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A Clearing in the Wild

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The first book in the Change and Cherish trilogy from the CBA bestseller and WILLA Literary Award Winner, Jane Kirkpatrick. 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 wome The first book in the Change and Cherish trilogy from the CBA bestseller and WILLA Literary Award Winner, Jane Kirkpatrick. 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.


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The first book in the Change and Cherish trilogy from the CBA bestseller and WILLA Literary Award Winner, Jane Kirkpatrick. 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 wome The first book in the Change and Cherish trilogy from the CBA bestseller and WILLA Literary Award Winner, Jane Kirkpatrick. 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.

30 review for A Clearing in the Wild

  1. 5 out of 5

    Auntie

    I will read anything Jane Kirkpatrick writes! This is the latest one that I've found. The author is very knowledgeable about the history of the Northwest, and by reading her stories I've become fully immersed in that history as well. Her characters have a spiritual life, and the challenges that they have to face are tied to spiritual decisions. It's worthwhile reading! This particular story takes on the issue of legalism in a small denomination, as well as the issue of a woman's submission to aut I will read anything Jane Kirkpatrick writes! This is the latest one that I've found. The author is very knowledgeable about the history of the Northwest, and by reading her stories I've become fully immersed in that history as well. Her characters have a spiritual life, and the challenges that they have to face are tied to spiritual decisions. It's worthwhile reading! This particular story takes on the issue of legalism in a small denomination, as well as the issue of a woman's submission to authority as found in a church leadership, or a marital relationship. Good exploration of these issues.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Joleen

    A Clearing in the Wild by Jane Kirkpatrick Year: 1850- Emma Wagner: 18 year old married to Christian Christian Giesy: Older man who caught Emma's eye Locations: Missouri to Washington territory Wilhelm Keil: Leader of the Bethelites Because of unrest in Missouri regarding their religion, Wilhelm Keil, leader of the Bethelites, decided to send relocation scouts to the Pacific Northwest to find a new place for their colony. Newly married to the handsome, much older Christian Giesy, Emma was unhappy that A Clearing in the Wild by Jane Kirkpatrick Year: 1850- Emma Wagner: 18 year old married to Christian Christian Giesy: Older man who caught Emma's eye Locations: Missouri to Washington territory Wilhelm Keil: Leader of the Bethelites Because of unrest in Missouri regarding their religion, Wilhelm Keil, leader of the Bethelites, decided to send relocation scouts to the Pacific Northwest to find a new place for their colony. Newly married to the handsome, much older Christian Giesy, Emma was unhappy that Christian was chosen to be one of those 6 scouts, leaving her behind for up to 2 years. Being impetuous, and telling no one that she's pregnant, Emma went behind her husband's back for permission to go with the scouts. Reluctantly Wilhelm gave permission, but at what cost? A bit of a synopsis: (view spoiler)[Once in Oregon, they were encouraged to go further north into Washington territory. Christian believed he found the perfect place to relocate the Bethelites, a place he's sure their leader will accept. Some men are sent back to be guides for the rest of the colony. The remaining scouts began clearing trees, using them to erect buildings. The weather was cold and wet, bringing sickness to the men working outside. Christian was such a kind loving man when he was courting Emma, but his personality seemed to switch after marriage. Her youth seemed to bother him suddenly, becoming abrupt, commanding, calling her dummkopf, etc. But she continued to be as helpful as she could, made suggestions or asked questions which were mostly rebuffed. Once in a while he was tender, but often not. He was driven as though he needed to prove himself to the leader (who Emma didn’t trust nor care for at all). Eventually several buildings were nearly finished when they were surprised by the early arrival of the leader and some of the colony. Wilhelm rejected the area Christian had chosen and was angry that much of the colony’s resources were used for a location so far north. The colony is divided, some stayed with Christian, some went with the only leader they’ve known for decades. (hide spoiler)] Personally, it seemed that Emma manipulated Christian because she had ideas that she wanted her husband to act on. She sweet-talked Christian with confidence-boosting discussions that made him feel like he could lead a new group, when all he wanted to do was submit to the leader he believed understood God’s will better. Her heart may have been in the right place, but it appeared conniving, like some women do to sway an unyielding husband. All in all it was a fascinating book. I didn’t know much about the Bethelites prior to reading this. I’m looking forward to more.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Joyce

