Saturday, January 12, 2013

An Amish Kitchen

An Amish Kitchen

By Beth Wiseman, Kelly Long & Amy Clipston

Published by Thomas Nelson, 2012.

This is another collection of novellas based around the experiences of the members of one Amish community in Paradise, Pennsylvania.

 It is a tried and tested format, and once again, it is both successful and enjoyable. A welcome bonus in this particular book is the welcome inclusion of 31 recipes for the Amish food mentioned in the stories: Soft Pretzels, Rose Petal Tea, Tomato Pie, Meat Loaf, Chicken In A Cloud and many more.

The stories themselves are relatvely short, gentle, spiritually nourishing and compelling reading, allowing insights into the very varied lives and characters, all of whom are united in their faith and their committment to living in their Amish community. Just as in any family, village or community, there are misunderstandings, conflicts, heartache and happinesss, and the people we meet are very much individuals.

In the first story by Kelly Long, we meet Fern Zook. Fern is a herbalist and healer for her community, who has been rigorously taught her craft by her loving - but forceful - elderly grandmother. Grandmother is keen to see Fern settled and content in a relationship before she passes on, and plays matchmaker between Fern and the critical Abram Fisher, who is caring for his younger siblings whilst his parents visit an ailing relative. His family responsibilities - and Grandmother's machinations - bring him into frequent contact with Fern, but will they manage to develop a relationship?

The second story by Amy Clipston introduces us to Hannah King and her family, who run a bed and breakfast guest house which generally caters to Englisch guests. The arrival of an Amish guest,Stephen Esh, who is looking to make a fresh start in a new community, piques her curiosity about his mysterious and tragic past.............

The final novella by Beth Wiseman introduces us to a whole family as we meet Eve Bender, who is faced with the stressful scenario of having to temporarily relocate her husband Benny and their rumbunctious young family back to her parents' home for two months while their own home is repaired after extensive storm damage. Her mother's health issues make for a truly poignant but amusing scene when she encounters her grandson's Chinese water dragon, and that is just one of the things Eve has to deal with during this difficult time. She grows closer to her mother than she had ever dreamed possible, and it turns out to be a period of great blessings for them all.

This is a gentle and intriguing collection of short stories, and one I enjoyed very much.
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