I was happy to win this book as a GoodReads First Read because I love Christmas stories, and the idea of it being a Shaker story intrigued me. I haveI was happy to win this book as a GoodReads First Read because I love Christmas stories, and the idea of it being a Shaker story intrigued me. I have to say I was disappointed to find that the Shaker community at Harmony Hill depicted in Ann Gabhart's book seemed full of unpleasant and self-righteous characters.
There is much to admire in the Shaker's industry, their inventiveness, their practical and aesthetic designs for everyday objects, and their equality of community life at a time when most women's rights were non-existent in America. They cared for orphans whom no one else would take in, and allowed them the choice of staying with the Shaker community or leaving when they reached their majority. Their communal celibate life was based on monastic and conventual ideals. My studies and encounter with one of the few living remainders of these communities a number of years ago left me with a positive attitude towards them. Not much of this comes through in this book.
In Christmas at Harmony Hill Heather, the prodigal daughter who is cast off by her father when she defies him to marry a Union soldier, joins his Union regiment as a washerwoman. As the Christmas of 1864 approaches, and she can no longer do the work, her husband sends her home to her mother. But her mother is dead and her father blames her for the death of her older brother Simon, fighting for the Rebels. Her sister slips Heather a letter from her mother sending her to Harmony Hill to her Aunt Sophrena for shelter. But Sister Sophrena is having her own crisis of faith. Although the Shaker community takes in Heather providing her with a roof over her head, food, medical care and warmth, Heather's greatest fear is that they will remove her child from her when he is born even if she can't accept their way of life. Somehow the Shakers come off as the villains of the piece, but no one really comes off well here, if you ask me. But by the end of story, a baby is born, much Scripture is quoted and Sophrena's problem is solved.
If you're a fan of Amish romances I'm sure you'll enjoy it. Definitely not my cup of tea, though....more
What if God got bored with the human race and decided to destroy the world, and take up something really interesting, like opening a new restaurant? WWhat if God got bored with the human race and decided to destroy the world, and take up something really interesting, like opening a new restaurant? When Craig, an Angel in the Miracles Department at Heaven, Inc. gets the memo announcing the CEO's decision, he's upset enough to confront God about it. He succeeds in getting God to take a bet; if Craig can answer just one prayer in the next thirty days, God won't end the world. But there's a condition: God insists on knowing what the prayer will be in advance. With help from the newest Angel in Miracles, Eliza, Craig chooses a set of prayers from two young New Yorkers who want to be together. Easy, right? With such a pair of socially awkward humans as Sam and Laura, the angelic pair are going to have to pull every miracle at their disposal to make it happen, if they can...
A fast, amusing read, but one that still gives you pause to think, What if...? A nice surprise to find some substance behind the entertainment in this First Reads giveaway. I'm glad I won it....more