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In 1830, as the end of the world approached, the charismatic, hunchbacked prophet of a religious sect settled in Lancashire heeds the biblical injunction and chooses seven virgins ‘for comfort and succour’. Basing her novel on the life of the real John Wroe, a leader of a group called the Christian Israelite Church, Rogers crafts an impeccable narrative, interweaving the diverse mindsets of some of the chosen women and the prophet during the nine months of complex interaction. Part morality tale, part history, packed with accurate details of early 19th century life, the stories of Leah, Joanna, Hannah and Martha unfold as they cope with the hypocrisy, blind beliefs and idealism of the sexually threatening prophet.

Told with humour, irony and a generosity that embraces even the sinister Wroe, this is a compelling story of astonishing depth, elucidating religious idealism, the beginnings of socialism and the ubiquitous position of women as unpaid labourers.

Reviews

The pages turn faster as scandals crop up, but the verisimilitude remains remarkable.
LOS ANGELES TIMES
It burns with intelligence and is outstandingly well written and constructed.
SUNDAY TIMES
A historical novel in the tradition of A.S Byatt... humorous, touching, ironic...explores the time-honoured conflict between the sacred and the profane.
PACIFIC SUN
Gracefully written and immensely powerful, this imaginative reconstruction of what nine months with a peculiar patriarch might have been like is also an insightful exploration of the interplay between faith, passion and betrayal.
BOOKLIST