Book Review: A Plain and Simple Christmas by Amy Clipston
About the book:
In the tradition of her widely popular Kauffman Amish Bakery series, author Amy Clipston tells the tale of Anna Mae McDonough who was shunned by her family four years ago when she left her Amish community in Lancaster County, PA, to marry an 'Englisher' (non Amish) man and move with him to Baltimore. Now, eight months pregnant when her first child, she longs to return home for Christmas to reconcile with her family, especially her stern father, who is the religious leader for her former Amish church district.
So Anne Mae writes a letter to Kathryn Beiler, her brother's wife, to enlist her help. Kathryn asks her husband, David, if she should arrange Anna Mae's visit. David cautions her that a visit would cause too much stress in the family and instead suggests they visit Anna Mae and her husband in the spring. However, Kathryn arranges the visit anyway, believing in her heart that it's God's will for the family to heal. When Anna Mae arrives in Lancaster for Christmas, she doesn't receive the welcome she expects and her world begins to fall apart, leaving her to question her place in her family -- and her faith in God.
A book filled with love, the pain of being separated from one's family, and the determination to follow God's will regardless of the outcome, A Plain and Simple Christmas is an inspiring page-turner that will keep you guessing what happens next...right to the very last page.
A Plain and Simple Christmas was my first experience with author Amy Clipston. Her writing style was exactly what this title implies--plain and simple--but don't let that discourage you from reading this book. She has created very likable characters (with the exception of Henry, the dad), and the plot draws the reader in very quickly.
Even though I knew there would be a happy, tidy ending, that did not stop me from reading this book from cover to cover in one sitting. When I reached the mid-way point, the drama increased, and I started to really wonder whether or not Anna Mae and her Englisch husband would be received well by her family and friends. Thanks to some scheming and planning by her sister-in-law, her first few moments back in Bird-in-Hand were memorable. But it wasn't until their next day's visit that things started to get hairy. Personally, I've been through some of those family moments where the tension is so thick, you could cut it with a knife. Amy relayed that same tension through the pages, and I have to admit, I was a bit worried for Anna Mae dealing with all this stress...all while pregnant with a baby whose arrival is not far away!
Prior to reading this book, I had not read either of Amy's other Amish novels which share the same characters as A Plain and Simple Christmas. I never once felt that it was difficult to relate to the characters, nor did I feel that I didn't have enough of their backstory. This book very easily stood on it's own, and it's a great addition to all of the other Christmas novellas available this season. My rating is 4 stars.
**Thanks to Zondervan through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers Program for providing a copy for review.