    Library copy. I am loving this book. Love this style of writing. ~~ Forty pages to go ... oh my, what hardship this west coast pioneering compared to NH a century earlier! This book is the first in a series, which I am rather anxious to read. While the book stands alone, the story isn't finished, and leaves the reader hoping beyond hope that things turn brighter in the next two books, as they begin to at the end of this one. It is beyond me to critique a writer such as Jane Kirkpatrick. Her writi Library copy. I am loving this book. Love this style of writing. ~~ Forty pages to go ... oh my, what hardship this west coast pioneering compared to NH a century earlier! This book is the first in a series, which I am rather anxious to read. While the book stands alone, the story isn't finished, and leaves the reader hoping beyond hope that things turn brighter in the next two books, as they begin to at the end of this one. It is beyond me to critique a writer such as Jane Kirkpatrick. Her writing is as writing should be. It is not entertainment. It is thick. Thick enough to sink one's teeth into or to sink down into as in a feather comforter. Characters (good and bad), plot, language, description of the environment, matters of the heart, matters of faith, they are all there. When I stop to read a phrase or sentence aloud, just for the pure sound of the words; when I want to wring the neck of one of the characters even though they are fictitious; when I feel as though I am there; that is a five star rating. On top of all of this, the book is historical. The Bethelites were a real group of people, and much of the story is gleaned from historical records. The author who combines historical fact and fiction seamlessly is tops on my list. Thank you, Jane, for a superb book! I highly recommend this book, although for some it would appear dry. This is not a contemporary inspirational romance. It is a work of substance. I love it.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Toni

    This is the first book in Jane Kirkpatrick's Change & Cherish Historical series. What an outstanding book! The book centers on a young German woman, Emma, who is part of the Christian community from Bethel, Missouri in 1851 and recently married. The communities leader decides it is time for the colony to get away from all the outside influences and head west to the Oregon Territory. Emma travels with the scout party lead by her husband, Christian, who claim land just outside of the Willapa B This is the first book in Jane Kirkpatrick's Change & Cherish Historical series. What an outstanding book! The book centers on a young German woman, Emma, who is part of the Christian community from Bethel, Missouri in 1851 and recently married. The communities leader decides it is time for the colony to get away from all the outside influences and head west to the Oregon Territory. Emma travels with the scout party lead by her husband, Christian, who claim land just outside of the Willapa Bay in the Washington Territory. Not being accustomed to the weather of the Pacific Northwest the scout party has many hurdles to overcome. Emma's strong well, independence and supportive ways contribute to parties survival in this new land. For anyone who knows the Washington Coast area, whether it is the Long Beach Peninsula or the Willapa Bay area, know the beauty and grandeur of this area. There are still huge trees that take four grown men to encompass and you must crane your neck into the sky to see their tops. Just beautiful! One of my favorite places and to have this book set in this area made it just that more enjoyable for me.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Marianne

    Jane Kirpatrick sucessfully immerses herself and her reader into the 1853 era life of Emma Wagner in Bethel County, Missouri to Wallipa Bay, Washington. It is an amazing story based on a true account, and one I found fascinating. I found myself living Emma's life as I read, feeling the frustrations of living the suffocating life of a colony as a woman in those times, and the excitement of a way that seems more independent. This is a book that does not read as easily as a romance novel, (perhaps Jane Kirpatrick sucessfully immerses herself and her reader into the 1853 era life of Emma Wagner in Bethel County, Missouri to Wallipa Bay, Washington. It is an amazing story based on a true account, and one I found fascinating. I found myself living Emma's life as I read, feeling the frustrations of living the suffocating life of a colony as a woman in those times, and the excitement of a way that seems more independent. This is a book that does not read as easily as a romance novel, (perhaps because it is written in the first person point of view) but is captivating in its own way. Walking or riding side saddle on a horse across the nation from the east to the west in undeveloped, dangerous country, we see the world through the eyes of a young woman who has lived in a secluded colony with a domineering father, and many siblings, all of her life, seldom venturing out into the neighboring world. From an inexperienced girl to a mother who knows what she wants and mostly what is best for her family, we see the growth in Emma. Many mistakes and disappointments line the way,some of her own making, others inevitable, but in the end, she is victorious. I received this book free from Waterpress Multnomah Publshers through their Blogging For Books program for the purpose of writing an honest review. A postive critique was not required. The opinions stated are my own.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Alice

    Historical fiction based on the true account of a religious community that moved from Bethel, Missouri to Oregon in the 1850s. The book attempts to be more than a "prairie romance". Every character has been documented by the author and researched through diaries and interviews with with family members. Due to the current interest in the consequences of living in a slightly repressive religious "utopia" led by an autocratic leader, I found this part of the book more compelling than I would have a Historical fiction based on the true account of a religious community that moved from Bethel, Missouri to Oregon in the 1850s. The book attempts to be more than a "prairie romance". Every character has been documented by the author and researched through diaries and interviews with with family members. Due to the current interest in the consequences of living in a slightly repressive religious "utopia" led by an autocratic leader, I found this part of the book more compelling than I would have at this time last year. There are even discussion questions included that would make for an interesting book club. Examples: How would you characterize the role of women within the Bethel Colony? What changes occurred in Willapa Valley [the Oregon colony] that redefined the role of women there? This is book 1 in a series, and while I don't know if I have enough interest in the topic to continue the series, I respect the author's attempt to chronicle an interesting historical period.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Margaret Chind

