I have a certain fascination with the Amish lifestyle -- I love their work-ethic, their simplicity, their community-lifestyle, their handcrafts. I love reading about them, watching documentaries about them and even have visited some of their towns ... and gazed longingly on their work (can't afford to buy their lovely quilts and other handmades ... maybe someday!)
So I really enjoyed the opportunity to read and review Thomas Nelson's latest publication -- Sarah's Garden: A Patch of Heaven Novel by Kelly Long. This book, a fictional account of a romance between an Amish woman and Englischer, is very well-written with lots of great detail about the Amish lifestyle I respect and admire. Sarah, the twenty-year-old protagonist has a new neighbor: Englischer veterinarian, Dr. Grant Williams. How she deals with her growing maturity and increasing love for an outsider, while experiencing the ever-changing rhythms of her own family is the general plot.
The food, crafts and lifestyle of the Amish are embraced in this story -- described in loving rather than derogatory passages -- Ms. Long obviously loves the Amish and what they do and why they do it. Her story is a refreshing addition to the romance market -- a good story with good characters and a good theme.
I particularly enjoyed the conclusion of this story -- it fits with the overall characterizations and message that is basically a restating of the Gospel message where Jesus tells his disciples they must have no God before His God, they will potentially need to lose family, friends, and current lifestyle to embrace God's will and follow Him! A basic tenet of the Catholic faith is that we must know, love and serve Him; this is reiterated throughout Sarah and Grant's story of believing in Der Herr.
I do have to say that the "voice" of this story is quite young -- Kelly Long must be a young author. For instance, when describing Dr. Grant's servants, she describes them as "At nearly a spry sixty-years-old each" .... I know "spry" 80 year olds that would take great exception to such a comment! Some of her other comments throughout the book betray the youth of the author. Overall the book is a great relaxing read (especially in an air-conditioned room when the temp outside is pushing "upper 90s"). I also wish Ms. Long had included links to some of the amazing foods she mentions ... my mouth was watering my fingers were itching to make some of these things for my family.
Go ahead and give this book, Sarah's Garden a try -- for summer reading it really can't be beat.
Disclaimer: this book was given free as a part of Thomas Nelson's Book Sneeze program. The review above is my own, honest reaction to this book.