I saw this blend of Amish Romance and a Classical story retelling and I just had to read it as I love both. It was fascinating and a very strong story when all is said and done.
A mother and three sisters are forced out of their family home by the son, John of the first wife and his greedy second wife, Fanny. Only a distant cousin’s generosity allows them a chance to start fresh if a little on the precarious side financially. Oldest daughter, Eleanor, is calm, steady, thoughtful and practical. She carries a secret love for Fanny’s brother, quiet Edward Fischer who is promised to another. And the opposite of her older sister is Mary Ann who is emotional, impulsive, and wears her heart on her sleeve while falling for a bold, dashing man living in the neighborhood and spurning the quiet, mature man who remains steadfast, but unobtrusive. Through heartache, difficulties, and starting a new life, Eleanor, Mary Ann and their family grow and learn in faith and character.
Alright, so this tale of two sisters and their love lives was pretty close to the original as far as description of characters and events. I loved how the Amish background meshed so well with the classical style and elements so that even though this is a modern retelling of Austen’s Sense & Sensibility, it fit well into the Amish world where some of the cultural moors of Jane Austen’s day were a lot like those of the Amish.
The story is told from Eleanor’s observant and level-headed perspective. She was practically a saint as at first she tried to keep the peace between her mother and sisters and with her older half-brother and his wife while the family was still on the farm and then later she held it together when Mary Ann was pretty cruel as Eleanor tried to get her to be more circumspect and cautious. And then Eleanor had to endure the cruelty of Edward’s fiancée taking particularly delight in making Eleanor her confidant.
Mary Ann, the secondary heroine, needed a thumping. First she ran wild and then she went all dramatic. She was mean to her sister when Eleanor was trying to save her from the sorrow that did eventually come. Now, Mary Ann takes a hard knock or two and it finally sets her on a good path so she redeemed herself and became a loving sister and gets her own chance of happiness.
I really adored Christian who was quietly in love with Mary Ann even when she wouldn’t give him the time of day and was running around with the rakish John who had a reputation. This man was selfless and showed true heroism. Eleanor’s love interest, Edward, well, I respect him a little for keeping his word, but he didn’t get much page time until the end. When the truth came out, I felt badly for him and then happy for how it ended for him and Eleanor.
The setting of the Amish community was well drawn. It felt authentic. I had a good time with how even without all the modern conveniences and a devout faith, the gossip vine and the tight-knit community of folks all up in each other’s business was still present.
To summarize, this was a delightful story. I will definitely go back for more of the author’s Amish Classics series and her other books. There is a strong inspirational theme without preachiness. I would recommend this to those who enjoy Amish romance, but also those who enjoy classic retellings.
I received this book from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.
Romance Roundabout #228
NtM #95 author/series
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