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Customer Reviews for Revell The Gifted, Shaker Series #5

Revell The Gifted, Shaker Series #5

It's 1849, and Jessamine Brady has been in the Shaker Village for half her life. Yet she still struggles to conform to the strict rules, entertaining dreams of the world outside. When she meets Tristan Cooper, she steps beyond the borders of the Shaker Village. Will Jessamine be able to survive the storms of the world? Or will she retreat back to the peace of Harmony Hill?

The thousands of loyal fans of Gabhart's Shaker novels will love this entrancing story of learning to trust the gifts God gives us and let him guide us through life.

Average Customer Rating:
4.312 out of 5
4.3
 out of 
5
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Customer Reviews for The Gifted, Shaker Series #5
Review 1 for The Gifted, Shaker Series #5
This review is fromGifted, The: A Novel - eBook.
Overall Rating: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5

Date:December 21, 2013
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debwilson
Age:18-24
Gender:female
Quality: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Value: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Meets Expectations: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Jessamine Brady knows her identity only as a young girl in her grandmother's cabin the Kentucky woods until the age of ten, when her grandmother passed away. From there, she is taken to the Shaker village in Harmony Hill. For the next ten years, Jessamine is brought up as a Shaker Sister, loving her brethren equally as taught by the Ministry. Curious about the world around her, Jessamine is often found to be in transgression when her disregard of the strict rules land her in trouble. On one such excursion, she finds a man left for dead in the woods, and she brings him back to her village. In the space of three weeks, Jessamine finds herself questioning the very principles and values that define who she really is. Will Tristan be the answer she seeks? Or will he be the very one that tears her apart from her faith and true salvation with the Believers?
A stunning and fitting end to the Shaker series, (if indeed, this is the last installment), it is a wonderful work in and of itself. While the longest book in the series, it was one I simply did not want to put down. I wanted to stay in the land of Jessamine's mind and innocence a little longer, to see things from her point of view. You will feel as if you are learning all these new things right along side her: her hopes, her dreams, her discoveries of life, the good and the bad. A novel rich in the life of yet another Shaker sister, well written, and drew me like a moth to flame.
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Review 2 for The Gifted, Shaker Series #5
Overall Rating: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5

Not one of my favorite books

Date:January 24, 2013
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Irene
Location:United States
Quality: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Value: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Meets Expectations: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
This is a typical story of will she leave the home and the beliefs she was raised with? Will she stay with no regrets? The main characters are not that likeable but the story is entertaining. I gave this book 4/5 stars. I just found it boring. There were too many details. Sometimes less is better and that really applies to this story. That said I did enjoy the setting and time period it was set in. I also thought the author’s research was well done. Her other books are just so much better. If you do like her other books though you may enjoy this book more then I did!
I would like to thank the publisher for the copy of this book I enjoyed reading. I gave an honest review based on my opinion of what I read.
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Review 3 for The Gifted, Shaker Series #5
Overall Rating: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5

Date:November 8, 2012
Customer Avatar
debwilson
Age:18-24
Gender:female
Quality: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Value: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Meets Expectations: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Jessamine Brady knows her identity only as a young girl in her grandmother's cabin the Kentucky woods until the age of ten, when her grandmother passed away. From there, she is taken to the Shaker village in Harmony Hill. For the next ten years, Jessamine is brought up as a Shaker Sister, loving her brethren equally as taught by the Ministry. Curious about the world around her, Jessamine is often found to be in transgression when her disregard of the strict rules land her in trouble. On one such excursion, she finds a man left for dead in the woods, and she brings him back to her village. In the space of three weeks, Jessamine finds herself questioning the very principles and values that define who she really is. Will Tristan be the answer she seeks? Or will he be the very one that tears her apart from her faith and true salvation with the Believers?
A stunning and fitting end to the Shaker series, (if indeed, this is the last installment), it is a wonderful work in and of itself. While the longest book in the series, it was one I simply did not want to put down. I wanted to stay in the land of Jessamine's mind and innocence a little longer, to see things from her point of view. You will feel as if you are learning all these new things right along side her: her hopes, her dreams, her discoveries of life, the good and the bad. A novel rich in the life of yet another Shaker sister, well written, and drew me like a moth to flame.
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Review 4 for The Gifted, Shaker Series #5
Overall Rating: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5

