The Visionist by Rachel Urquhart
A Novel

80%

5 Critic Reviews

The true virtue of this story is the meditative consideration of the value of hardship and the transformative nature of ecstasy. Like Marilynne Robinson’s “Gilead” and Edward P. Jones’s “The Known World,” “The Visionist” aspires to illuminate our understanding of faith, resilience, shame and forgiveness.
-NY Times

Synopsis

An enthralling first novel about a teenage girl who finds refuge--but perhaps not--in an 1840s Shaker community.


After 15-year-old Polly Kimball sets fire to the family farm, killing her abusive father, she and her young brother find shelter in a Massachusetts Shaker community called the City of Hope. It is the Era of Manifestations, when young girls in Shaker enclaves all across the Northeast are experiencing extraordinary mystical visions, earning them the honorific of "Visionist" and bringing renown to their settlements.

The City of Hope has not yet been blessed with a Visionist, but that changes when Polly arrives and is unexpectedly exalted. As she struggles to keep her dark secrets concealed in the face of increasing scrutiny, Polly finds herself in a life-changing friendship with a young Shaker sister named Charity, a girl who will stake everything--even her faith--on Polly's honesty and purity.
 

About Rachel Urquhart

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Rachel Urquhart is a former writer and editor at Spy, Vogue, and Allure magazines. Her nonfiction has appeared in The New Yorker, the New York Times, Tin House, Elle, GQ, Harper's Bazaar, Food & Wine, Travel & Leisure, and Vanity Fair. She received her MFA in Fiction from Sarah Lawrence College and lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two sons.
 
Published January 14, 2014 by Little, Brown and Company. 353 pages
Genres: History, Religion & Spirituality, Horror, Literature & Fiction, Science Fiction & Fantasy. Fiction
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Critic reviews for The Visionist
All: 5 | Positive: 5 | Negative: 0

NY Times

Good
Reviewed by AMBER DERMONT on Jan 24 2014

The true virtue of this story is the meditative consideration of the value of hardship and the transformative nature of ecstasy. Like Marilynne Robinson’s “Gilead” and Edward P. Jones’s “The Known World,” “The Visionist” aspires to illuminate our understanding of faith, resilience, shame and forgiveness.

Read Full Review of The Visionist: A Novel | See more reviews from NY Times

Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Claire Hazelton on Nov 07 2014

The Shaker community – rigid with rules and boundaries – is portrayed with sensitivity and understanding, as is the lasting trauma and shame resulting from sexual abuse. Despite being ripe with suffering and pain, The Visionist manages to be entertaining, passionate and hopeful.

Read Full Review of The Visionist: A Novel | See more reviews from Guardian

NY Journal of Books

Good
Reviewed by Doris R. Meredith on Jan 06 2014

A debut novel that exhibits none of the awkwardness of plot, character, or narrative sometimes found in first novels, The Visionist by Rachel Urquhart is a literary achievement one might expect from a writer with an extensive blacklist of published works, not a novice at the craft of book-length fiction.

Read Full Review of The Visionist: A Novel | See more reviews from NY Journal of Books

WSJ online

Above average
Reviewed by MOIRA HODGSON on Jan 24 2014

Despite the dimming light of late afternoon, a clean, white-painted house bustled with the comings and goings of oddly dressed men and women...In a painstakingly researched novel framed by a suspenseful plot, Ms. Urquhart gives the reader an intriguing glimpse behind these doors.

Read Full Review of The Visionist: A Novel | See more reviews from WSJ online

NPR

Good
Reviewed by Jane Ciabattari on Jan 14 2014

...in the course of her lyrically written tale, she offers a fresh view of this mysterious religious sect.

Read Full Review of The Visionist: A Novel | See more reviews from NPR

Reader Rating for The Visionist
78%

An aggregated and normalized score based on 150 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes


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