    Finally. This was the most boring book I have ever read. It has taken me three weeks, because it was just so blah. I was excited about the idea behind the book, but nothing happens minus two scenes. The rest of the book is about the main character deceiving others and then trying to find her way in understanding who God is and what she is really suppose to do in life. It might make a good DRAMA movie, but definitely just no life in it to make it an enthralling book. I don't think I'll pick up th Finally. This was the most boring book I have ever read. It has taken me three weeks, because it was just so blah. I was excited about the idea behind the book, but nothing happens minus two scenes. The rest of the book is about the main character deceiving others and then trying to find her way in understanding who God is and what she is really suppose to do in life. It might make a good DRAMA movie, but definitely just no life in it to make it an enthralling book. I don't think I'll pick up this author again, unless I just hear some wonderful things. Now I can go to the other 20 books checked out from the library that have been waiting patiently!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Grandma

    Excellent story about the Oregon Trail and a woman of independent ideas and courage to be her own person.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Debbie

    A Clearing in the Wild receives 3 stars from me.At times I wanted to keep reading and at others times I wanted to quit reading this book, but I am glad I finished it and even want to read the next book in this series. A Clearing in the Wild is the first book in the Change and Cherish Historical Series. A Clearing in the Wild is based on actual people and events. It is written from Emma's view of her life and the changes she must make in order to insure her and her family survival and happiness. E A Clearing in the Wild receives 3 stars from me.At times I wanted to keep reading and at others times I wanted to quit reading this book, but I am glad I finished it and even want to read the next book in this series. A Clearing in the Wild is the first book in the Change and Cherish Historical Series. A Clearing in the Wild is based on actual people and events. It is written from Emma's view of her life and the changes she must make in order to insure her and her family survival and happiness. Emma is a young woman who is part of the Bethel colony,ruled by Wilhelm Keil. Emma doesn't have complete and blind trust in Kiel. Keil tries his best to keep Emma and her husband Christian apart by sending Christian and other scouts out to find her land for their colony. Emma is finally allowed to travel with the scouts and she learns to use her questions and doubts. Emma is courageous and she wasn't afraid to break a few rules to help her family and the other members of the colony. When they find a land, Kiel rejects it and Emma finds a new way to keep her family and the others who want to stay there a way. That way is how the book ends and that is why I want to read the second book in this series. “I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review”.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Marcia DeHaven

    Oh man, this book was really full of detail about the incredible hard life of the settlers on the West Coast of California and Oregon in the 1850s. All along I kept hearing my brain protest "I could never have done that" !! I truly don't think I could have survived the winters there. Even the thought of living there now certainly would have its challenges. The family members also offered many challenges and I can't say I liked them all that much. This is a true story. I looked up Emma the main c Oh man, this book was really full of detail about the incredible hard life of the settlers on the West Coast of California and Oregon in the 1850s. All along I kept hearing my brain protest "I could never have done that" !! I truly don't think I could have survived the winters there. Even the thought of living there now certainly would have its challenges. The family members also offered many challenges and I can't say I liked them all that much. This is a true story. I looked up Emma the main character in the 1860 U.S. Census and there she was in that wilderness. The census writer's handwriting was clear as could be. That was so amazing to me. I have spent innumerable hours, days and probably weeks looking through New York's census and it's incredible how jumbled and garbled they are. But every ten years I found Emma on the census living in the Northwest until her last census.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Bonnie

    For the first quarter of this book I wasn't at all sure I liked it. Mostly I didn't like the two main male characters, "The Leader" and the main character, Emma's husband. Both of them were so demeaning toward women and the husband Christian was so totally under the leader's thumb. But as the book progressed I got more interested in the story and now I'm anxious to read the next novel in this series. Another reason I am interested is because it's based on the history of the state of Washington, For the first quarter of this book I wasn't at all sure I liked it. Mostly I didn't like the two main male characters, "The Leader" and the main character, Emma's husband. Both of them were so demeaning toward women and the husband Christian was so totally under the leader's thumb. But as the book progressed I got more interested in the story and now I'm anxious to read the next novel in this series. Another reason I am interested is because it's based on the history of the state of Washington, where I live.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Gerald Curtis

    While I did not care for the first book I read by this author (A Daughter's Walk), I am glad I gave her another try, because I really liked this book. It not only told a great story about serious conflicts of character and a pioneer woman standing up for her rights, but also gave a good historical perspective of what it might have been like to go west and try to create a settlement in the wilds.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Julie Muenster

    I love Jane Kirkpatrick's style. We know what the character is thinking, what she's wrestling with, her honest insights. I related with the tension between being obedient and submissive versus trusting my own instincts and challenging the status quo. The relationships are real--not romantic and shallow.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Anita

    And interesting read to inform the reader of the Cult group that went west. A bit frustrating to read in places yet endearing in others. A satisfying ending. I recommend it you can weed thru all the cultist thinking.