A Favorite in the Shaker Series

Date:August 13, 2012
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Karen Lange
Location:Kentucky
Age:45-54
Gender:female
Quality: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Value: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Meets Expectations: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Jessamine Brady tries to be a good Shaker. She really does, but she often misses the mark, as questions constantly tug at her. Obedience among believers at Harmony Hill is expected, and curiosity, particularly about the outside world, is discouraged. There are, after all, many dangers in 1849 to pull believers from the right path. Yet Jessamine aches for a glimpse of the forbidden life. Unable to quell her interest, she stretches for a peek, thinking it might satisfy her restless heart.
Tristan Cooper cannot remember his name, or why someone shot him in the woods near Harmony Hill. He does recall, however, the beautiful young woman who came to his rescue. While recovering at the Village, his memory returns, but he wrestles with a decision. Should he stay sequestered among the Shakers, or return to society and fulfill family responsibilities?
Jessamine’s and Tristan’s worlds collide in an unlikely way; neither can forget their encounter. Jessamine has nowhere else to go, and has resigned to a life with the believers. Tristan longs for a purpose of his own, but is obligated to his widowed mother. Both go through the motions of accepting the life set before them. Will they continue on the paths others have chosen for them? Or will they step out on to another?
Ann Gabhart stirs a strong combination of personalities in her latest Shaker adventure. The Gifted transports readers to a different world, one where secrets and surprises await. Jessamine’s rocky journey to find her purpose tests her limits and shows her who she really is.
This engaging story will entertain, challenge, and perhaps even pull at your heartstrings a bit. I love historical fiction, and in my opinion, Ann has it down pat. Her books deliver every time.
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Review 5 for The Gifted, Shaker Series #5
Overall Rating: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5

Fantastic

Date:July 31, 2012
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Anonymous
Location:Fond du Lac WI
Age:55-65
Gender:female
Quality: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Value: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Meets Expectations: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
"THE GIFTED" is an Awesome read I have loved all of the shaker series, you not only get a education on the shakers but also you will enjoy so many Bible passages, I even found myself going to my Bible to read more of a certain passage, The Shakers are a very unusual group I would find it very hard to live like they had to. Even if you have not read any of the first books in this series you will be able to follow right along and I am sure you will really enjoy it, and once you get to the very last page you will want it to go on and on
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Review 6 for The Gifted, Shaker Series #5
Overall Rating: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5

sort of a slow read

Date:July 29, 2012
Customer Avatar
Linda
Age:45-54
Gender:female
Quality: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Value: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Meets Expectations: 
3 out of 5
3 out of 5
The Gifted – Ann H. Gabhart
About the Book:
Some dreams were meant to come true.
Jessamine Brady has been in the Shaker Village for half her young life, but in spite of how she loves her sisters there, she struggles to conform to the strict rules. Instead she entertains dreams of the world outside. When Tristan Cooper seems to step out of those dreams to entice her into the forbidden realm beyond the Shaker Village, her life turns upside down.
Will Jessamine be able to survive the storms of the world? Or will she retreat back to the peace of Harmony Hill?
My Review:
It’s true, books can take you to places you’ve never been to, along with introducing you to cultures you rarely hear about. ‘The Gifted’ offers a glimpse of a Shaker village in 1849. This is a slow paced read, probably by design to match the simple lifestyle of the Shakers. However, the Shaker way is contrasted by that of ‘the world’ outside the village through Jessemine’s life before she came to the Shakers, and White Oak Springs, the place Jessemine is always dreaming about. I would have liked to see more dialogue throughout the book and get to know the characters better through their conversation. For me, dialogue also makes for a more enjoyable read and helps draw me into the story from the first chapter on. It took over a third of this book to really get into the story.
Sister Sophrena is one of my favourite characters and I found it interesting that the author chose to reveal her heart through her journal entries. Very effective and touching, at the same time, gave this story depth. Jessemine is an endearing character who sometimes reminded me of Maria in ‘Sounds of Music’. Both had their sisters wondering what should be done to help them conform to their respective communities.
"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.
Available at your favourite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group".
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Review 7 for The Gifted, Shaker Series #5
Overall Rating: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5

