Beverly Lewis. The Photograph. Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 2015. See here to buy the book.
This is the first book by Beverly Lewis that I have ever read. She writes a lot of Christian fiction about the Amish. In The Photograph,
Lily Esch abruptly leaves her Amish family and her Amish community
after the death of her parents, and that worries her sister Eva.
Meanwhile, an Amish buggy-maker named Jed is traveling by train from
Ohio and finds a photograph of an Amish woman with make-up looking into
the camera. The photo is inside of a copy of Little Women.
Jed is not only puzzled by the boldness of the woman in the photograph,
since Amish people are not allowed to get their picture taken, but he is
also drawn to the notes in the copy of Little Women—-their
sensitivity, longing, and wisdom. Jed himself is trying to move on
after the death of his fiancee, who loved books just like he did. While
many women are attracted to Jed, they are not exactly what he is
looking for in a spouse. Jed is reluctant to fall in love again, until
he meets Eva, thinking that she is the woman in the photograph.
This book did not sweep me off my feet, for it was a romance novel,
and the ending was rather predictable. Still, it was a delightful
read. It even had an endearing sub-plot about an Amish man named Omar
who wanted to register to vote because he was enamored with Ronald
Reagan, but his Amish community discouraged voting because God’s people
are not supposed to be a part of this world.
The book also painted an interesting picture of Amish religion. One
Amish person in the book said that Amish people who leave the community
really struggle in the outside world because they are not being true to
who they are. Jed’s father says that people in grief often pull away
from the body of Christ, with disastrous consequences. While many Amish
people in the book disapproved of Lily’s departure and were hoping that
she might return or be found, there is one character, Tilly, who had
left the community years before to marry one of the English, and she
offers to Eva her own perspective. While Amish parents are often
encouraged to shun their children who leave the community, Tilly’s
parents chose not to do so. Tilly appeared in a previous book by Lewis,
Beverly Lewis writes books about the Amish in part because she grew
up near Amish farmland, and, in the Acknowledgements, she thanks Amish
consultants who have offered helpful feedback to her as a writer.
Will I ever read a book by Beverly Lewis again? There is a part of
me that thinks reading romance books is a waste of time. On the other
hand, there was a calming feel that I had in reading Lewis. I enjoyed
spending time in her Amish setting, the same way that I like spending
time in Mayberry when I watch the Andy Griffith Show, or Walnut Grove when I watch Little House on the Prairie. I may very well read more of her books in the future.
I received a complimentary review copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers, in exchange for an honest review.