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Mr Wroe's Virgins

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Mr Wroe is a self proclaimed prophet who leads a church of Christian Israelites in Ashton near Manchester and has managed to persuade the local population that the world will end and only by following him can they go to heaven when the world ends; which is imminent. Rogers says that Wroe asked his congregants to provide him with seven virgins for unspecified tasks, and they did. Just the kind of book I'm after when I pick up an historical novel, one that introduces me to an aspect of the past I knew nothing about, like the Christian Israelites in England in the 1800's. There are some great flashes of humour - at one point the women have to deliver punishment to male sinners by grasping their genitals in one hand and thrashing their buttocks with a whip.

I certainly do not understand why such a (at the time) highly acclaimed miniseries has been allowed to fade away from memory, receiving no release to DVD. I've tried to find a DVD of the BBC production but without success although there are some scenes freely available on Youtube which might act as trailers. Joanna, the zealot, when the girls are picked to be 'the virgins' sees tears of joy when in reality the tears were of fear.One is pious and believes in the Prophet wholeheartedly and will do whatever he says that God says is right. The publisher of this book provided free copies of the book to have their book reviewed by a professional reviewer. He was accepted as Prophet by his Lancashire congregation in 1822 and received from on high the news that Ashton was to be the New Jerusalem.

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. In the process they are plunged into fascinating corners of the city, forge powerful relationships, and rediscover their own powers and potential.

Wroe's little household of women ended in sorrow when, after 9 months, several of them complained to the church elders of improper behavior on the preacher's part. that a seventh virgin was chosen, having been offered by her aunt and uncle when Ann's distressed state of mind became evident. Despite the fact that this was the TV production that launched Danny Boyle's incredible film career, I do think it's a little unfair that what he went on to so brilliantly achieve elsewhere may have possibly overshadowed this remarkable achievement. His many prophecies proved remarkably accurate - not least of all his predictions of industrial and scientific advancements and a 'grievous plague' which came unfortunately true when cholera was to hit the town - but many still viewed him as a charlatan.

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