The Visionist by Rachel Urquhart

The-visionist-ukI walked in to the library earlier this week and The Visionist by Rachel Urquhart leaped out at me, calling my name. I remember a few months back this was making the rounds on some of my favorite blogs and getting good reviews. It’s set in the Shaker community and deals with questions of belief. If that’s not up my alley, then I don’t know what is. So it seemed fated that I read it.

And read it I did, but did i like it? This is a difficult question. The one thing that was holding me back from reading it before was the time period it’s set in. I don’t really like historical fiction and out of all historical fiction I really don’t like frontier stories set in the 1800s. While not exactly a frontier story, The Visionist was close enough to raise my shackles a little.

So with that being said, it is clear that I probably didn’t like the book as much as Catherine at The Gilmore Guide to Books, but I did really like parts of it. The setting inside a Shaker community was fascinating. And I liked the way the story was told from the perspective of three different characters: Charity who was raise in the Shaker community, Polly who comes to the community in the course of the book and Simon a complete outsider.

Who would like this book? It is clear that this book will appeal to those with an interest in different religious communities. That is what drew me to the book and that is what i liked about it. Though I did not like it as much as Amity and Sorrow by Peggy Riley (review), I would still recommend The Visionist to those who enjoyed Amity and Sorrow. Because of the setting of The Visionist it also reminded me of The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff, which depicts an early Mormon community.


  1. I enjoyed this, but I think you’re right that it wasn’t as good as Amity & Sorrow (though they shared quite a few similarities). Looking back, I’m having a hard time remembering as many details about it, which isn’t a very good sign.

  2. Thanks for the mention! I loved both the Visionist and Amity and Sorrow but could see how someone would like A&S better. Visionist had some issues towards the end- as if the story got out of the author’s hands. But both are a fascinating look at religion- on the surface and beneath.

  3. Liked review and am drawn to the book for two reasons – I really liked the 19th Wife (except for what I thought was a bit of a poor ending) and I notice The Visionist cover has quote from Eowyn Ivey – and I absolutely loved The Snow Child! Will look out for this

  4. Hmm, I wasn’t a fan of Amity & Sorrow (I didn’t finish it), so I’m not sure if this is the book for me. I’m usually interested in books that have a religious aspect, but I’m not super intrigued by the setting of this one.

  5. Pingback: July Round Up | 52 books or bust

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