  15. 5 out of 5

    TheReadingKnitter/ Kasey

    I liked this book pretty good. I couldn't imagine living the life Emma did. I liked the ending and look forward to continuing the series.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jenna

    I didn't realize this was based on actual events until I was almost done with it. I enjoyed the main character and her tenacity, but almost quit the book several times. The author threw out just enough candy to keep me following her along the path of this story, but it never wowed me. The journey across the country on foot seemed too easy to be believable. Although I am a sucker for historical fiction and enjoyed several aspects of this story, I won't be reading the next book in the series.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Anya

    This book is the first in a series of three about a young woman from a German-American religious colony in Missouri in the mid 1800’s. The group migrated to Oregon in search of a place of secure separatism. They had much in common with the Amish or Mennonite societies but there were notable differences. Though they did have a desire to stay untainted and separate from the world, they made deliberate efforts to bring outsiders into their communities, encouraging others to join them, especially th This book is the first in a series of three about a young woman from a German-American religious colony in Missouri in the mid 1800’s. The group migrated to Oregon in search of a place of secure separatism. They had much in common with the Amish or Mennonite societies but there were notable differences. Though they did have a desire to stay untainted and separate from the world, they made deliberate efforts to bring outsiders into their communities, encouraging others to join them, especially those with a particular skill to contribute such as coopers or teachers. This was a type of evangelistic outreach as well as a way to prosper the colony. They were unusual in that they kept a common coffer, all working to fill it and drawing out as any had need, not something you would find with the Amish. It is the most Acts-like description I have ever encountered from actual history, and I was fascinated to view their dynamic in this. I found myself thinking of communism as I read, everyone sharing all they have, none doing without and none having so much that their lust of the flesh (aka: greed) could be feed. But, the core problem of Communism is laid bare in the adage, absolute power corrupts absolutely, and sadly, this is still a temptation to those Christians in authority over such groups. I know from scripture that God will always make a way out of any temptation but we do have to avail ourselves of His escape, and this, we are not always willing to do. Another theme of great interest that the author explored was the idea of individual vs. group identity. Like the Amish, the notion of standing out in any way was strongly discouraged in this sect, the belief being that the root of such was simply the sin of pride. And though I can see that this does need to be tempered, did God really make us with such homogeneity in mind? I find that hard to believe, as does, I think the author. It is difficult for us in this current age to see things from any perspective other than the one with which we have been so thoroughly indoctrinated; in this case, the right of the individual to be just that and all such to be celebrated. I think our culture has taken it to the absurd extreme in the opposite direction as these folks, the self being the supreme idol in 21st century America. Truly, moderation leads to the greatest contentment. God did make us unique and yet, we are all One in Christ. These two ideas can coexist if we leave the progression of sanctification to the Holy Spirit and do not rely on rules of conformity to do His work (which, of course, rules can never do as St Paul so eloquently teaches us in the epistles). I would highly recommend the series as the main character, Emma Wagner, is a wonderful study in the brutal process of God breaking our own will and replacing it with His own. She endures a great deal of hardship and her example of perseverance in the face of adversity was inspiring to me. All the more interesting were the struggles within her marriage and within their community that are not too different from what we still experience in our own lives today, dissimilar as they may be in other ways. The fact that she was a real person made it all the more encouraging to me personally. I eagerly look forward to reading the next two books and others by Jane Kirkpatrick.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    I had been interested in reading this 2006 release for a while, so when Waterbrook Multnomah was offering it for review, I was pleased to receive a copy. This novel focuses on the life of Emma Wagner Giesy, a real historical figure, and the research that went into the writing is clearly quite meticulous. This tale starts in 1852 in northern Missouri, where Emma and her family were part of the Bethel Colony, under the leadership of Wilhelm Keil. The Bethelites were German utopian isolationists. W I had been interested in reading this 2006 release for a while, so when Waterbrook Multnomah was offering it for review, I was pleased to receive a copy. This novel focuses on the life of Emma Wagner Giesy, a real historical figure, and the research that went into the writing is clearly quite meticulous. This tale starts in 1852 in northern Missouri, where Emma and her family were part of the Bethel Colony, under the leadership of Wilhelm Keil. The Bethelites were German utopian isolationists. When Keil began feeling threatened by the government, he decided to move the entire group from Missouri to Oregon, where he felt there would be more freedom. It was hard for me to read a story that had such an authoritarian leader. There is something so dangerous about a man or woman who is convinced they are the voice of God. At the same time, I had some real issues with the way Emma conducted herself in order to manipulate Keil and others to be able to do what she wanted. I understand that she was bound by the relationships with her parents and husband and was not free to leave the colony on her own, but resorting to lies and manipulations is never the right answer, either. I feel for Emma, being such a bright and determined woman, but especially early in the story felt like she made some really bad personal decisions. Keil decided to send scouts west in order to select a place for the Bethel colony to settle. When he names Emma's husband Christian as leader of the 9 men, Emma wrangles a way to be in included in the westward-bound party. Thus began the 6-month journey to the Pacific coast, several more months of searching for the right location, and then the beginning of preparing for the arrival of the rest of the colony. Emma and the scouts must learn the ways of a new land, forge new relationships, and deal with the harsh depravity that settlers often faced. Weather, lack of food, fear of Indian uprisings, and constant work to prepare for the expected 180 people to come behind them. The author wrote this book in such a way that it seemed almost as though it had been written in the 1850's, not just set there. The paragraphs were long and descriptive. There was not a lot of dialogue. This was not a problem for me, as I love reading classic literature, but I could see how it would be easy to lose other readers. It wasn't so interesting that I'm definitely planning on reading the last two books in the Change & Cherish series, but it was interesting enough that I will keep my eyes open for them in the future. The events towards the end of this novel had me curious enough to do some internet searching to find out the real life history of what happened next. The author did an excellent job of incorporating true factual events, with imagination in the details. I received my copy from Waterbrook Multnomah in exchange for this honest review. All opinions are my own. This review originated at http://reviewsbyerin.livejournal.com

