Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Winnowing Season by Cindy Woodsmall

No compensation was received for this post. A complimentary review copy was provided to me as a participant in Blogging for Books. All opinions are my own or that of my family.

There is something very intriguing about the Amish lifestyle to me. It all started back when I was in high school. Our neighbors and good friends moved to north central Indiana, right near several Amish communities. I had always been a big fan of Little House on the Prairie and here was a modern day group that was living like it was still the late 1800s. My husband likes to tease me about my enjoyment of books with an Amish backdrop and what he thinks they might be about.

The Winnowing Season by Cindy Woodsmall is just one such book. As the story opens, we find the Kings and Bylers have recently decided to go into business together but those plans were disrupted by a tornado that destroyed the orchard, so now they are on their way to Maine to revitalize an orchard there and establish a new community. This book is the second in the Amish Vines and Orchards series, but I don't feel like I lost anything in not reading the first book. The author did a good job providing background information to help the new reader understand and to remind those that might have read the first book.

The book is told primarily from the perspective of Rhoda and her business partner Samuel and they are perhaps the better developed characters in the story, but there are parts of the story that shed more light onto Rhoda's boyfriend Jacob and his sister Leah. I really like the love stories that run through the book and how even the good relationships seem so complicated. There is a mix of known loves that are shared with the world and others that are tucked away and kept private by the individual or even the couple. Samuel is in love with Rhoda, but because his brother is courting her, he tries to hide it, but makes her upset when this makes he seems removed. Leah seems to have a connection with Landon, but how much is him and how much is his ability to help her experience the English world. Jacob is courting Rhoda, but how strong can their relationship be when he is hiding so much of her past from her.

Cindy Woodsmall does a good job writing about the interaction between the Amish and English world. She illustrates well the challenges faced by the Amish, with their naive understanding of English world. She also shows the way that the Amish rely on their English neighbors and partners, but equally so are reluctant to be dependent on them for fear that they will lose their independence.

Much of the book is about the faith of the characters and how it drives their actions (or inactions in some cases). They put their trust in and have faith in God's will and believe that everything will turn out okay. This was especially true when Rhoda came under investigation later in the book (can't tell you more - that would ruin the story). It shows how there are different paths for all of us. It provides a reminder that God has His plan for us and we can't always control what those paths or plans are.

I really enjoyed the book, but felt a little disappointed at the end of the book when there were things left unresolved...things that had come up repeatedly along the course of the book but were left unanswered. I do like a cliffhanger as much as the next person, but I prefer a book that leaves me wanting more...not feeling like I missed something. I look forward to the next book in the series, so that I can get some resolution on the unresolved issues from this book.

The tornado that devastated Kings’ Orchard pushed Rhoda, Samuel, and Jacob to make a new start in Maine. Are they strong enough to withstand the challenges of establishing an Amish community—and brave enough to face the secrets that move with them?

On the eve of their departure to begin a new Old Order Amish community outside of Unity, Maine, Rhoda Byler is shocked to discover that choices made by her business partner and friend, Samuel King, have placed her and her unusual gifts directly into the path of her district’s bishop and preachers. She is furious with Samuel and is fearful that the Kings will be influenced by the way her leaders see her, and not what they know to be true—that Rhoda’s intuition is a gift from God.

Jacob King won’t be swayed by community speculation. He loves Rhoda, believes in her, and wants to build a future with her in Maine. But when the ghosts of his past come calling and require him to fulfill a great debt, can he shake their hold before it destroys what he has with Rhoda? Samuel has a secret of his own—one he’ll go to great lengths to keep hidden, even if it means alienating those closest to him. Throwing himself into rehabilitating the once-abandoned orchard, Samuel turns to a surprising new ally.

Book 2 of the Amish Vines and Orchards series asks: can the three faithfully follow God’s leading and build a new home and orchard in Maine? Or will this new beginning lead to more ruin and heartbreak?

You can find this book both in a physical copy and as an eBook, through your favorite retailers.

Please take a moment and rank my review:

No compensation was received for this post. A complimentary review copy was provided to me as a participant in Blogging for Books. All opinions are my own or that of my family.


Robin Wilson said...

I find the Amish, their religion and culture fascinating as it is so far at the other end of the spectrum as my own. I think this is very good book for someone like me based on your review. Great story along with learning more.