An Amish GiftBy Cynthia Keller
Random House Publishing Group,
30th October, 2012
I can’t quite place my finger on just how Cynthia Keller manages to produce books which tug at the heartstrings so. This looks at first glance like a mainstream Amish book, showing how an Amish family adapt to having Englisch neighbours, and vice versa, but it is so much more than that. She seems to have a rare and remarkable insight into what makes people – Amish and Englisch alike - tick.
In this book, we meet the Davis family, who have inherited a house as well as a cycle business from the husband Shep’s distant relative. Glad of the chance to finally have a home of their own, Jennie and Shep jump at this chance to make a new start. The children are less than thrilled to find they have to live in a dilapidated house next to an Amish farm, as well as having to adapt to making new friends and coping with new schools. The marriage is going through some financial and emotional stresses and strains, and Jennie does her best to keep the house and family running while Shep throws himself into his work but becomes more and more distant both from Jennie and the children.As her tentative friendship with her Amish neighbours grows, Jennie is more and more aware of how little family life she has compared to Mattie Fisher and her family, who manage to ultimately find happiness even in the difficult times they have to endure in the course of the story.
Jennie grits her teeth and searches for a solution to the financial, marriage and family problems that are besetting her, and finds a way to transform the way she looks at life as well as starting a business venture which will enable them to grow closer as a family. In the space of two Christmases, her life changes for the better, and she is able to support her high-achieving brother-in-law when his own life starts to fall apart.This is a feel-good book which makes the reader think. Do we have to settle for a half-baked family life, marriage or career? Or can we do things to improve our outlook on life, even if there is little we can do in concrete terms due to financial and other constraints? I thoroughly enjoyed reading this, just as much as I loved reading one of her other books, An Amish Christmas.