Saturday, August 27, 2016

Book Write-Up: An Amish Harvest

An Amish Harvest: Four Novellas.  Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2016.  See here to buy the book.

As the title indicates, this book has four novellas.  Each is by a well-known author in the field of Amish fiction.  In this review, I will list each novella then offer my thoughts about it.

Beth Wiseman, “Under the Harvest Moon.”

This story deals with domestic violence, for the main character, Naomi, was physically abused by her late husband.  The novella’s interaction with this issue is effective.  It talks about the fear that Naomi experienced, her rationalizations of the violence, how her husband came across as a decent fellow to others, and the impact of the violence on at least one of her children.

A noteworthy plot device in the story involved Brock, Naomi’s love interest after her husband’s death.  Brock was English and was doing chores at Naomi’s place.  Unbeknownst to Naomi and her family, Brock has an Amish background and can understand them when they are discussing him as a romantic prospect for Naomi!

The novella also discusses powwowing, which is somewhat like witchcraft.  Amish culture largely disapproves of it, yet there are Amish people who secretly consult practitioners.  This was new to me.

The romance was rather rushed and a bit underdeveloped, but that may have been due to limitations in space.  The story did have some good characters, such as Naomi’s daughter,  who was intelligent beyond her years.

Amy Clipston, “Love and Buggy Rides.”

This story intersects, somewhat, with Amy Clipston’s “Amish Heirloom” series, but one can understand this story without having read the series.

This novella is about an accident involving an automobile and an Amish buggy.  An Amish young woman develops an attraction towards the driver of the buggy.  The story goes into the trouble that the driver was in, in terms of his job.

This story was not my favorite in the book, but it was all right.  There was not much in this story that was eventful.  Perhaps my reaction is due to my having already read an Amish novel (Kathleen Fuller’s An Unbroken Heart) involving an accident; fortunately, in Clipston’s novella, nobody is killed.

Kathleen Fuller, “A Quiet Love.”

In this novella, there is Amos, who is in his twenties.  Amos may be on the autistic spectrum, or he may be developmentally-delayed.  He is slow in processing things, and he is rather blunt when he speaks.  At the same time, he is very talented at drawing.

Dinah is also in her twenties.  She stutters, and she has been a recluse on account of that, even though her mother pressures her to go out, meet people, and get married.  She meets Amos because a relative of hers married a relative of his.

A romance develops between Amos and Dinah.  Amos thinks that Dinah is beautiful, and he likes that Dinah does not talk down to him or take offense at what he says; he feels comfortable around her, in short.  Dinah is drawn to Amos’ innocence.  She also notices his insight when she is teaching him to read poetry.  And there is the physical attraction.

This is a beautiful story, and it interacts thoughtfully with certain issues, such as the extent to which Amos understands romantic love, and his growth into adult responsibilities after he gets married.  It is moving when two “odd ducks” find each other and make a life together.  The appropriateness of such a relationship would probably be debated, though.

Vannetta Chapman, “Mischief in the Autumn Air.”

This story is a mystery, which is not surprising, since Vannetta Chapman writes Amish mysteries.  A map involving U.S. history is involved.  So is an auction.

I read this story in its entirety, but I had difficulty getting into it.  It could have used more pathos, which would have allowed me to connect more with the characters.  At the same time, the story’s distance did coincide with intelligent insights about God’s work in bringing people together to meet each other’s needs.

I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.

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