Coralie Hughes Jensen
Five Stars, Jul 15 2010, $25.95
In 1838 Marcus Hammond informs his five children while his wife silently watches that they must move to Western Ohio to start over. He will leave behind his youngest daughter eight year old Lucy with the United Society of Believers in their Shaker community at Hancock and hopes to place temporarily his two other daughters. He promises to reunite the family as soon as he can.
Over the next five years Lucy diligently tries to fit in with the religious order. However, everything changes when thirteen years old heiress Sarah Bishop is indentured to the order when her father died. Sister Sarah is a free spirit who brings out the rebellious nature of Sister Lucy as the newcomer says she has her inheritance waiting for her and not the Shakers. Over, the next few years as Sister Lucy shows gardening and math skills, Sister Sarah teaches her how naive she has been with the holiness of those who claim adherence to the scripture of Mother Ann.
Although there is a late mystery and romance that add suspense and enables closure of a sort, Winter Harvest is more a historical fiction novel that looks deep into the culture and community world of the Shakers two decades before the Civil War. The fascinating story line focuses predominately on the teen girls who through them the reader sees how the adults at Hancock behaved (and not) and somewhat on the boys; especially those the girls are interested in like Brother Seth. Coralie Hughes Jensen provides a wonderful early nineteenth century Americana.