This gem of a book tells the story of love between two people, Will and Susanna, set against the persecution of the Quakers in 17th-century England. The unembellished but quietly passionate tone of the story perfectly realises the Quaker ideals of simplicity and truth and the privations which they endure with courage and dignity serve to engage reader sympathy in a powerful, understated way.
Thus Will’s conversion to the Quaker faith becomes credible and the posturing of those in power is made to seem more foolish by contrast. Young love is explored with honesty – Will’s impetuous desire to marry Susanna without thought for their future, blinded by the physical temptations and the need to sacrifice for his new cause – and Susanna’s clear sight tempering this unseemly haste. Historical context is accurately and carefully used but it is the measured tone of the narrative and its humble, quiet characters with their rock of religion which leave a lasting impression.