October 08, 2011
An Amish Christmas by Cynthia Keller
This was a very charming story. It had some unbelievable elements, but by and large it really resonated with the way the world is today and the difference between standard culture and that of the Amish. It is a fictional story, so not everything is accurate, but it is a feel good type of story.
Meg Hobart is a housewife who's days are filled with her three kids activities, caring for their exceptionally large home and expensive things, and playing second to her busy businessman husband. Well, she's these things until Thanksgiving Day her husband decides to spring on her the fact that he lost his job back in August and only was pretending to go to work, and he lost the rest of their money, home, and cars in faulty investments. The only thing they own to their name is his old mustang and whatever money is in their wallets. Angered at first, she silently seethes as they make plans to go live with her parents (cold distant people)and break it to their spoiled bratty kids (with the exception of the youngest, he's a cutie). Things don't go to plan with this either though, on the way through Pennsylvania in the countryside they get lost and then in a car wreck trying to avoid a buggy on the road. The man who owns the buggy invites them back to his home for the night and when they learn their car will take awhile to repair extends that invitation to stay longer.
The kids hate it, and with the exception of Sam the youngest, are terrible and bratty while there. James and Meg struggle with their thoughts and feelings toward each other after such a big break in trust. The Amish family is very curious back and welcomes them easily into their home though, and they start to wonder, were they truly missing out by not enjoying the simple things in their life and spending more time as a family. And this is only a blip in their time before they have to figure out how to recover and find a new way for themselves to survive independent of Meg's parents.
The characters in this all tended to the extremes but they were well developed. Lizzie, the daughter I found especially annoying. First thing I would have done with that kid is toss her in an unmucked stall. The youngest was charming in only the way the young can be and he was ok. Meg was a bit too perfect at times and often played the martyr from the way the book was written while James was blamed for everything (even if he is a jerk it's never all one person's fault). The Amish I was happy to see were not portrayed as perfect, but were genuinely nice people with small problems of their own.
The writing was well done, not overly descriptive, but enough so that you got a great sense of the Amish farm. It was a bit slow going at first and then rushed at the end though. I almost would have wished to see it go the opposite way. There were a couple unbelievable moments in the plot which threw me off until I just learned to ignore it as it is fiction. While this isn't Christian fiction like a good portion of the Amish novels out there, it is very unoffensive and shouldn't be a problem for anyone to read. My only real big problem with this book is that it's titled Amish Christmas, but the actual Christmas part of the book is barely over a page. A more appropriate title might have been "An Amish Lesson."
It's a very hopeful type of story and I enjoy Keller's writing. I definitely plan on checking out more of her work.
An Amish Christmas