3 November 2011

Review: The Healing by Wanda E Brunstetter

Samuel Fisher has just lost his beloved wife, Elise, mother of their four small children. Living in their shared family home has too many reminders of their life together, so he decides to move from Pennsylvania to Kentucky, to the Amish community where his younger brother, Titus, now lives. Once there Samuel begins working as a painter and general handyman for an ‘English’ woman, Bonnie, who is opening a Bed-and-Breakfast in her grandmother’s old home. Samuel hires Esther, a local Amish woman, to look after his children while he works, and Esther rapidly forms an attachment with the grieving children who are being virtually ignored by their father. She develops feelings for Samuel as well, but will he heal from his loss and see what could be? And if he does, will he return Esther’s feelings, or will he form a bond with Bonnie despite her not being Amish?

The only Amish books I have read until now have been by Beverley Lewis, and have been exclusively set in the Old Order Amish communities of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. This book was set in a less conservative Amish community, and there were a number of noticeable differences, particularly the way the Amish characters in this community appear to know and are able to quote appropriate Bible verses, so this was a pleasant change. (I find the rules of the Old Order Amish to be very restricting, similar to the Jewish law outlined in Leviticus).

The Healing is the second book in the Kentucky Brothers series, following The Journey. Although it is obvious that it is part of a series, it reads well as a stand-alone (although I suspect from the way further back-stories are hinted at that some of the minor characters are part of other Brunstetter books, and it is clear that the Timothy/Hannah sub-plot existed only to set the background to the next book in the series). I’m sure that fans of Wanda Brunstetter or Amish fiction in general will enjoy this book, but I found the constant German phrases annoying, the ending was a complete cliché, and the Timothy/Hannah subplot came across as an over-engineered conflict that could have been solved by an honest conversation between Timothy and his father-in-law. Of course, that would mean there couldn’t be a whole book dedicated to it… As you have no doubt guessed, I won’t be reading the sequel.

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