The Harvest of Grace by Cindy Woodsmall is the third book of a three book series: Ada's House. This trilogy reminded me how much I enjoy books by this author. Ms. Woodsmall creates tales with emotional dynamics that pulls me in, keeps me reading intently without wanting to put down the book, and connect with the well-developed characters so that I feel I have a vested interest in the outcomes.
The author begins this book with a new character, Sylvia. She is an Amish woman from a community further away from the communities this series focuses on. In her household, there are all daughters, with Sylvia being the oldest. She alone loves the dairy farming, and with the knowledge she gained from her grandfather, has built up her father's herds over the many years. She has been engaged to be married for awhile, but suddenly her fiance declares his love for her sister and marries her. Living in the same household has become unbearable both because of her heartbreak and the deception of her closest friend and sister. She insists on moving to another community. She begins working for Michael Blank and his wife in Dry Lake.
There, she meets Aaron Blank after he has come home from rehab. Aaron's purpose is to help his aging parents sell their dairy farm and move to his new community and work with him at a hardware store he is buying. He wants to take care of them. Sylvia's at cross purposes with Aaron, because she wants to make the Blank dairy farm profitable again and build up the herd as she had done at home. This conflict is the core of the book.
But as the third book in the series, other storylines that had begun in books one and two continue as well. So we find Deborah and Jonathan in a relationship, Cara and Ephraim continue their courtship and Cara makes progress toward joining the Amish faith, while Lena recovers from her emotional and physical injuries from the events of the previous book.
Again, like all the other books in this series, this is not a stand alone book. It is integral to the entire storyline and you need to read the first two books in order to understand the direction and scope. Saying this, I found this book hard to put down. It very effectively wraps up all the loose ends of all the relationship dynamics covered in the three books. There are even new dynamics for Cara when her birth father shows up and the Amish leaders decide she must develop a relationship with him in spite of her feelings about him. This struggle so touched my heart. How can Cara overcome a lifetime of neglect and abandonment?
If you enjoy living, breathing characters, especially relationship struggles and their resolutions, then you'll love this story. This author does not do pie-in-the-sky-by-and-by type story telling. Her characters deal with real issues you and I can relate to. I was left feeling like I was part of the community, knowing the hearts of people I care about. The author writes this development so well, that I am compelled to read other books by her. I want more of this type of dynamic writing. And you can be sure I will be reading this trilogy over and over again, without feeling as if it were growing old. I highly recommend this series, and this author.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from Bethany House (a division of Baker Publishing). I was not required to write a review, positive or otherwise. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
The Harvest of Grace will stay with you long after the last page is turned. There are no minor characters - each one is carefully and lovingly created and nurtured. You know why each one hurts and how great each triumph is. The story is rich and pulls you in. A real must read for every fan of Amish novels.
I love Cindy Woodsmall's "Ada's House" series. They are wonderful books! 'The Harvest of Grace' is the 3rd book in the series ('The Bridge of Peace' was #2, see my review here). These books are very well-written with love stories, drama, conflict, and pretty much everything you'd expect in a real-life story, but these things are all packed into Cndy Woodsmall's novels.
In 'The Harvest of Grace' Sylvia wants to be able to run the farm that she loves, but can't do that because of her gender. In the beginning of the book, her boyfriend asks her to marry him and she asks him to wait. He marries her sister, which crushes her completely. She lives on the same farm with them trying to be the best she can but one day something happens between them and she knows she has to leave her family farm. Many things happen after this, many conflicts and many resolutions.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone who loves to read fiction. I loved it!
This is the 3rd book in the "Ada's House Series" by Cindy Woodsmall. As you can imagine, I have not at this point read the first two books in the series. I will say, though, that even without reading the first two books, I wasn't as lost as I expected myself to be. There is enough of a back story, plus almost new characters to lend this book to almost being a stand alone title.
Sylvia Fisher is not an ordinary Amish woman. Being the oldest of all girls with no brothers her father has let her run the herd but not have a lot of say in the farming. This has caused her to seek out duties such as tending to her family's dairy herd and milking cows to normal duties of tending children and managing a household. Having scorned a suitable Amish suitor, she is forced by guilt to leave her home and beloved family farm and seek refuge with another couple, the Banks'. The Banks are a couple that have been devastated by the of their daughter a year ago and a son that is away at rehab for alcohol abuse.
Upon Aaron's return, his plan is to persuade his parents into selling the farm and moving with him into town. Although Sylvia has become attached to the couple and to their farm, she must join with Aaron and his plan in order to see her own dreams fulfilled. Will they sell the farm? Do Sylvia and Aaron give in to their mutual attraction? BUY THE BOOK!!!
I will say that the book was very well written, just not really my genre of reading. The characters were well defined, the story was paced appropriately and the plot was believable.
Is this a "Man's Book"? Not really. While I can say that the book was well written, I can also say that I can't imagine too many men reading this book. Doesn't mean that it wasn't a good book, just not really for men.
I received this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.
Sylvia Fisher's beau Elam finally asked her to marry him, but was she ready to give up everything she loved for him. She loves Elam but has spent most of her life helping her father on the dairy farm even to the extent of making suggestions to improve the farm and her father listened to her. Will Elam be willing to let her have an opinion in their marriage or will he expect her to take on the Old Order Amish role of the woman managing a household and raising babies only. When she finds out that Elam signed a contract with her father to take over half of the farm without asking her, it makes her wonder even more what her role would be in their marriage.
When Sylvia takes too long to give him an answer, Elam marries her sister Becky. Sylvia's father won't let her leave the farm so she stays home but after a dangerous incident she demands that he let her leave. She moves to Michael and Dora Blank's dairy farm to help him. Since she's left home her father refuses to let her have any contact with anyone in her family so she soon feels like Michael and Dora are her family.
The Blank's are in desperate need of help since their son Aaron left several months ago and Michael suffers from rheumatoid arthritis. Aaron is an alcoholic, driven to drink by the treatment from his dad after his sister was killed in a freak accident, which they each blames himself for. Aaron gets help for himself and returns home to help his dad and talk his parents into selling the farm. He wants them to help run an Amish appliance store, which he has put money down on to purchase, in three months.
Michael continues to treat Aaron terribly while he accepts the help he is giving them on the farm. Sylvia dislikes Aaron because his plans will ruin her plans to live their and farm, since she feels like she'll never be able to return home again. It is a constant battle, difference of opinions, will any of them ever give in, it seems to be two against one? Will Sylvia ever get to see her parents and sisters again and where will home be for her? When Aaron realizes that Sylvia has become a like a hermit, not going to church, not seeing friends, etc. he forces her to take time off from work which she also resents and thinks he's trying to get her to agree to selling the farm.
Cindy did her usual great job and held my interest and jogged my memory of the first book so I wasn't lost. Sylvia, Michael and Aaron are all three strong willed people with their own plans. I have a lot of family members like that so it hit close to home for me. I read the first book in this series a long time ago, thought I had the second one but discovered I didn't. I plan on going back and reading the second one though. This is a good story about personal struggles and how different personalities deal with them.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BloggingforBooks.org book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."