"The Abode of Love" is Kate Barlow's remarkable tale of growing up within a religious cult. Founded in the nineteenth century by a charismatic priest, the Agapemone (Greek for 'abode of love') later gained yet more notoriety when Kate's grandfather, who then led the community, claimed to be the reincarnation of Jesus Christ. Protected from the truth about her family's past by a wall of secrecy, it was years before Kate or her two sisters unearthed details of their grandfather's controversial claim and learned of the rumours that had circulated within the local community of sexual scandals, 'spiritual brides' and peculiar rituals. By piecing together details from old photographs and conversations with some of the elderly ladies who formed the last remnants of the cult, Kate gradually builds up a picture of the world she grew up in and comes to understand the exclusion and unhappiness that her mother and uncles experienced as illegitimate children named Glory, Power and Life in the early twentieth century.
Fifty years on from the sale of the Agapemone estate, which marked the end for the Abode of Love, there is still the question of what to do about the Ark of the Covenant, the church built by Kate's grandfather in north London and under the roof of which he made his outrageous claim. As in all good stories, the end is never quite the end.
Kate Barlow was born in Egypt, where her father was serving with the British forces, and grew up in England. Between 1960 and 1965, she served in the Women's Royal Air Force and later became a newspaper reporter. In 1980, she moved to Canada, where she still resides with her family.