Fascinating story

Date:July 19, 2012
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Annie
Location:Oregon
Gender:female
Quality: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Value: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Meets Expectations: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
“Torn between duty and desire” is a hackneyed phrase, but there’s nothing hackneyed about Ann Gabhart’s newest Shaker novel, The Gifted. The compelling plot had me reading until I could no longer hold my eyes open.
Jessamine Brady has lived in a Shaker village since she was ten years old. She embraces their beliefs and ways of love, but as she approaches twenty-one, the age of decision, she longs to learn more about the world before she turns her back on it forever. Shakers believe in duty to God and one another, with no room for imagining or flights of fancy. Unfortunately, Jessamine’s mind is often filled with both.
When she and another Shaker sister find Tristan Cooper wounded in the woods near their village, Jessamine helps him onto his horse and the two girls take him to a doctor in the village. As he recuperates, Tristan is intrigued by Jessamine, the beautiful girl with the cornflower blue eyes. However, the time comes for him to return to his obligations in the world.
The conflict that fills both Jessamine and Tristan’s hearts makes for an absorbing story. They both have good reasons to remain apart forever. To say more would spoil the plot.
I enjoyed all the details about life in a Shaker village. Ann Gabhart is respectful and accurate in her recounting of a religious group that flowered in the mid-nineteenth century.
The Gifted is a book I’m happy to recommend.
My thanks to Revell for providing my review copy.
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Review 8 for The Gifted, Shaker Series #5
Overall Rating: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5

Things to think on

Date:July 15, 2012
Customer Avatar
Faye
Age:Under 18
Gender:female
Quality: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Value: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Meets Expectations: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
A book that comes with food for thought.
Jessamine is a young Shaker woman, who has seen little of the world outside the Shaker's little sect. She cannot help but question the many rules that she is forced to obey. Her thirst for knowledge of the world grows, and one day she happens upon a wounded young man in the forest. Will Jessamine stay with the gentle Shakers, or will she go into the outside world?
The Gifted is a fascinating tale, from which I learned so much about the Shakers. I had thought I knew a little about them when I began this book, but as I kept reading, I found out how little I actually knew! Though this was a sort of gentle story, it really gave me things to think about, and I couldn't help but feel terribly sad for the Shakers because they honestly believed that what they ascribed to, was the truth.
This book had a gentle pace to it, which I think was great to really get a feel for the simple Shaker way of life. Jessamine was a delightful character, and I loved watching her grow, and her curious spirit was refreshing. I really enjoyed being able to read about what was going on with Tristan and getting to see his side of his entanglement. I think the characters were well developed, but in a way different than I am used to which was actually really nice, because I felt more like I was watching them and I wasn't as able to make snap judgements about the characters, which I liked :)
Overall, this book had a nice gentle pace to it, that at times felt like it could have been faster, but definitely gave me things to think about! This is my first time reading anything from Ms. Gabhart's Shaker series, (and this one was quite stand-alone) and I can tell you that I will definitely be reading more! I enjoyed reading about Jessamine's journey, which could be described as Jessamine finding where she belonged, and also finding bits of herself. A lovely read.
I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!
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Review 9 for The Gifted, Shaker Series #5
This review is fromGifted, The: A Novel - eBook.
Overall Rating: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5

The Gifted

Date:August 27, 2012
Customer Avatar
MaureenT
Location:Syracuse NY
Gender:female
Quality: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Value: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Meets Expectations: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Ann H. Gabhart has again gifted us with another book about living with the Shakers. When I read about their lives, the work ethic is marvelous, but the idea of living without married love is not for me.
Young Jassamine Brady has lived with the Shakers since before she turned 10 years of age. She had been living with her Grandmother in the Mountains, and became a God loving free spirit. Now she has a hard time keeping fairy tales out of her mind, and just living the Shaker life.
She actually made me think Maria in the "Sound of Music".
You will wonder how such a "free" spirit can stay a Shaker. She is under the watchful eyes all the time of the elders...can you imagine peep holes?
The story begins when she wants to find out about parasols?? Huh! That is what Sister Annie thinks as she drags her through the woods and countryside looking for...um raspberries!
This is where the adventure begins, and life will never be the same. This is the third of the four books in this series that I have read. I also learn quite a bit of history reading these books. Don't miss this enjoyable book about a past segment of American life.
I received this book through Net Galley, and the Publisher Revell, and was not required to give a positive review.
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Review 10 for The Gifted, Shaker Series #5
Overall Rating: 
3 out of 5
3 out of 5

