Friday, January 14, 2011
Book Review: Courting Miss Amsel by Kim Vogel Sawyer
Edythe Amsel is delighted with her first teaching assignment: a one-room schoolhouse in Walnut Hill, Nebraska. Independent, headstrong, and a strong believer in a well-rounded education, Edythe is ready to open the world to the students in this tiny community. But is Walnut Hill ready for her?
Joel Townsend is thrilled to learn the town council hired a female teacher to replace the ruthless man who terrorized his nephews for the past two years. Having raised the boys on his own since their parents' untimely deaths, Joel believes they will benefit from a woman's influence. But he sure didn't bargain on a woman like Miss Amsel.
Within the first week, she has the entire town up in arms over her outlandish teaching methods, which include collecting leaves, catching bugs, making snow angels, and stringing ropes in strange patterns all over the schoolyard. Joel can't help but notice that she's also mighty pretty with her rosy lips, fashionable clothes, and fancy way of speaking.
When Edythe decides to take her pupils to hear Miss Susan Anthony speak on the women's suffrage amendment, the town's outcry reaches new heights. Even Joel isn't sure he can support her newfangled ideas any longer. And if he can't trust her to know how to teach the boys, how can he trust her with his heart?
It's been awhile since I've read a historical romance that was as good as this one. While the storyline itself wasn't anything new to the world of books, the delivery of the story was what really captured my attention. Kim's style of writing was so pleasant and easy-going. It felt like I was getting together with an old friend over a glass of sweet tea.
Her characters were down-to-earth people that really cared about one another (even though some were too nosy and troublesome for their own good). "Miz" Kinsley was one of my favorites because she never hesitated to tell it like she saw it. Her character was there to show Edythe that she could run her life on her own for only so long. She cared about Edythe beyond just being her landlord; her desire and prayer was to see Edythe relinquish control of her life over to the Lord. I also really enjoyed Joel's character, and especially his relationship with his nephews. I could picture those boys in my mind's eye as being very cute little youngsters that could've been some michevious little rascals if not for their constant desire to please their Uncle Joel and teacher, Miss Amsel.
Another thing I really enjoyed about this book was the conversation. Now, Edythe was a very intelligent lady, but almost too intelligent for the people of Walnut Hill. When she arrived spouting her big vocabulary, most folks had to ask her to repeat it. Over time, she became a little easier to relate to. In the mean time, though, what she heard from the townsfolk was some down-home lingo--"Miss" became "Miz," "courting" became "courtin'," and apparently, when one was sick with an illness of sorts, they were "stove up." I have to admit...that last one was a new one for me. :o)
Courting Miss Amsel was such a quick read that I wish it would've lasted longer! After just one book, I think Kim's already earned her place on my favorite author list. And since this was my first experience with Kim's books, I guess I need to go find another one now. :o)
**Thanks to Bethany House through CFBA for providing a copy for review.
**Click here for more information about the book as well as a link to read the first chapter.