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Publisher's Summary

Young Emma Wagner chafes at the constraints of Bethel colony, an 1850s religious community in Missouri that is determined to remain untainted by the concerns of the world. A passionate and independent thinker, she resents the limitations placed on women, who are expected to serve in quiet submission.

In a community where dissent of any form is discouraged, Emma finds it difficult to rein in her tongue - and often doesn't even try to do so, fueling the animosity between her and the colony's charismatic and increasingly autocratic leader, Wilhelm Keil. Eventually Emma and her husband, Christian, are sent along with eight other men to scout out a new location in the northwest where the Bethelites can prepare to await "the last days."

Christian believes they've found the ideal situation in Washington territory, but when Keil arrives with the rest of the community, he rejects Christian's choice in favor of moving to Oregon. Emma pushes her husband to take this opportunity to break away from the group, but her longed-for influence brings unexpected consequences. As she seeks refuge for her wounded faith, she learns that her passionate nature can be her greatest strength - if she can harness it effectively.

©2006 Jane Kirkpatrick (P)2008

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  • Debbie
  • 14-05-2019

Historical Tale of Emma Wagnor Giesy

Based on the real-life story of Emma Wagnor Giesy, a young woman who was a part of the Bethel Colony in Missouri in the 1850s, Clearing in the Wild is a richly detailed and an eye-opening account of life in a religious community like few others. Led by Wilhelm Keil, who made all the decisions for the colony, including approving who could marry whom, the community was self-sufficient, making and selling goods to the outsiders. Preaching hell and damnation and the coming end of times, Keil lived in the “Big House” while others lived communally. One of the best money makers for the colony was their homemade whiskey . . . yes, whiskey. Few ever challenged Father Keil, but one who did was Christian Giesy, when Keil refused his blessing on the proposed marriage of Christian and Emma Wagnor. The couple was not married by the stubborn Keil, but he did invite them to the “Big House” for a party afterward. Feisty, outspoken Emma was the perfect match for Christian, but was way ahead of her time. I’ve thought long and hard about this book about Emma and about the lessons of her life. This is a very good series. I’ve gone back and researched the Bethel Colony and their trek westward. At times I’ve thought that Wilhelm Keil had an almost cult-like hold over his followers . . . but I’ve had to back off that opinion. He took the Bible out of context. He was a hard man . . . as many of that era was. But he was no Jim Jones. Most of all, I absolutely LOVE Emma, her spirit, her gumption, and the way she loved and honored Christian. Her sacrifice for her family. If you are not a person who can enjoy the JOURNEY, this book is not for you. This one is all about the journey, both physically and spiritually.

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  • katie
  • 21-07-2009

a clearing in the wild

injoyed this book very much a very good story with a bit of everything also quite educational and easy to listen to.

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  • BJfirststate
  • 16-10-2009

A great story

Very enjoyable

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