  19. 4 out of 5

    Patricia

    A Clearing in the Wild by Jane Kirkpatrick Emma Warner was a young woman raised in the small German religious community of Bethel, Missouri, in the mid 1800′s. The community was somewhat isolated from others in the belief that their way of life was better protected if outsiders were kept at a distance. The only people to join the group were those who were “evangelized” usually by scouts who were sent out to find new places to settle. Emma married Christian Giesy, a man close to her father’s age, w A Clearing in the Wild by Jane Kirkpatrick Emma Warner was a young woman raised in the small German religious community of Bethel, Missouri, in the mid 1800′s. The community was somewhat isolated from others in the belief that their way of life was better protected if outsiders were kept at a distance. The only people to join the group were those who were “evangelized” usually by scouts who were sent out to find new places to settle. Emma married Christian Giesy, a man close to her father’s age, when she was a teenager. That they loved each other is clear but the marriage was not without its difficulties. Christian was a scout for the group and was away most of the first couple of years of their marriage. Though the members believed that women were to be submissive and follow the men Emma was rather out-spoken and impetuous. Christian liked her forth-rightness but it was frowned upon by the leadership at Bethel. When her husband is selected to lead a group of scouts west to the Washington territory Emma convinces the community’s leader that she should go with them. Unheard of, both that she approached leadership and that she was permitted to go. The journey to Washington was not easy for the pregnant woman but it was nothing compared to what she would endure once they arrived in Washington and began to prepare for those who would come to join the new settlement in a year or two. Christian and Emma face many challenges. Not only in their marriage but, like all the scouts, in simply staying alive. At one point Emma leaves Christian and the scouts and sets out alone, with her young son, to the place she thinks is better suited as a site for the community of believers. Of course, as she knew they would, Christian and the other men search for and find her. She makes her argument and there is compromise. When those from the Bethel community arrive all is not as hoped. There is disappointment and dissension among them and a split is inevitable. Through it all Emma becomes more confident of herself and of Christian. Her faith grows and sustains her when all else fails. They lose much in the journey but they gain even more. Based on the life of Emma Wagner Giesy, Jane Kirkpatrick’s story is one of determination, courage, and faith. I found the book interesting if only for the fact of the incredible hardships these people faced and overcame. As always Kirkpatrick did much research for her novel and shows us the tenacity, strength, and faith of the women who contributed to society in remarkable ways. This book was sent to me without charge by WaterBrook Multnomah in exchange for this review.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Virginia Campbell

