Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Book Review: "The Seeker" by Ann Gabhart

Charlotte Vance is a young woman who knows what she wants. But when the man she planned to marry joins the Shakers—a religious group that does not marry—she is left dumbfounded. And when her father brings home a new wife who is young enough to be Charlotte's sister, it is more than she can bear. With the country—and her own household—on the brink of civil war, this pampered gentlewoman hatches a plan to avoid her new stepmother and win back her man by joining the Shaker community at Harmony Hill. Little does she know that this decision will lead her down a road toward unforeseen peace—and a very unexpected love.

This book starts off with your typical evil stepmother story, where the father is clueless and bewitched by his younger new wife. He seems ignorant to his adult daughter's feelings and doesn't seem to realize that his new wife is trying to get rid of anything from the old household including his own daughter. Charlotte is caught between her devotion for her father and growing hatred for his new wife. Her original plan to escape is thwarted when her fiance announces that he is going to join the Shakers, a group known to advocate celibacy where marriage and children are forbidden. Due to her desire to save the slaves in her household and because she feels that she has nowhere else to turn she also joins the Shakers, even though she doesn't agree full with their lifestyle.

I still don't understand the Shakers nor do I agree with their lifestyle. I really question all those men who joined the group because they didn't want to get married. It makes me wonder about them. Still though, this book does a much better job at explaining their way of life I felt than the other two books in the series did. Also it was interesting to read about how they dealt with all the soldiers from the Civil War and their desire to help them out. Charlotte is an interesting character as she struggles with her family, her feelings for both her former fiance and the new man in her life Adam, her feelings towards slavery, and then having to adapt to the Shaker lifestyle. She could have turned out to be one of those spoiled rich girls who is used to having everything done for her, but instead her character matures and grows throughout the whole story.

I liked how this book ties in the first book with one of the supporting characters. Since it's been almost two years since I read the first book in the series, I didn't recognize her at first. It wasn't until she told her background story that I realized it was her and also how much time had passed in the story since then. It's a bit sad how her story ended but that was the life that she chose. I can't recall if characters from the second book in the series show up in here.

Overall, I felt that this was the best book of the series. The qualms I had with the first book have disappeared as the Shakers are explained more and even though I don't agree at all with their ways of life, the book shows how the Shakers were having to adapt with the outside world more. In fact the only real qualm I had with this one is that I felt Selena's story at the end is handled rather rushed as she never comes back to defend her actions. I would classify this book as more historical fiction that historical romance as there is not really much interaction between Charlotte and Adam throughout the book. There is a lot of information about Civil War Battles in this book which, as a historian, I really enjoyed. This book can be read as a standalone but if you are wanting to learn more about the Shakers I would recommend reading the entire series. I haven't come across many books focusing on this sect so it's always interesting to learn more about them. I'll be looking forward to reading more books in the future from the author.

The Seeker by Ann Gabhart is published by Revell (2010)

This review copy was provided by the publisher

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