Contains an air of authenticity

Date:July 8, 2012
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Christianfictionaddiction
Quality: 
3 out of 5
3 out of 5
Value: 
3 out of 5
3 out of 5
Meets Expectations: 
3 out of 5
3 out of 5
The Gifted is a book that called to me to be read, because never before have I read a novel about the Shakers - and their beliefs are fascinating indeed! It is clear that Gabhart has done careful research into their simple ways of living, their beliefs against the "sin" of marriage, their manner of speech and dress. The novels has an air of authenticity, and I felt like I had been immersed back into time and truly entered a Shaker village. Jessamine's character is an original one, with her free nature constraining against the numerous rules of the Shaker community, her curious moments of wondering leading her into one predicament after another! Her longings to know a father's love and also to experience the romance that grows between a man and a woman both make for interesting story lines in a wonderful historical setting. My only fault with the book is that I felt that after the initial chapters, the book seemed to slow down quite a bit for the fist half, with a number of the chapters spent mostly in the memories or past of the characters without much action to move them forward. Consequently, I found this to be a less interesting read than Gabhart's last book, Words Spoken True, a book that I gave a very high rating.
Still, while I myself have not had the pleasure of reading Gabhart's previous Shaker novels, I have no doubt that fans of her prior books will find this a delightful read. The last part of the book moved along quickly, containing plenty of action-packed drama, romance, and a wonderful conclusion. The beliefs of the Shakers, misguided as they are, also contain an attractive call to simpler living. Their beliefs make an interesting backdrop for this story, providing a contrast that proves God's true plans for our lives to be all the sweeter indeed.
I give this book a rating of 3.5 stars.
Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.
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Review 11 for The Gifted, Shaker Series #5
Overall Rating: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5

5th in Shaker series isn't as strong as others

Date:July 8, 2012
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Anonymous
Location:Oconto Falls, WI
Age:35-44
Gender:female
Quality: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Value: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Meets Expectations: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
The Gifted by Ann Gabhart is the fifth book in her popular Shaker series about the unusual religious group of the 19th century. Jessamine Brady is a true innocent in the world. The first half of her of life was spent living with her granny, isolated in the woods and listening to the old woman's fairy tales and stories about the Lord. The last half of her life has been spent among the Shakers. When Jessamine was just ten, her granny died, leaving her alone in the world, so she was taken in by the community. She loves working with her hands and worshiping the Lord, but poor Jessamine has never been able to completely follow all of the rules as set forth by the Shakers. She has stories and songs that fill her heart, but are forbidden as sinful, and she has a deep curiousity about the outside world, especially on this one day, parasols, which leads her deeper and deeper into the woods, hoping to encounter White Oak Springs, a fashionable spa where the ladies are known to carry them. Instead of seeing a parasol, Jessamine finds a man who appears to have fallen off of his horse after being shot at. He claims to have no memory of who he is, and Jessamine can't quite seem to keep her hand from touching his face and enjoying the feel of the stubble on his face. Tristan Cooper did indeed lose his memory at first and thought he had been discovered by an angel. Later when his memory returns, he decides to keep that knowledge hidden while he recovers in the Shaker community in order to find out just who would be shooting at him and why. Tristan and Jessamine can't seem to stop thinking about each other, so she is soon in trouble with the elders for breaking too many rules, and he is sent on his way back to the world. Gabhart is terrific at recreating the mysterious world and religion of the Shakers, and she manages to do so without being overly negative about some of their stranger practices. Jessamine is such an innocent that everyone (including readers) who meet her can't help but be drawn to her sweet nature and love of life. Tristan is more of a cipher, despite Gabhart's attempts, I couldn't quite get a grasp of just who he was, and I felt the same way about Sheldon Brady. Because I couldn't relate to either of them, this book didn't have the power for me of previous books in this series. Something was missing just a bit in this volume, so it isn't up the five star status of the other books, but it's still a fascinating read.
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Review 12 for The Gifted, Shaker Series #5
Overall Rating: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5

