Arabella Newberry was not only fleeing the life of the Shakers, she was leaving her father behind her. Her father had forced his wife and daughter, Bella, to join a shaker community when Bella was 14 years old. Bella’s mother died a couple of years later of a broken heart.
Though she loved God, Bella could not embrace the Shaker doctrine that forces families to be separated and live as though they were not family at all.
Bella went to work for a new textile factory in Lowell, MA. The year was 1831, and New England was becoming industrialized. Young ladies were leaving their farm homes to work in factories. They lived in boarding houses owned by the factories.
I am not sure if the author intended, but I see many similarities between the life Bella left at the Shaker community and her new life working for the factory. The men’s and women’s boarding houses were separate…just like the Shaker community. There was a bell that woke everyone at the same time to begin their day of labor…just like the Shaker community.
The story is interesting in that we get an insight into the early industrial age. However, there really is not much of a plot. There is a love story, of course, and we see Bella as she learns to trust God again…and even men. All in all I found the book a little tedious to read.