Friday, March 4, 2016

Book Write-Up: An Amish Market

Amy Clipston, Kathleen Fuller, Kelly Irvin, and Vanetta Chapman. An Amish Market: Four Novellas. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2015. See here to buy the book.

An Amish Market is a collection of four novellas about the Amish. The first three of them, at least, relate to the Amish market.

A. The first story is by Amy Clipston. It is entitled “Love Birds.” Its characters and plot intersect with Clipston’s 2015 book, The Forgotten Recipe (see here for my review). Seth Lapp died on the job. Whereas The Forgotten Recipe focused on his fiancée Veronica and his friend and co-worker Jason, “Love Birds” focused on his sister Ellie. Ellie and her mother Margaret are struggling to get by financially after the death of Seth, who was the source of income for the family. Ellie takes a job at an Amish gift shop. But the gift shop itself is struggling because there is really nothing that sets it apart from other Amish stores: they all pretty much sell the same stuff. That only compounds Ellie’s economic insecurity.

Ellie has romantic feelings towards Lloyd, a friend of Seth. Lloyd thinks that he’s too old for her, since he’s later in his twenties than she is. Lloyd carves beautiful wooden birds. His father discourages this hobby and thinks it is prideful. Ellie, by contrast, encourages Lloyd in his hobby and says that Lloyd gives God glory by using his talents. Lloyd gives Ellie one of his birds in a tender moment in which both are mourning the loss of Seth. But Ellie feels tempted to tell her boss about Lloyd’s birds so that the store will sell them and she can still keep her job.

This story was all right. The part about how using one’s talents can glorify God stood out to me. Margaret also trusted in God’s provision, which I had to respect, considering the economic insecurity they had.

B. The second story is “A Bid for Love,” by Kathleen Fuller.

Hannah Lynne sells butter at the local market. She has a crush on Ezra. Ezra buys a lot of butter and likes Hannah. But he comes across as aloof. Hannah herself does not really know how to flirt with Ezra, even though she can be really talkative with her friends. Hannah does not even think Ezra is interested in her. He has been a bachelor for a long time.

Ezra inadvertently donates his late grandmother’s quilt to an auction. Hannah really wants that quilt. The reason is that it reminds her of a quilt of her late aunt. Hannah back when she was a child spilled grape juice on the quilt in a tantrum, yet her aunt continued to love her and to display the quilt, stain and all. Her aunt loved that quilt because it was all she had left of her departed husband.

Well, Hannah loses the bidding war. But Ezra buys the quilt from the person who won it and gives it to Hannah. Hannah works for Ezra at his new house to pay him back. Ezra later learns from his mom that the quilt was valuable to the family, and he tells his mom that he will get the quilt back. That means he will have to break the bad news to Hannah: that he needs the quilt back.

This is a sweet story. I can identify with the part about having feelings of love for someone, but not knowing how to express them. That’s not my situation now, but it has been in the past.

C. The third story is “Sweeter Than Honey,” by Kelly Irvin.

Isabella spills pickled beets at the local store, where Will works. Isabella has romantic feelings for Will. But Will is carrying some emotional baggage. Will loved two women from the same family: the first rejected him, and the second left him to be with his cousin, who left the Amish community. Will is struggling to forgive. His mentor tells Will, though, that it will be difficult for Will to love open-handedly in the future, if his fists are clenched about things that occurred in the past.

Isabella is actually new to town.  She is shy and quiet, so she did not really fit in at her previous town, even though it was small and people knew each other.  Her dad asks her if she misses her friends from her previous town.  She remembers that they were really best friends with each other and just let her tag along.  She replies to her dad that she is glad to be starting anew.  

I had some difficulty getting into this story. But it had good lessons, particularly about forgiveness.  I also identified with Isabella's shyness.

D. The fourth story is “Love in Store,” by Vannetta Chapman.

Stella and David both work at the same mill. Both are older than many of the characters of the previous stories. David is a widower. Stella is single and is known for her sarcastic mouth. Stella is a little put off by David’s cheerfulness. Stella herself carries baggage: she cannot have children, so she embraced a life of being alone (though she lives with a friend who has empty nest syndrome).

A series of unfortunate events are occurring at the mill, disrupting its business. At first, they are pranks. Later, arson enters the picture. David gets a letter from the prankster/arsonist about the Year of Jubilee in the Book of Leviticus. What is going on there? Stella and David try to solve this mystery.

This story was all right. My favorite part was David’s interaction with I John 4:18: there is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. David wanted to love Stella so that she would no longer be afraid. He also hoped that she would find that kind of love from God.

Overall, I liked the stories. I can see myself reading books by these authors in the future.

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