GREAT HISTORICAL FICTION

Date:July 7, 2012
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THE SELF TAUGHT COOK
Location:DAVENPORT, FL
Age:45-54
Gender:female
Quality: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Value: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Meets Expectations: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Jessamine was left with Granny when her mother died soon after childbirth. Raised the first ten years of her life in a secluded cabin in the woods, she was taken to the Shakers at Harmony Hill when Granny stopped breathing one day. At the beginning of the novel, she has been with them for nine years absorbing their teaching, but as she approaches the time to sign her Covenant, she has more questions of which the Shakers do not approve.
When she finds an injured man and brings him back to Harmony Hill for his wounds to be treated, she can't stop thinking about the handsome stranger. His presence only adds to her confusion regarding the teachings she has received. When he leaves the community, she thinks she will never see him again. But when Sister Sophrena finds the letter that was meant to be given to Jessamine on her 12th birthday, everything begins to change. Soon, Jessamine has to make a choice between the quiet, simple Shaker community and the world in which she has never lived.
When this novel came up for review, I practically jumped through the laptop trying to get it. I have been fascinated by the Shakers ever since my childhood in Kentucky when we visited the Shaker Village at South Union. The market has not been flooded with fictional novels about the Shakers as it has been with the Amish, so this was exciting news. This was the first of Ms. Gabhart's novels that I have had the chance to read, but I loved it. Her knowledge of the Shakers is phenomenal. Occasionally the dialogue seemed a little uneven and stilted, but then again, 9 years with the Shakers might have caused a person to sound like that. It was a very well written novel and I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who enjoys historical fiction or has enjoyed the Amish fiction but needs a break from that subject.
4 very happy stars
“Available July 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.”
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Revell. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.
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Review 13 for The Gifted, Shaker Series #5
Overall Rating: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5

Another Great Shaker Novel

Date:July 7, 2012
Customer Avatar
In The Hammock Blog
Quality: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Value: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Meets Expectations: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
I always enjoy Ann H. Gabhart's Shaker novels, and this one is no exception. I may have liked this one even more than the others that I have read previously.
Jessamine was a great heroine, she definitely had her own mind even though she lived in the restricted Shaker community. I think this was very realistic because the Shaker lifestyle did have a lot of positives and benefits, which Jessamine acknowledged and appreciated. The Shakers took her in when she was only 10 and her grandmother passed away. Since then, she always had a great home, a roof over her head, and meals on the table. However, there were many drawbacks and restrictions to their lifestyle which she felt stifled her personal freedom. I think Jessamine's story could be a lot of real-life Shaker's stories.
I feel like the author explained the Shaker beliefs a lot more in this book than in her other novels. It really enriched the setting and helped me learn more about the Shakers and how they lived.
Book sent by publisher in exchange for honest review.
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Review 14 for The Gifted, Shaker Series #5
Overall Rating: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5

Date:July 5, 2012
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sunny island breezes
Location:a sunny island
Quality: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Value: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Meets Expectations: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
I always enjoy Ann H. Gabhart’s Shaker books , and this one is no exception. These books just seem to gt better and better.
Jessamine really tries, but she just doesn’t fit the mold. She became part of the Shaker community as a young girl, and just don’t let go of the memories of her life outside.
Her gift with words and the creating of stories just doesn’t belong as part of a Shaker’s life, but it’s part of who she is.
When she finds an injured young man in the woods, she manages to get him back to the Shakers who tend his injuries. At the same time she becomes drawn to him and through him, the outside world.
Through a quirk of fate, Jessamine is thrown into that outside world. She encounters difficulties conforming to that world. In the end she must decide to remain or return to the Shakers as she watches the man she loves commit himself to another.
Get those tissues ready.
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Review 15 for The Gifted, Shaker Series #5
Overall Rating: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5

