Abode of LoveBook - 2006
When Kate Barlow was a little girl, she moved with her mother and her older sisters to a ramshackle English mansion. They were not alone on the once-grand estate, surrounded as they were by twenty eccentric, elderly women, one of whom was her grandmother...or was she?
This remarkable memoir is the true story of life inside "The A," the infamous Agapemone, named for the Greek word meaning Abode of Love. It was a religious cult founded in mid-19th century England by a defrocked clergyman who claimed to be guided personally by the Holy Ghost. Agapemonites, many of whom were wealthy, unmarried women, lived together on the estate. They believed the Second Coming was imminent and that their founder would live forever. When Henry James Prince died unexpectedly, his successor declared himself the reincarnation of Jesus Christ, an announcement which caused rioting in the streets.
The book reveals the author's gradual awakening to the religious and sexual scandal that enveloped her family, as first the founder and then his heir -- Kate's grandfather -- continued the practice of taking so-called "spiritual" brides. In fact, these relationships were physical as well as spiritual, and some produced illegitimate children, Kate's mother being one of them.
This first inside account of the infamous cult is also a story about family, and its lingering legacy on several generations, including Kate Barlow's own mother. It is a gripping, sometimes humourous, deeply human tale.