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The Visionist: A Novel Audiobook, by Rachel Urquhart Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: Rachel Urquhart Narrator: Ellen Archer, Ali Ahn, Peter Ganim Publisher: Hachette Book Group Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: January 2014 ISBN: 9781619694699
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An enthralling debut novel about a teenage girl who finds refuge—but perhaps not—in an 1840s Shaker community.

In this exquisite, transporting debut, fifteen-year-old Polly Kimball sets fire to the family farm, killing her abusive father. She and her young brother find shelter in a Massachusetts Shaker community called The City of Hope. It is the Era of Manifestations, when young girls in Shaker enclaves all across the Northeast are experiencing extraordinary mystical visions, earning them the honorific of “Visionist” and bringing renown to their settlements.

The City of Hope has not yet been blessed with a Visionist, but everything changes when Polly arrives and is unexpectedly exalted. As she struggles to keep her dark secrets concealed in the face of increasing scrutiny, Polly finds herself in a life-changing friendship with a young Shaker sister named Charity, a girl who will stake everything—including her faith—on Polly’s honesty and purity.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Gripping, profound, and beautifully written, The Visionist takes us to a world where faith and fear exist simultaneously and safety has a price. A remarkable exploration of love in all its forms with complex characters who linger far beyond the final pages.”

    Brunonia Barry, New York Times bestselling author of The Lace Reader

  • The Visionist is both a haunting, beautifully imagined tale of lives devastated by cruelty and transformed by love, and a gorgeously evocative portrait of an 1840s Shaker settlement that is as startling as it is convincing.”

    Cathy Buchanan, New York Times bestselling author of The Painted Girls

  • “Rachel Urquhart’s transporting debut The Visionist lifts the veil on the intriguing, mystical past world of the Massachusetts Shakers. Equal parts exquisite historical coming-of-age story and harrowing crime procedural, The Visionist breathes life into desperate young orphan Polly Kimball, weaving a complex and compelling drama about one of American history’s most elusive religious communities. Lovers of historical fiction and seekers after truth will devour The Visionist just like I did.”

    Katherine Howe, New York Times bestselling author of The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane

  • “Rachel Urquhart paints a fascinating, complex portrait of Shaker culture in early America. An unexpected coming of age story, a suspenseful mystery. But what makes The Visionist particularly engaging is its thoughtful examination of the nature of good and evil, and our struggle to recognize it in ourselves and in others.”

    Eowyn Ivey, New York Times bestselling author of The Snow Child

  • “Urquhart’s find first novel…is rich with information…Urquhart reveals the truly exotic nature of Shaker culture…She is able to create two little girls who are both shrewd and naïve, calloused and tender. She recognizes and values the emotional complexity even of those trapped in narrow lives.”

    New York Review of Books

  • “The three narrators of this story are perfectly cast.”


  • A 2014 New York Times Editor’s Choice
  • Longlisted for the 2014 Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize

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About the Author

Rachel Urquhart is a former writer and editor at Spy, Vogue, and Allure magazines. Her nonfiction has appeared in the New Yorker, the New York Times, Tin House, Elle, GQ, Harper’s Bazaar, Food & Wine, Travel & Leisure, and Vanity Fair. She received her MFA in fiction from Sarah Lawrence College and lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two sons.

About the Narrators

Ellen Archer has narrated numerous audiobooks and has won several AudioFile Earphones Awards, as well as the prestigious Audie Award for best narration. She is an actress, and singer with a degree in opera performance from the Boston Conservatory. She has performed extensively on the New York stage and in regional theaters.

Ali Ahn is a film, television, and voice actor. Her acting credits include appearances on Law & Order, Ugly Betty, White Collar, and Zero Hour. She has also narrated numerous audio books, such as Honolulu by Alan Brennert, This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen, Persian Pickle Club by Sandra Dallas, and Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart.

Peter Ganim, an Earphones Award–winning narrator, is an American actor who has appeared on stage, on television, and in film. He has performed voice-over work since 1994.