Similar to Amish, but very different theologically

Date:July 4, 2012
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Julieanne Miller
Location:Oregon
Age:35-44
Gender:female
Quality: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Value: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Meets Expectations: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
How would it feel to be kissed, Jessamine can't help but wonder. She has been brought up in the Shaker community since her great grandmother died when she was ten, and the community does not allow marriage or any contact between men and women. Ann Gabhart has written another intriguing book, The Gifted, about just this situation. Jessamine is happy in the community, but there is a desire to know what it would be like to be kissed.
The Shaker community is a safe place; the rules are strict, and life is structured. Jessamine has heard about parasols from an other young woman and is very curious to see what they are. When she and another girl from the community go out into the woods to pick berries, they wander farther than they should to see this wondrous thing. They find a man who has been wounded and take him back to their community to be healed. Yes, love though forbidden, is in the air. How this situation works out makes a different and entertaining read.
I enjoyed this book, but was more than a little disturbed by the frequent references to the cult's founder, Mother Ann, as an equal to God, to be prayed to, and her rules were to be obeyed without question. For me, this rather spoiled an otherwise entertaining story.
However, there are at least two ways of looking at the references in this book to the Shakers' cult founder, Mother Ann. The first viewpoint, expressed above, is that praying to Mother Ann and God is blasphemy and that the author is intending on encouraging the reader to embrace the Shaker traditions and beliefs. A second viewpoint of this is that the author is merely alerting us to the deceptive methods that cults have of encouraging their members to believe in concepts that are contrary to the Bible.
I believe the author, Ann Gabhart, is showing us an insight into the Shaker culture and community, without encouraging the reader to hold to those same beliefs, but our reviewer today felt otherwise, and it made her very uncomfortable. I don't hold to the Shaker beliefs, and am a firm believer in Jesus Christ alone - without Mother Ann! I didn't feel uncomfortable reading books in this series. Each reader will need to be alert to these unscriptural references to a falsely lifted up human being in this series of books.
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Review 16 for The Gifted, Shaker Series #5
Overall Rating: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5

Authentically researched storyline

Date:July 2, 2012
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Vera
Location:North Carolina
Age:Over 65
Gender:female
Quality: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Value: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Meets Expectations: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
This is my first encounter with a novel based on Shaker life. The Shakers like the Amish hold a fascination with folks today because their beliefs and life styles are so vastly different from that which we are accustomed. I was vaguely familiar with the beliefs of the Shakers and their strict separation of men and women. But this book with it's authentically researched storyline was a true eye opener.
I found it difficult to read because of my feelings that it was just so wrong for people to give themselves so completely and without reservation to the Shaker belief system and life. It is little wonder to me that the Shaker beliefs and communities have died out. Now about this book.....
Jessamine Brady was taken to the Shaker village of Harmony Hill when she was but 10 years old because there was no where else for her to go and no one to care for her. She was well cared for and taught the Shaker religious beliefs and way of life by the senior Sisters. She struggled with memories of stories (make believe) that her Grandmother had told her and dreams of life outside of the Shaker village. However, ­make believe was a sin as was any thought of the outside world. Shaker community life consisted of work, prayer, food (in silence), sleep, and worship. Nothing else was allowed.
Their worship consisted of learned dance steps that they did as a group basically separated - men on one side of the room and women on the other. Stomping, fainting, whirling.
Jessamine was out in the woods with another Sister picking berries when they heard a gun and investigated. They found a man from the outside world unconscious and with a head wound. They took him back to Harmony Hill for care. Thus Tristan Cooper enters the scene. This opens the door to Jessamine to the outside world and the dreams from her past.
The book is lengthy (431 pages) and the internal struggles of Jessamine and descriptions of Shaker life are extensive. To me it was sad. I appreciated the dedication of the Shakers to their faith, but it was depressive to see such repression of thinking, expression, care. There was actually evil contention (in my opinion) by Sisters against Jessamine for perceived sins.
Jessamine does get a taste of the world and the impact on her is difficult. She sees worldly beauty, but she also gets to thoroughly enjoy the birds singing and the beauty of flowers and woods and clouds and sky - a sin to enjoy such in the Shaker community.
Her heart is touched with emotions for Tristan that in Shaker life she must repress, but in the world she does not need to repress as a sin. Will she be able to conform for a lifetime of Shaker life and its separation from the world or will she embrace her heart's feelings and be able to live in the World?
I enjoyed the book and the tender story. I would recommend the book to anyone who desires a sweet story, an authentically research insight into Shaker life and beliefs, and a well-written book.
Information about Shakers: http://www.shakerworkshops.com/resources/who-are-the-shakers
About the author: Ann H. Gabhart lived near a restored Shaker village in Kentucky and has thoroughly research the material for this book in her Shaker life series.
DISCLOSURE: I was provide a complimentary copy of "The Gift" by Ann H. Gabart and Revell a division of Baker Publishing Group for the purpose of rendering my honest review and opinion. No compensation was given.
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