Historical Fiction

Chasing Gods by Willard Berry



Copyright © 2019 by Willard Berry
ISBN: 978-1-941066-36-2
372 pages, perfect bound, 6.0 x 9.0 inches
WB Press, an imprint of Wordrunner Press
$16.95, paperback

CHASING GODS chronicles the calamitous life (1788-1852) of the author’s 3rd great-grandfather.Ephraim Berry was brought down by paternal scorn, an economy destroyed by war, and the cropless “Year without a Summer.” With the appearance of charismatic preacher Jacob Cochrane, in 1816, Ephraim was lifted up and crowds found a prophet and God’s messenger. Cochrane built a new church with wild exhortations, miracles, nudity in church, and the promotion of polygamy. Thoroughly devoted to his prophet, Ephraim was devastated when Cochrane, his “channel to God,” went to prison for lewd behavior and adultery.Ephraim aspired to talk to God directly, and his hope was rekindled when Mormon missionaries arrived in 1830s Buxton. He converted, abandoned his wife and set off by wagon for Granger, New York with his six children and new female companion.CHASING GODS follows the tragedy and triumph of Ephraim’s 600-mile journey, but the novel’s larger concern is the impact on the Berry family of Ephraim’s single-minded quest. A family without a mother, a daughter dehumanized by a polygamist patriarch—the story illuminates the female experience in a society beset by primordial superstition and discrimination.

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