I have no idea what that exclamation mark is doing up there ^^ but I can’t get rid of it!
This was a solid if not spectacular collection of novellas, all a little bit different, including one set in 1957. The stories are not connected as far as I know, so can be read with long gaps between them.
Every author has a different take on Amish culture, which I suppose is because every Amish community is different. It’s funny, for example, how in some books the characters have phones and in others they’re completely banned.
I’ve noticed the average Amish fiction author’s favourite trope is the young widow or widower. Who would want to be Amish if half the population regularly dies in their twenties?! I’m guessing this is NOT a fact!
I do like that Amish fiction allows different kinds of heroes. If you read romance, it can get tiring with every single man looking and acting exactly the same.
One thing I noticed very quickly was that the author had a few expressions that kept being repeated. All authors have these, but I couldn’t figure out why all the characters – all ages and genders – kept “scratching their forehead” before talking. Who does that?
Rooted in Love
Rosemary Lantz is doing her best to run her family’s household. She excels at all her tasks except one: gardening. Saul Petersheim has pursued Rosemary for years, but Rosemary keeps turning him down. What Saul doesn’t know is that she has good reason—something no one can know—especially not him.
This first novella was interesting, and right at the start I thought I’d guessed the big drama that broke our hero and heroine up when they were teenagers. However I got it wrong. I was expecting something MUCH bigger, and in the end, when the Big Misunderstanding was revealed, I wanted to slap the heroine for her stupidity!
At one point, hero and heroine’s father bump into each other in the street, and somehow this is a bad enough accident to put people in the hospital with serious injuries. This was utterly unbelievable! Maybe they should have had a buggy accident instead.
There seem to be a lot of Amish books where a poor young guy is pursuing a woman who outwardly shows no interest in him. I do find it makes the characters hard to like sometimes.
A Love for Irma Rose
The year is 1957, and young Irma Rose has a choice to make. Marry the man who loves her? Or go after Jonas, the high-spirited, yet noncommittal man her heart loves?
The second novella, the one set in the 50s, was the sweet one with the best character relationships.
Amish life has barely changed from then to now, so it’s only when the characters mix with the rest of the community that you notice the different time period!
I did like the characterisation, and the way our hero was so sure from the outset who and what he wanted in life, and that he went for it against the odds. This was my favourite of the four – by far.
Eli Byler has been a widower for two years when he chooses to make a fresh start in Paradise, Pennsylvania. Eli’s children are determined to keep their family the way it is, but they aren’t in Paradise long before the available ladies begin to show an interest in Eli.
As Eli juggles the admiration of two women, he meets Miriam Fisher—the most unconventional Amish woman he’s ever met. She doesn’t fit the mould for what Eli is looking for, but it isn’t long before Eli realizes that Miriam is everything he wants. But with two children constantly trying to sabotage his efforts, will he ever be happy again?
The third novella was much more about family than romance. It’s about dealing with the realities of being a teenager, no matter what culture you’re in, and it’s about nine thousand Amish widows and widowers (seriously, stay away from an Amish marriage; it will only last a couple of years and then one of you will die!).
I enjoyed it. It was my second favourite, even if the relationship came out of nowhere.
When Christmas Comes Again
Katherine knows the first Christmas without Elias will be hard for her and the children. But when a mysterious Englischer appears with photographs of her late husband, Katherine begins to wonder what other blessings Christmas could have in store.
The fourth novella is entirely different. It’s a bit of a mystery, and again focuses on teen relationships as much as adult relationships. Concluding the “Amish year”, this is a winter story, and is about family love, not love of the romance variety.
If you read Amish fiction, I’m sure you’ll like this. They’re not all as good as each other, but you get an idea of the author’s style. The second one, my favourite, is apparently attached to a series that I might be interested in reading.
Also I love the cover!
Review copy provided by NetGalley.