One member said it was a clash of worlds between the Quakers and the Americans. The world was influx, their beliefs and viewpoints came up against each other. Another stated that they didn't know much about Quakers so liked that was brought out in the book. We talked about the language, the "Thee" and "Thou." Was it because these were biblical words that they continued to talk like this? Quakers are born into the faith -- it is a dying breed because of that. We talked about the Amish, how their communities are thriving and we talked about the Shakers. Where did the Quakers originate? They go back to England but how did it start and when? We discussed that it was their Quiet Time that was intriguing at their meeting. They didn't have a minister, one thing we noted. They sat in silence for hours, a couple of hours at least, unless someone was moved to speak. Honor knew Quakers didn't believe in slavery, but there were conflicts within the group. Blacks were at the meetings but they sat on different pews.
We talked about Honor. Honor came over from Bridport, England to Faithwell, Ohio with her sister, Grace, who dies while on their journey to Ohio and Honor continues to find the man that Grace was to marry, and other Quakers in that community. We talked about how she couldn't go back, she was so sick on the boat ride over and it wasn't for the faint of heart to come to America. Did she think she would marry her sister's fiance, Adam? She gets there to find out that isn't going to work to even live there, as Adam's brother also had just died and now he was helping to take care of his brother's wife, Abigail. We felt that in England, she didn't have to make decisions like this. She lived with her parents who helped make decisions, her religion was what it was, you believed and that helped you to make decisions. Now she was here and what was she going to do? One member said "I felt sorry for her and then at the end I didn't have as much respect as she questioned her beliefs."
We loved the letters, at the end of the chapter. How many immigrants never saw their family again? We were astonished at the time delay in the letters -- at least 3 weeks.
Honor had to believe others would be good to her, had herself in a position to trust others. She had to take a leap of faith. Not a lot of choices in her circumstances and she had financial constraints. We talked about Belle, Honor seemed happiest when she was with Belle. Belle was unusual, she wasn't a Quaker, she was a drinker and a strong woman. She had her own business, with out a husband. Some of us felt that Honor had a lot of conflict with her faith. There weren't many choices in regards to love, either.
She did have an attraction to Jake and did marry him. We weren't sure if we could believe the corn field fling! We wondered if she would have married Donovan. He did say he would change, work for the railroad. She said she could see the light in him. She had that spark with Donovan. We felt that she seemed bolder when she was with Donovan, felt more liberated. She didn't talk to Jack and the other Quakers like she did with Donovan. We talked about how Donovan changed once Honor had her baby. It was a tragic end with Belle and Donovan.
We liked the Underground Railroad woven into the story. We like the part at the end where Mrs. Reed said -- you can't save them all. "You jues one small link in a big chain" Mrs Reed had said. Both Mrs. Reed and Belle encouraged Honor to go back to Jack. Belle tried to dissuade her from acting upon Donovan. Mrs. Reed also told Honor, loss is a part of life and it brings change. Keep going, do what you have to do.
There was a lot of loss. Honor, her sister, her homeland; Belle, her husband (Donovan ran him off); Mrs. Reed, her husband, leaving others behind; Jack, his Dad, their farm and community. Honor learned about resilience from Belle -- you go on and find a way to live. Honor and Jack along with Comfort did that at the end, found their own way away from Faithwell.