Simple gifts : a memoir of a Shaker village /

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Bibliographic Details
Author / Creator:Sprigg, June.
Edition:1st ed.
Imprint:New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 1998.
Description:x, 227 p. : ill. ; 23 cm.
Subject:Sprigg, June -- Childhood and youth.
Sprigg, June.
Shakers -- New Hampshire -- Canterbury.
Canterbury (N.H.) -- Biography.
New Hampshire -- Canterbury.
Format: Print Book
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Hidden Bibliographic Details
ISBN:0679455043 (hc)
Notes:Includes bibliographical references (p. 215-227).
Review by Booklist Review

In 1972 Sprigg, then a college student, accepted a summer job working as a museum tour guide in the Shaker community at Canterbury, New Hampshire. Living among the Shakers affected her so profoundly that now, after several previous books on Shaker culture, she shares that experience with others in this memoir. More than just a remembrance of that life-changing summer, it is also a detailed chronicle of the Shaker way of life--a way of life that is now dying. Writing with enthusiastic compassion, Sprigg interweaves her own experiences with the stories of the Shaker women she lived with and the history of the Shaker religion in America. She conveys a wealth of information about the Shaker lifestyle and philosophy as revealed through the women who shared their love, wisdom, and good humor with Sprigg during her stay there. Finally, the memoir touchingly describes Sprigg's search for guidance in her own spiritual quest and the understanding and insight she gained during her stay with the Canterbury Shakers. --Bonnie Johnston

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Sprigg, who has published several books (By Shaker Hands) about the United Society of Believers in Christ's Second Appearing, or Shakers, spent three summers in the early 1970s living and working as a tour guide at the Shaker village of Canterbury, N.H. Although she never completely embraced the Shaker dogma, as a college student she was profoundly influenced by the months she spent with the seven aged Shaker women who were the only surviving inhabitants of the village. In this loving recreation of Shaker life, the author provides a history of the religion as well as interesting biographical sketches of the residents. Despite a strict belief in celibacy that was responsible for the dwindling number of adherents, Sprigg describes Lillian, Bertha and Gertrude, the three elders with whom she had the closest contact, as having led lives that included nurturing children who had been brought to their settlements. During the summers the author came to admire and respect their good-humored dedication to a life of prayer, hard work and nonviolence. And readers will feel deep poignancy in this engaging book when Sprigg writes, "The Shakers I knew best are all gone now." (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review

Sprigg, the author of numerous books about the Shakers, recounts her first summer with the Shakers of Canterbury, NH. In 1972, the 19-year-old Sprigg spent several months there as a tour guide, learning their personal and community history. At the time, only six elderly women remained. Sprigg writes with deep insight and affection about each of these women, encapsulating their unique personalities and daily life. In fact, the personality sketches constitute the strength of her story. Sprigg goes on to discuss the controversy between Canterbury and the other remaining Shaker community at Sabbathday Lake, ME. Sabbathday Lake was recently the subject of Suzanne Skees's God Among the Shakers (LJ 4/1/98), and libraries interested in one of these books will want to get both. Sprigg includes a good, basic bibliography. Recommended for public and academic libraries.‘C. Robert Nixon, Free Lance, Lafayette, IN (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by School Library Journal Review

YA-Sprigg recounts her experiences living for a summer in one of the last Shaker "utopian groups" in Canterbury, NH. She does a fine job of counterbalancing factual history with a look into the private lives of seven women. An understanding of the struggles and spiritual rewards of their lifestyle is offered through the author's observations and her examination of Shaker diaries and documents. Pen drawings enhance the narrative, and an extensive bibliography leads readers to a wealth of further information. Sprigg's writing style is readable and enjoyable, and she gives generous glimpses into the lives of a number of unique individuals.-Catherine Charvat, Kings Park Library, Burke, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

A seasoned curator and historian of Shakeriana (By Shaker Hands, 1975) here fondly remembers her summerlong stay, 26 years ago, at Canterbury Shaker Village in New Hampshire, then a living religious community. In the summer of 1972, Sprigg worked as a tour guide for visitors to the Canterbury Shakers. Her job brought her far more than an income. For it also provided her with the opportunity to befriend the seven elderly women who were then sustaining a two-centuries-old Shaker community even as it dwindled toward an end. Sweetly elegiac at its best, the book, enlivened by the author's eloquent line drawings, evokes the personalities of these community stalwarts. There is Bertha Lindsay, the townŽs eldress; Lillian Phelps, who forms its spiritual center; Gertrude Soule, a spunky commentator on all and sundry, whose health reports were indulgently dubbed ``organ recitals''; the dowdy Ethel Hudson, who had settled into early retirement (a ``loaf Believer''); elegant Alice Howland; the high-spirited Miriam Wall; and ominously Ethan FromeŽishŽbut giftedly green-thumbedŽMildred Wells, who hovered on the small societyŽs margins. Much, though not all, seems edenic among the Shakers, according to SpriggŽs observations. Citing an exception, she recounts the painful rift between Canterbury and Sabbathday Lake (for a look at the latter, see Suzanne Skees, God Among the Shakers, p. 255), a sibling community in Maine, over conflicting visions of the Shaker future, and also notes the tensions felt sometimes among Canterbury's own members. Still, the memories dearest to the author--of ladies shifting gently in their front-porch rocking chairs or of their long-untouched, pine-scented attics--donŽt always woo a reader's interest. The odd imbalance befalling the frugal Shakers, who have spent and multiplied little, of abundant assets husbanded by a shrinking constituency of members (14, in 1972), is mirrored here in SpriggŽs surfeit of pages bent on describing a world-in-miniature. A chatty memorial with too much verbiage. (9 illustrations)

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Review by Booklist Review

Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Review by Library Journal Review

Review by School Library Journal Review

Review by Kirkus Book Review