    A compelling, richly-written blend of historical fact and thoughtful storytelling, "A Clearing in the Wild" is book one in author Jane Kirkpatrick's "Change and Cherish" series. Based on real-life people and places, the story line occurs in the mid-1800's, a time of Civil War and great reform to come for women and slaves. Emma Wagner is a young teenaged girl of German descent who lives in the idealized community of Bethel, Missouri. Communal life was based on a "Golden Rule", or a "Diamond Rule" A compelling, richly-written blend of historical fact and thoughtful storytelling, "A Clearing in the Wild" is book one in author Jane Kirkpatrick's "Change and Cherish" series. Based on real-life people and places, the story line occurs in the mid-1800's, a time of Civil War and great reform to come for women and slaves. Emma Wagner is a young teenaged girl of German descent who lives in the idealized community of Bethel, Missouri. Communal life was based on a "Golden Rule", or a "Diamond Rule", and members shared their crops and food, clothing and supplies, hand-crafted items, and, when needed, their monetary worth. The Bethel Community was founded by Wilhelm Kiel, a stern leader with a devoted following. Emma Wagner often disagreed with Kiel and his dictates of a woman's true place in life and her role in the community. Going against Kiel's wishes, Emma marries Christian Giesy, a man twice her age. Christian is the head scout for the colony, and he and Emma are often separated by his travels. When it becomes clear that a new location should be found for the security of the community, Emma maneuvers her way into accompanying Christian and the other scouts. They begin the journey with Emma keeping news of her pregnancy known only to herself. A momentous journey it is, full of wondrous discoveries and unexpected hardships. Eventually, Christian decides that the rugged territory of the land around the Willapa River in Washington Territory will make the perfect new home for the community. However, when Kiel and the colonists arrive, Kiel is quite disapproving of Christian's choice, and dissension stirs among the reunited community members. As Emma and Christian begin a new life with a growing family, will their own convictions and faith stand up to Kiel's edicts? As they adapt to a new land, and each grows as a person, will their relationship grow as well? Author Jane Kirkpatrick has shone a light on a remarkable woman and the fascinating era and settings in which her life was lived. The book contains wonderful extras for history lovers. There are maps, a roster of characters and their relationships, and a glossary of German and Chinook words. Also included is a very interesting interview with author Jane Kirkpatrick along with her acknowledgements and suggested additional reading resources. There are two additional books in this series: "A Tendering in the Storm", and "A Mending at the Edge". There is also a companion book, "Aurora: An American Experience in Quilt, Community and Craft", which provides a history told through quilts and crafts of the actual colony in Oregon. Review Copy Gratis WaterBrook Press

  21. 5 out of 5

    Brenda

    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 twe 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.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Joan

    I picked up this book after learning about it (and the rest of the series) from reading "Aurora: An American Experience in Quilt, Community, and Craft," a non-fiction book also by Jane Kirkpatrick. I was very interested in learning more of the history of the communities of Bethel, Willapa, and Aurora, and the story of Emma Watson, the only female scout sent out from Bethel to establish a new community in the West. I enjoyed her story as told in "A Clearing in the Wild" although the writing was n I picked up this book after learning about it (and the rest of the series) from reading "Aurora: An American Experience in Quilt, Community, and Craft," a non-fiction book also by Jane Kirkpatrick. I was very interested in learning more of the history of the communities of Bethel, Willapa, and Aurora, and the story of Emma Watson, the only female scout sent out from Bethel to establish a new community in the West. I enjoyed her story as told in "A Clearing in the Wild" although the writing was not as exciting or absorbing as I would have liked. I realize it can be a challenge to write an exciting fictional account incorporating the available historical facts, but I have read other historical novels that did a much better job of it. I also felt the romance and marriage between Emma and Christian was almost unbelievable - although true. The book never attempted to explain the attraction between young Emma, who was independent, opinionated, and a bit of a rebel within the community, and Christian, who was much older, one of the top leaders in the community, and very loyal to the leader. Perhaps it was a bit of "hero worship" on her part, but I don't understand why Christian would not have chosen a more "suitable" wife to support his work and position in the community. I wish the author had attempted to give an explanation, even if it was just her speculation. I did enjoy reading about Emma maturing in her attitudes and growing in her faith, as well as about the challenges the people faced and how they were affected by other events of the time. I will probably try to read the rest of this series because I want to see what happens to Emma and to the communities the group established.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Deon Stonehouse

    A Clearing in the Wild begins in Bethel Missouri where Emma Wagner lives in a religious community led by Wilhelm Keil. In the mid 1800’s there were many religious communities where people lived in a communal setting. Pooling their talents and resources among a group helped them survive and prosper. Emma wants more from life than bending her will to the group and the leadership of Wilhelm Keil. She is attracted to Christian Giesy, an older man. All major decisions are made by William Keil, his pe A Clearing in the Wild begins in Bethel Missouri where Emma Wagner lives in a religious community led by Wilhelm Keil. In the mid 1800’s there were many religious communities where people lived in a communal setting. Pooling their talents and resources among a group helped them survive and prosper. Emma wants more from life than bending her will to the group and the leadership of Wilhelm Keil. She is attracted to Christian Giesy, an older man. All major decisions are made by William Keil, his permission is needed before they marry. Emma would prefer making her own choices. Keil is concerned his community will become more worldly as Missouri grows. He decides the best course is a move west. Scouts must be sent across the land, through Indian territory, to find a new homeland for the colony. Emma is the lone woman on the scouting mission, accompanying her husband Christian Giesy. This is a gutsy journey for a young woman, especially a young woman expecting her first child. The scouts travel west, ending up in Willipa along the Washington coast. Tireless research gives Jane Kirkpatrick’s historical fiction a real window into the past. All of her books feature strong, independent women whose stories would be lost without Jane Kirkpatrick’s books. Researching Emma Giesy’s story, Jane haunted the archives of the Aurora Colony Historical Society for information on life in the colony. She interviewed descendants of the Giesy, Wagner and Keil families to develop a sense of the real people behind the story. She had access to family letters, journal, and records, granting her rich historical detail.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Coral

