Rated of 5
by avid (Springfield, IL)
This book just seemed way off to me. The historical context was a little shaky, as the book was set in a year when the Shakers may or may not have been a nascent presence in Maine, but surely had not had time to develop the reputation to outsiders that was depicted in the book, nor many of the traditions and organizational hierarchies referenced. Likewise, a pervasive reference to toothpicks being spit out and replaced was distracting, as disposable toothpicks were not invented until the 1830's, about 40 years after the setting in the book.
Historical context aside, I thought the author needlessly developed too many peripheral characters, creating confusion as to their significance. The conflict relating to the main character's sister's family being removed from the farm was never resolved (did they go quietly? did a fight ensue? was a relationship preserved or destroyed?), although the conflict was developed and referenced many times throughout the book.
The ending's social situation was predictable. The convoluted explanation of bloodlines really muddled the whodunit aspect. The plot never pulled me in or held me in suspense. I really had to force myself to finish.