Hello Ladies! I am so excited to start this journey of exploring The Visionist with you. Katie and I have been really jazzed about the idea of a book club for a few months now, and it's just so exciting to finally be here with you ladies discussing the novel. In this post, I'll discuss some of what has really captured my interest in this novel, and some of the big ideas I'm pondering. I really hope that all of you that are participating will comment so that we can have a conversation together about this text. I can't wait to know what YOU think.
I know that we hadn't yet set an official schedule for this, so for this week I just wanted to discuss what's happened in the first 53 pages of the text. From here on out, this is the schedule Katie and I are going to follow. I really hope that you ladies can stay tuned along on this schedule, but I know sometimes life happens! These discussions are here for you to participate when you can and for you to read when you're caught up. I do hope all of you will plan on meeting up with us as an event for the final discussion. We love connecting with you on Hello Luvvy, but for those that can connect in person, we want to continue building that community as well. This is our first month, so please let us know if this schedule is paced at something most of you find do-able. Is it too slow? Too fast? We LUVV feedback.
The schedule is as follows:
Discussion Dates/Which pages the discussion is through
04/12 - 1-53
4/19 - 53-115
4/26- 115 -146
5/3 - 146-203
**Details about our final meeting will be announced at a later date.
Now! To discuss the book.
First, I have to say I just luvv reading books with multiple narratives. It's so exciting for me to think about how various live are intertwined. 53 pages in, we've met Polly, Charity, and Simon, and although it's foreshadowed why these separate entities will meet, we still have our minds pondering how and with what results. In the prologue Charity says: "Life changing tumult can be born of a single happening." What happenings will occur or have already occurred that will create tumult and change in our character's lives?
The vast differences between the narratives are most apparent between how different our female POVS Charity and Polly, are from Simon. Charity and Polly have both experienced their own forms of inoculation through their lives. Polly in the form of a control wielded by her father, and Charity by the control wielded by her faith. Polly, breaks free from her life, and Charity will as shown by the prologue, but what are the personal consequences of such upheaval? Polly breaks free when aware of her and her family's impending death, but Charity, it seems, will need more than being pushed towards death to see beyond her circumstances. I mean, for goodness sake, being scoured to the point of blood soaked sheets clinging to one's body, had only the effect of strengthening Charity's devotion: "I could prove myself only by carrying the burden bravely. I understood then, a I blew out the candle and stood in darkness, that to attempt to deny my cross, to crawl out from under the weight of it, was only to render it heavier still."
What are these curious burdens she has on her body? Are they medical in origin or is there another explanation? It's also curious how beautifully she [Charity] describes something that others deem to be evil.
Simon, at least for now, adds a lightness to the story that I found to be in stark contrast to the girls. Cynical and clearly changed by a complicated past, but incredibly, humorously aware of humanity, particular in the form of human weaknesses. We know his path is leading to Polly, but how will his past come to play with his present if/when it connects with Polly?
Lastly, the use of the Shakers as a cultural setting adds some interesting layers to the story. I'm enjoying learning about the culture, and love the implications of Urquhart choosing this setting. As Katie mentioned before, a society of completely equal genders is a setting begging to be examined from a feminist lens. For now, think of how this perspective of gender will change our understanding of characters and the Shakers culture. Especially in light of considering that many of the women find solace in this community because of its celibacy. Women that have been bound to the consequences of their sex: raped, molested, shunned for being barren, and so forth, are no longer confined to a society that sees them as a consequence. How does relief from such constraints affect faith and identity? Will the City of Hope be the place of good dreams Polly escaped to as she was raped by her father?
The last thought I want to leave you with is the choice of the naming the Shaker community the City of Hope. There are many other communities listed (City of Love, City of Peace), what are the implications of Charity's community being the City of Hope?
Ladies, there are so many other details to discuss, but I think this lays a nice foundation to the ideas that are most prevalent on my mind. What stands out to you? What are you curious about?
Again, we LUVV to know what you think, and can't wait to continue this conversation in the comment section.