Thursday, 22 January 2009

The Outsider by Ann Gabhart ~ Tracy's Take

What is it about?

Gabrielle Hope is a contented young member of the Society of Believers, joyfully living according to the precepts of the ‘Shaker’ teachings. When Brother Nathan is terribly injured in a fire, his treatment by a local doctor from outside of the Shaker village sets into motion Gabrielle’s questioning of her life and the Shaker teachings. Will her faith in the teachings of the Believers be enough to hold her through the challenges she will face? Or will the steady unconditional love of the doctor prove her undoing in the eyes of her brethren and sisters in the faith?

What I thought:

‘The Outsider’ provides a well written and intriguing glimpse into the life of the Shaker’s. Through the eyes of Gabrielle, Ann Gabhart takes the reader through the struggles of those living in a religious sect, whose teachings bear just enough of the truth to make the untruths seem reasonable.

Gabrielle’s emerging awareness that perhaps all the teachings of her faith are not quite what they ought to be was well developed and entirely realistic. My heart ached for her as she attempted to show compassion and love for her fellow believers, and yet was thwarted by the elders of the sect time and again.

I loved that Ann Gabhart takes Gabrielle’s story through the fullness of her journey from innocent joyful faith, to the barest question of uncertainty to fully doubting the validity of the teachings she was following.

The ending bears the skill of an accomplished writer, with the delicate balance of wrapping up all the loose ends, and just enough left unsaid to enable the reader to imagine a wonderful life for Gabrielle.

Guest reviewer ~ my friend Tracy from Beyond My Picket Fence

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