Monday, May 16, 2011

Book Review: More Than Words by Judith Miller/4 Stars

About the book:

Gretchen Kohler is an Amana storekeeper's daughter with a secret passion for writing. But artistic pursuits are frowned upon in her conservative Amana village, so she confines her poems and stories to her journals, letting only close friends read them.

When a young reporter comes into her store, she believes she's found a kindred spirit. She shares a few of her stories with him--only to have her trust betrayed in the worst of ways, resulting in trouble for her entire community. The scandal is made even worse by the fact that gypsies have camped nearby and seem to be preying upon the Amanans' compassionate, pacifist nature. Will Gretchen lose her job, her reputation, and the love of her childhood beau all because of one bad decision?

My thoughts:

More Than Words took me on a delightful journey through the Amana Colonies in 1885, and Judith Miller captured my attention from the very first page.  I had no idea that I would experience such unique characters and cultures all in one book!  I gained knowledge about the Amana Colonies, as well as learned what the Gypsies were like at that point in history. 

For those that don't know, Amana members are often mistaken for Amish, when in fact, they are not connected at all.  The Amana members have no issues with using electricity, for example, and are always looking for ways to improve their quality of work as well as the speed in which it is accomplished.  They have a communal society where no one owns their own home, and each person has very few possessions.  This allows them to focus their time on God and His Word because they are not tied down to things or worldly desires.

The Gypsies, on the other hand, were very interesting, too.  I had no idea that they frequently kidnapped young children, and brought them into their society.  That tidbit was quite disturbing, but it was an important secondary part of the story.  I did know that they used Tarot cards and conjured up spells and such, but thankfully, those things were not mentioned much at all.

I found that I related very well with Gretchen, the main female character.  She had a desire for reading and learning that was enormous.  I couldn't imagine if I had to watch what I read in such a strict society, but I understood why they had their rules in place.  Thankfully, she had a very understanding father (most of the time), in addition to a very nosy brother.  She also had a very dreamy beau who was very patient and understanding....reminded me of my hubby.  :o)

More Than Words is book 2 in the Daughters of Amana series, but can easily be read as a stand-alone.  I had not read the first book prior to this one, and never felt like I had missed any back story.  For someone who is a fan of bonnet fiction, I enjoyed learning more about another society that wasn't Amish.  Their lifestyle is simple, but interesting, and I imagine most fans of Amish fiction would find the Amana society to be a nice diversion in their reading fare.  My rating is 4 Stars.

Southern?  No
Sass?  Some; Gretchen had a tendency for not following the rules, which led to some pretty interesting convos with Conrad.  :o)

**Many thanks to Bethany House for providing a copy for review.

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