Judith Miller has done such a great job with telling the story of the Amana people. I have to say that once I started with book 1, I was hooked. I just fell in love with Gretchen and what a great daughter she was. I almost hated for the book to end, but knowing it had to, I am now patiently waiting on book 3. Great job Judith!!
Although she lives in one of the villages of the Amana colonies, Gretchen Kohler dreams of being an author. A dear friend supplies her with notebooks in which to record her thoughts, but this friend is the only person who seems to care about her writing.
Her father has been distant and stern since her mother died, and her childhood sweetheart, Conrad, is a pragmatic man who doesn't pay attention to the person Gretchen really is. To top things off, she's saddled with the care of her senile grandmother, who often mistakes Conrad for her deceased husband.
One day a salesman comes to the store where Gretchen works, and notices her writing in a journal. He's impressed by what he sees, and his interest leads Gretchen down a path she'd never have imagined. The consequences impact the entire colony.
In More Than Words, Miller follows her initial volume in the Daughters of Amana series, Somewhere to Belong, with further fascinating glimpses into the early Amana colonies. This novel was enjoyable on many levels. I recommend it to readers who enjoy family-friendly stories set around lifestyles different than our own.
My thanks to Bethany House for providing my review copy.
More Than Words - A Charming Read that I recommend
October 9, 2010
A J Hawke
Age: Over 65
This review was written for .
Gretchen Kohler is discontent with aspects of her life in the Amana colony, which is all that she has ever known. But she hungers for more of a way to express herself than is allowed. So she writes her secret journals that she fills with her stories and poems. She only wants to know if her writing is worthy and when a traveling salesman offers to find out for her, she goes against the rules of the community. With the support of her childhood sweetheart, she must find the path of contentment within the confines of the world she lives in.
Judith Miller has spun a story with action, suspense and emotion that is just right for a lazy evening of reading. It is also a great read-aloud book for mothers and daughters. I recommend this book for age 13 and up.
I was so entranced by Judith Miller's Daughter's of the Amana Colonies books. Living in Nebraska I am very aware that the Amana Colonies are in Iowa but I've never been there. Now that I have read the first two in this series I can not wait to make a trip there and see them in person! Judith absolutely brought the colonies to life for me and I learned so much about the colonies and how they work. I realized that while many people (like myself) tend to lump the Amish, Mennonites and people of the Amana Colonies all under the Amish label, there are really a lot of differences between them and Judith highlights a lot of the ways that the people living in the Amana Colonies are different. I found it fascinating. Then she creates this group of characters that are just wonderful and there is even some mystery woven into the story with the band of gypsies camped outside town and who started the fire and why things are disappearing. I don't think I could have been more pleased with this book.
More Than Words by Judith Miller is the second book in the Daughters of Amana series. Gretchen Kohler is mostly content working in the town store, although she misses her father's affection and attention that has waned since the death of her mother. He often leaves her in charge of the stores and of younger brother Stefan, which creates trouble when the Gypsies come to town and Stefan just can't seem to stay away. Gretchen loses herself writing in her journal. She composes poems and essays until Allan Finley arrives in the small community claiming a desire to joining them and shows an interest in Gretchen that no one but barber and childhood sweetheart Conrad has been giving her. Although Gretchen is often angry at Stefan for breaking the strict rules of their community, she's just as guilty, but it's easy for her to rationalize away her own actions until her pride causes damage to the entire community in a way she didn't see coming, and it just may cause her to lose her standing within the village and the love of Conrad. It's not necessary to have read the first book in the series because I didn't notice any reference to the characters from the first novel. I would have liked to see just a glimpse of them though. Gretchen is completely likable is impulsive young woman that readers will alternately want to hug and shake silly. I felt that Conrad was a bit too bland for Gretchen, although he did prove himself true, I understood her attraction for Allan. There's a strong message here about not judging a group by a single representative of it. I don't feel that this was as strong as the first book in the series, but it's still an enjoyable read.