Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Book Review: Plain Paradise by Beth Wiseman

Winner of the 2010 Inspy Award for Amish Fiction

About the book:

Linda's Amish life seemed like paradise. Until she found out her family had been hiding a secret since the day of her birth.

Josie was just a frightened teenager when she left her baby in the care of an Old Order Amish couple in Lancaster County. Since then, seventeen years have passed and while much has changed, one thing hasn't. Josie still longs to reconnect with her daughter Linda.

But Linda is unaware of Josie--and living an idyllic life within the Amish community. The bishop's grandson, Stephen, is courting her and she hopes that he will propose soon. When her birth mother comes to Paradise, Linda finds herself unexpectedly drawn to Josie's world. Meanwhile, her adoptive parents--and her Amish beau--are trying to understand how this interruption in Linda's life could possibly be God's will.

As new relationships begin and old ones are tested, no one's life will remain the same. In the process of losing and letting go--Linda realizes whose daugther she really is. And as only God can do, something more powerful and far more beautiful is forged within the Daugthers of the Promise community...hope.

My thoughts:

I've been on an Amish fiction binge lately, and recently stumbled upon some great books by Beth Wiseman.  Let me just say that I think I've found another favorite Amish author (what???....it's not like you can have too many)!  :o)  I just finished Beth's fourth book in her Daughters of the Promise series, Plain Paradise, and it definitely ranks in the Top 10 of my all-time favorite Amish books.  It's a story that I've read several times--never from an Amish perspective--about a mother who gives up her child for adoption, then after many years, searches to find this child and build a relationship.  Only thing is...there's not much time for Josie to find Linda, and make up for lost time.

What I have really come to love about Beth's books is that they are perfect for a new Amish reader.  Her style of writing gives a lot of factual information about the Amish, but the info flows very well with the rest of the story.  Now, I've been reading Amish fiction since Beverly Lewis hit the market, and while I'm no expert, I know the basics.  Since I've been reading Beth's books, I love that I'm discovering new things that I didn't know.  Until I read Plain Paradise, I didn't know that the Amish don't feel it is their calling to minister to others (yes, you read that right).  When I read that, I actually had to take a second look, and then, mull it over for a minute.  I came to the conclusion that this "rule" is probably in place to keep them even more secluded, and not unequally yoked with non-believers (another tidbit mentioned in this book that goes beyond the marital aspect that most of us are familiar with).  Furthermore, it keeps them away from any temptation of going against their Ordnung, or being led astray by something fancy in the Englisch world.  Instead of direct ministering, it appears that they choose to live their lives as an example to others of their faith and trust in God.  Wow...what a great witness, and a selfless one at that!! 

Amish fiction is not for everyone, but since I've been reading so much of it lately, I've developed a much greater admiration for thier simple lifestyle.  As we know, they aren't encumbered by a lot of things or distractions, and instead, focus their time and energy on living a life pleasing to the Lord.  Goes back to living by example, huh? 

All of the Daughters of the Promise books can be read in any order, but I would recommend reading them as they were released.  Each story builds upon the one prior, and continues the storylines of all the characters.  I cannot wait to read the conclusion to this series, Plain Proposal, due in March of 2011.  In the mean time, I'll be hunting for a copy of Beth's newest book, Seek Me With All Your Heart, which appears to be a spinoff of the Daughters of the Promise series.  Definitely looks to be some good reading!  :o)
4.5 Stars

**I received my copy of this book through PaperBackSwap, and was in no way influenced to write a review.

**Click here to read Beth's interview after she had been nominated for an Inspy Award.

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