Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A Clearing in the Wild by Jane Kirkpatrick ~ review

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: WaterBrook Press; 1ST edition (April 18, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1578567343
  • ISBN-13: 978-1578567348

This book is also available as an e-book

April 18, 2006

Young Emma Wagner chafes at the constraints of Bethel colony, an 1850s religious community in Missouri that is determined to remain untainted by the concerns of the world. A passionate and independent thinker, she resents the limitations placed on women, who are expected to serve in quiet submission. In a community where dissent of any form is discouraged, Emma finds it difficult to rein in her tongue–and often doesn’t even try to do so, fueling the animosity between her and the colony’s charismatic and increasingly autocratic leader, Wilhelm Keil.

Eventually Emma and her husband, Christian, are sent along with eight other men to scout out a new location in the northwest where the Bethelites can prepare to await “the last days.” Christian believes they’ve found the ideal situation in Washington territory, but when Keil arrives with the rest of the community, he rejects Christian’s choice in favor of moving to Oregon.

Emma pushes her husband to take this opportunity to break away from the group, but her longed-for influence brings unexpected consequences. As she seeks a refuge for her wounded faith, she learns that her passionate nature can be her greatest strength–if she can harness it effectively.

My take on this book:
This story takes place in the 1850's. Seventeen year old Emma Wagner lives in a colony called Bethel which is located in Shelby County Missouri. It's known as a peaceful place where the community lives in harmony while trying stay separate from worldly influences. It's a community where women are expected to be submissive and listen to their leader Wilhelm Keil, something that young Emma has trouble doing. She hopes to marry,and has her heart set on her fathers friend Christian Giesy, who is twenty years older than she is. When their leader Wilhelm Keil decides it's time to move the colony he sends a group out to find a new location, and Emma is part of that group. Will the colony find a new place to settle, and what secret is Emma keeping from her husband? 

I have been reading historical fiction for several years and I am not sure how I missed this series, but I am certainly glad that I found it and plan on reading the other two books in the Change and Cherish series.Emma's character is one that is easy to be drawn to. She is strong willed, something that is frowned upon in her community.The book really allows the reader to see how women were viewed during the time period. While the plot didn't move along at a brisk pace, the historical significance of the story held my attention. I thought the cast of characters that was included at the beginning of the story was very helpful by allowing me understand who everyone was. In "A Clearing in the Wild" Jane Kirkpatrick allows a realistic look at how living in a communal setting might have been. The fact that this book was based on a real person made it even better for me. Overall, a great historical read, that has me searching for the other two books in the series.

A complementary copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


  1. I like Jane's books, haven't read this series though. BTW, I love your background.

    1. Thanks JoyAnne for dropping by. I was actually surprised that I missed this entire series, but look forward to reading the other two books. Thanks so much for the compliment on the background, it sort of reminds me of the weather in my area.


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