    This historical fiction tells the story of Emma Wagner, a woman who was part of the community that evenutally founded Aurora, Oregon. The author portrays her as spunky and individualistic in a community where that is frowned upon. All the people in the book existed and were part of her world. When asked how much of the story is hitory and how much is fictional, the author responded " Between history and story lies memory. Our memories of events are retold like a story, but they claim us as histor This historical fiction tells the story of Emma Wagner, a woman who was part of the community that evenutally founded Aurora, Oregon. The author portrays her as spunky and individualistic in a community where that is frowned upon. All the people in the book existed and were part of her world. When asked how much of the story is hitory and how much is fictional, the author responded " Between history and story lies memory. Our memories of events are retold like a story, but they claim us as history, as fact. So two people can be absolutely certain of an event but carry opposing memories of it." She tried to create an accurate account using what information was available. I found that I saw myself more in the character of Emma than I did the first time I read this book a couple of years ago. There are many wonderful little thoughts dispersed throughout the book. A couple of my favorites are: "Trouble is the needle that God uses to stitch us into finer quilts." "They follow our Lord, and yet they refuse to let HIm carry their burdens." An underlining theme through the book is the old German proverb "Begin to weave, God provides the thread." All this sounds like a religious book, yet it is never preachy. The group was a religious community that believed in living the Golden Rule and beyond. The book is really Emma's individual search for her own meaning in life. I enjoyed it more the second time than the first. I own the series and would be happy to share.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Michelle Delp

    Here in rural America, it's a big deal when the UPS truck pulls up out front. Which then leads to a dive for the front door to see who the package is for. "Boooook!", we yell. "We" being my fourteen year old daughter, and myself. Never mind that it's "mine". If it has words and she beats me to it, I'm sunk. And so it was that said daughter got to read "A Clearing In The Wild" first. Based on a true story, it follows the journey of young and spirited Emma Wagner as her life unfolds among the peop Here in rural America, it's a big deal when the UPS truck pulls up out front. Which then leads to a dive for the front door to see who the package is for. "Boooook!", we yell. "We" being my fourteen year old daughter, and myself. Never mind that it's "mine". If it has words and she beats me to it, I'm sunk. And so it was that said daughter got to read "A Clearing In The Wild" first. Based on a true story, it follows the journey of young and spirited Emma Wagner as her life unfolds among the people of Bethel, Missouri. Never one to "conform", Emma was the only woman in a party of ten sent out as a scout to find a new home for her communal society in the Oregon wilderness. Very well researched, it sent me scurrying to the internet to learn more about who Emma Wagner Giesy was, and what happened later on in her life. That was after my daughter had had her turn with the book. Which went something like this: "ummm, I don't really like this book, she marries some old guy". "Then why are you reading it?". "ummm, because I want to see what happens between her and the old guy"? I enjoyed "A Clearing in the Wild", plus it made for a nice discussion between my daughter and I after we had both read it. I'm always encouraged to know that there are good books out there that are "clean" enough for me to share with my fourteen year old daughter. Bravo, Jane Kirkpatrick! "A Clearing In The Wild" is available from www.waterbrookmultnomah.com This book was provided to me free of charge by Waterbrook Multnomah for review purposes.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Judy

    When I began listening to this book, I thought I might not finish it. I guess I'm strange, but I don't like books that quote Bible verses. I'd rather see the scriptures lived out in the lives of the characters. But I was soon captured by Emma Wagner and her life in the Bethel Colony in Missouri. Bethel Colony was an experiment in communal living. During the early 1800s there were many such tries to share all things in common. The leader of Bethel is not a loving leader, but a dictatorial man who When I began listening to this book, I thought I might not finish it. I guess I'm strange, but I don't like books that quote Bible verses. I'd rather see the scriptures lived out in the lives of the characters. But I was soon captured by Emma Wagner and her life in the Bethel Colony in Missouri. Bethel Colony was an experiment in communal living. During the early 1800s there were many such tries to share all things in common. The leader of Bethel is not a loving leader, but a dictatorial man who has not regard for most others' ideas. And, of course, women have a limited role as wife and mother but not a voice. Emma is an outspoken young girl who chafes at these limitations. Jane Kirkpatrick is a new author to me, and I like her writing. Her descriptions of the landscapes give your mind pictures that are sometimes lovely sometimes harsh. She tells of the onerous trip some of the residents from Bethel take to find a new location in the northwest to which the Colony can move. The hardships they endure are almost unbelievable. This is the first in a series, and I think I will try reading another one, or at least another book by Jane Kirkpatrick. Also, since I live in Missouri, I have discovered another location for a day trip, because Bethel Colony was a real historical place. The town still exists even though the community-in-common doesn't.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Tima

