I enjoy listening to relaxing stories when I lay down at night and Beverly Lewis’ novels as audiobooks are just right for that purpose. These books might be called an Amish soap opera, but one where every character cares about others in the family and community. Of course there are some very troubling secrets from the past that cause a mother to first wander about the fields at night and then leave home without telling her husband or children. The oldest daughter, Grace sees her leave with the community taxi driver. Suspicion and gossip pervade the community and Grace with her new friend Heather search for Grace’s mother in out of state communities where cousins reside. Heather is an interesting character too as she, an outsider to the Amish community, has been diagnosed with cancer and elects to ignore her doctor’s advice and seek traditional cures.
Start with The Secret before moving on to The Missing and The Telling. And for more novels about the Amish, check out our bibliography titled The Plain People.
Life with Strings Attached by Minnie Lamberth (2005)
Life with Strings Attached, Minnie Lamberth’s first novel, is the winner of the Paraclete Press Award for Fiction. It is graced with strong writing and a decidedly southern charm. Set in Evergreen, Alabama, in the summer of 1972 seven-year-old Hannah Hayes is concerned with keeping her beagle Pumpkin free from the bad influences of the neighbor’s dog and convincing the adults in her life that she is called to be her community’s first girl preacher. Told with humor and insight this story is not sentimental, but is an authentic tale of growing up. It held me right up to the end!
Read reviews at Amazon.com and visit the author’s website.
The Book of Jane by Ann Dayton and May Vanderbilt (2007)
This contemporary chick lit retelling of the Biblical Book of Job has Jane Williams (who lives what her friends consider a perfect life), losing her high-profile job, boyfriend, and awesome NYC apartment all in the space of a day or so–not to mention her seriously sick dog and that mysterious facial rash. Sweet, romantic, funny and inspirational (but isn’t it annoying when characters don’t take some obvious action that could help resolve a problem?).
Check out our recommended list of other chick lit authors and read reviews of the book at Amazon.com
The Last Sin Eater by Francine Rivers (1998)
A well written novel of Christian faith. This is the story of an old Welsh custom of symbolically removing the sins of the deceased by eating a meal placed on the coffin. 10-year-old Cadi Forbes, growing up in the Smoky Mountains in the 1850s, is a child of Welsh immigrants whose old country beliefs require a sin eater when someone dies. The child becomes enthralled with this idea when she is present at the accidental death of her much beloved sibling.
Cadi looks for the sin eater, but her search is really a search for Jesus, and eventually she leads the community away from the notion of a sin eater and toward a fundamentalist faith in Jesus the redeemer.
Visit the author’s website for an excerpt, a reading guide, and the author’s responses to frequently asked questions. In 2007, The Last Sin Eater was made into a movie. You can request it from another library.