Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Gifted by Ann H. Gabhart

The Gifted is the fifth in Ann Gabhart's Shaker series. It's the story of Jessamine Brady, an orphan who was sent to live with the Shakers at Harmony Hill when she was just a child. Jessamine loved the Shakers who took care of her, but she had not joined the group officially because she was not yet of age to sign the agreement.

The Shakers believed that God gifted people with certain abilities. Jessamine loved to make up stories, but that gift was not acceptable to the Shakers. Hands to work. Hearts to God. That was their philosophy. Life in the Shaker colony was very structured, and Jessamine had a hard time conforming. Enter the stranger from "the world" who had been shot. Jessamine and her berry-picking partner found him on the road and brought him to the colony for treatment by their doctor. The story started slow, but, once the stranger, Tristan Cooper, entered the picture, the plot thickened and the suspense built.

The story contrasts the life-styles of the simple Shakers and the wealthy who are vacationing at White Oak Springs resort nearby. Tristan is one of them. Jessamine is attracted to the world and to Tristan. A potential killer on the loose and the conflict between Tristan's commitment to marry a wealthy woman and his love for Jessamine make for an absorbing story. But, that's not all. Other characters in the story will surprise you. The Shaker song, "The Simple Gifts," is referenced throughout the book. Tristan and Jessamine both have gifts, and the underlying theme in the story relates to the text of the song.

As I mentioned, I thought the story started slow. There was a lot of build-up to the girls' finding Tristan, probably so that the reader could absorb the Shaker beliefs before putting them in conflict with the world. Once Tristan entered the story, though, I was hooked. I've read all Gabhart's Shaker books, and I've found them all interesting. She captures the tension between the Shaker colony and the world they try to avoid.

If you like Amish fiction, you'll like The Gifted. Learn more about the author and the other Shaker books on her site.

Disclaimer: I received this book as a gift from the publisher, Revell books. There was no requirement for a review, positive or negative.

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