This book was a bit unbelievable. I have read numerous Amish books in the past, but this one seemed to paint the Amish in a different picture. The hero (who is Amish) is a recovering drunk, the heroine (also Amish) kissed her sister's husband and ran away, they barely speak any Dutch or German. On the back of the book, it talks about Sylvia and Aaron. But half the book is about a woman named Cara forgiving and reviving a relationship with her once-drunk father. I didn't care much for Cara. I wanted to see more of Sylvia's relationship with Aaron.
There was also a bit of confusion at the beginning. She was introducing so many new characters, and not describing them, so I couldn't tell who was related/friends/married/etc with whom. I also, because of the lack of description, could not picture or imagine the characters very well.
However, I did enjoy the book, overall. It took a bit for me to get into it. The writing style was lovely. After a bit, I grew to enjoy the characters. My only big complaint is that, during the Epilogue, they never told us what happens to Aaron and Sylvia. The Epilogue was about Cara and her Amish fiance. At least, I think he's Amish. I was a bit unsure, because the author never really explained it. She said he had been shunned, but Cara was joining the community.
Cindy Woodsmall's "The Harvest of Grace" was definitely not my first foray into Amish fiction.
What struck me most was how real and relatable the characters were. Some books like this feel like the same character is replicated throughout. But in this book, Woodsmall engages you with men and women who feel like you.
The story is the continuation of a previous story line; however, Woodsmall does a great job of bringing you up to speed whether you have read previous books or not (although I had). It's also a story of forgiveness and redemption, from both points of view. Some characters enter the story seeking forgiveness while others have the greater challenge of offering forgiveness, erasing the debt of years -- sometimes decades -- of hurt.
I'm already a Cindy Woodsmall fan, and this book definitely did not disappoint.
The Harvest of Grace is a true romance in the making. It is well written with strong characters.
Sylvia is the oldest of nine girls, single, and leaves home which is unheard of in the Amish community. This happened when Sylvia and her brother-in-law, which happened to be her previous beau, could not keep their feelings in check. How did Elam go from being her boyfriend to her brother-in-law?
Sylvia takes a job at a Dairy Farm for an older couple, the Blanks. Their son Aaron, whom never wanted to be a farmer, comes home following rehab trying to convince his parents to leave the farm and move to town with him. Instead he finds Sylvia trying to help his Dad get the farm back in the red. Will Sylvia and Aaron work out their differences?
There are several other romances taking place and developing in the story also. Cara ended up in Dry Lake with her daughter Lily. Cara grew up in the Bronx, her mom died when she was young and her dad abandoned her. Cara has found her self head over heels in love with of all people an Amish man. Will Cara ever get through her training and learn the Amish ways? Can she leave her old life behind?
There is also Lena Mast who has a large birthmark on the side of her face; she is in love with Grey. Grey also loves her but he is an upstanding Amish man who lost his wife last year. They have to wait out a mourning period before they can proceed with their life together.
There are a few other characters you can meet and answer all the questions when you read the book The Harvest of Grace. This is a very good fast paced book. There is a lot going on and it keeps your interest.
I received this book free from Blogging for Books at Waterbrook Press Publishing as part of their Blogger Review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
The Harvest of Grace by Cindy Woodsmall is the 3rd book in the "Ada's House" series. Even though I had not read the first two books I was able to enjoy this story on it's own. I live in the midst of a large Amish community in northern Indiana, and am usually not a fan of Amish fiction, feeling that it doesn't portray the real life of the Amish, at least in my experiences with them. Cindy Woodsmall's books are the exception to me - her stories are believable yet entertaining.
In this story, Sylvia is a mid-20's Amish woman who loves working on her family's dairy farm. She is the oldest of 9 daughters, so there are no sons to take over the farm (Amish tradition is that the males usually have priority in inheriting land). She has been dating an Amish man, but this relationship falls apart and she leaves her family to go to work on another dairy farm a distance away without telling her sisters where she is going. Once on the Blank farm, she meets the sole surviving Blank child, Aaron, who is returning from treatment for alcoholism. Aaron has dreams to sell his parents farm, which is deeply in debt, and buy an appliance shop, but Sylvia is determined to work at all costs to save the farm. They end up working closely on the farm and their strong personalities and differences of opinion clash frequently. Sylvia does end up reconciling with her family, and they find a way to save the farm and keep it operating. I enjoyed reading this book.
You can read an excerpt of the first chapter at the publisher's website.
I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review, but the opinion of the book is mine.