author vividly described their life in troubled Kentucky. As I read through the trials and tribulations this post civil war woman endured, I kept thinking that this would make a great movie. I wanted to watch this book! It had history, suspense, romance, mystery, information on the Shaker religion, a good looking sheriff, pretty leading lady, a massive dog, villain, and more. Kentucky always makes a nice setting for a movie, too.
Carlyn’s husband has been gone in the Civil War for a long time with no word. She and her dog are left to take care of their cabin and homestead. They live near the Shaker Village. With twists and turns things happen and she must take shelter there. In this story you will find heroes, villains, mystery, adventure, romance, intrigue, action, and inspiration. Wow! All packed into one book.
The author took this reader to the Shaker Village on a trip that seemed real. I learned about their views on worship, work, meals, and marriage. They certainly have strange ideas on marriage. The story was heavily sprinkled with scripture and a good inspirational message to “just pray”. The characters were well described and relatable. Some became friends and others were downright unlikeable. At points I chuckled and others I teamed up. Best of all were the twists, turns, and surprises.
I expected to like this book since I like Christian historical fiction, but I loved it. The descriptive language, dialogue and colloquialism used by Ann Gabhart made a smooth, enjoyable read. The well researched, well organized, and well written story made a book I could not put down. If you haven’t read anything by this talented author you should give one of her books a try. She has more Shaker novels, some other fiction, and a cozy mystery series. I rated this a 5 out of 5 stars. Anyone who enjoys Christian fiction, historical or romance, even Amish or Quaker will enjoy this book. I highly recommend it.
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–His good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2