    Emma is too outspoken to be living in the community she was born in. So when the opportunity to escape comes in the form of following her husband as a scout, she takes every advantage to ensure it happens. But wishing to be heard, to be seen, to matter, lead her to a maturity that she didn't see coming. Based on a true story, the author takes literary license with the historical information she found and weaves a story of God and how he fits into our lives as individuals and as a Christian comm Emma is too outspoken to be living in the community she was born in. So when the opportunity to escape comes in the form of following her husband as a scout, she takes every advantage to ensure it happens. But wishing to be heard, to be seen, to matter, lead her to a maturity that she didn't see coming. Based on a true story, the author takes literary license with the historical information she found and weaves a story of God and how he fits into our lives as individuals and as a Christian community. The author did such a great job of portraying the stifling restrictions of the community and its somewhat dictatorial leader that I wasn't very fond of the beginning of the book. But once Emma left with her husband, it picked up and I began to enjoy the story more. While definitely a novel, the author did a good job of portraying the characters as real people who live and learn from their mistakes. I appreciated how she wrote about the marriage between Emma and her husband, Christian. It was very authentic. While I ended up enjoying the story in the end, I'm not sure I'll be reading the other books in the series. It just wasn't my style. I received this book free of charge from WaterBrook in exchange for my honest review.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Serena

    This first book in the trilogy follows Emma as she enters adulthood--rebelliously sewing ruffles into her petticoat, exasperating all with her endless questioning, learning what it means to love, and developing her own sense of spirituality. Jane Kirkpatrick clearly put extensive research into this story, and also fabricated wonderful details to flesh it out. I enjoyed following Emma as she questioned and discovered and grew, through all of her struggles and successes. One or two of the male char This first book in the trilogy follows Emma as she enters adulthood--rebelliously sewing ruffles into her petticoat, exasperating all with her endless questioning, learning what it means to love, and developing her own sense of spirituality. Jane Kirkpatrick clearly put extensive research into this story, and also fabricated wonderful details to flesh it out. I enjoyed following Emma as she questioned and discovered and grew, through all of her struggles and successes. One or two of the male characters proved to be quite insufferable, though, and I spent a good portion of the book fuming over their ignorant pigheadedness (sorry, that wasn't very nice). But they, like Emma, were real people, and they had their virtues. However, I was not completely engrossed in the story; it didn't have that magnetic pull on me that some books do. It is well-written, and I have no complaints about it (except maybe that the beginning was rushed a bit). I've read one other book by Kirkpatrick, and struggled through that one, too. I think it's just a difference between my taste and her style. *I received the Emma of Aurora trilogy free from the publisher in exchange for an honest reveiw. **Review originally posted on poetree.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Christy

    Unfortunately I found Emma a real chore to read about. I think she comes across too modern and forward thinking for someone who grew up in this Bethel community. I felt like I didn't really get to know the real Emma Wagner. I just couldn't overcome this selfish woman to continue reading the series. Jane's writing is once again impeccable.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Danielle

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This is a "worthy" read. (To use a Kirpatrick term.) I'll be buying book two. But, this book won't appeal to everyone. Some women will open the book and think, "This is the most boring book I've ever read." or "The character is so disagreeable." or "Why should Emma be silent? She needs to leave that man and never look back!" ;) Kirpatrick's heroines (in all her books)are based on real women in process. They are on a journey to figure who they are as women, as helpmeets, as children of God, as fr This is a "worthy" read. (To use a Kirpatrick term.) I'll be buying book two. But, this book won't appeal to everyone. Some women will open the book and think, "This is the most boring book I've ever read." or "The character is so disagreeable." or "Why should Emma be silent? She needs to leave that man and never look back!" ;) Kirpatrick's heroines (in all her books)are based on real women in process. They are on a journey to figure who they are as women, as helpmeets, as children of God, as friends, as mothers. As I was reading "A Clearing in the Wild" I felt at times that I was looking in a small mirror. I can relate to Emma. I know well the struggle of learning when to speak and when to remain silent...and I know well the pain of speaking out of turn and making things difficult for my husband and myself. And like Emma, I also know the blessing of having a husband who is strong enough to challenge the way that I think and does not allow me get away with being selfish - although there are plenty of times when I wish he would. ;)

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