About the Book:
It is 1844 and Lacey Bishop's life is a tangled mess. Estranged from her own family, at age 16 she went to work for a preacher and his wife. When his wife died, the preacher convinced Lacey that the only decent thing to do was to marry him. That way she could continue to act as mother to the little girl who was left on his doorstop. But Lacey never expected he would decide to take them all off to a Shaker village. There she's still married but living in a community that believes marriage is a sin. And to make matters worse, she finds herself drawn to Isaac Kingston, a man who came to the Shakers after his young bride died. But of course any notion of love between them is only a forbidden dream. How will Lacey ever find true happiness?
It is a romance novel and it is set in a celibate community. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that they are going to end up leaving; the only question is how they are going to manage it.
I found a lot of the details about the Shaker lifestyle to be interesting. Today we'd call them a cult and accuse them of brainwashing people. The people of their time found them strange as well. Ann Gabhart does not portray the Shakers in a favorable light--the leaders are controlling and petty, the rules numerous and the spiritual experiences of at least one woman, fake. Still, there must have been something attractive about that lifestyle for it to have lasted as long as it did and attract as many followers as it did.
The Blessed is an easy engaging read about a fascinating people. Grade: B.