Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Quilters Daughter - Book Review

The Quilters Daughter
by Wanda E. Brunstetter
Barbour Publishing (Ohio)
Authors Website

We have all heard of Lancaster County, right? That county in Pennsylvania where the Amish people live? Well, Wanda Brunstetter loves writing about the Amish people and she has written a number of books about them. Almost all involving a romance story. 

This book is Book 2 in the Daughters of Lancaster County series. The first thing to understand is that there are Amish people all over the USA - and in Ohio there is also a large Amish community as well. This community is centred around Holmes County and the town of Berlin - not far from Canton, Ohio

Now because this is book 2, there is a rather large piece of back story missing, as all 3 books in this series are all about the same family.  In Book 1 of the Daughters of Lancaster County- the Shopkeepers Daughter - the daughter Naomi, puts her baby brother Zach down and leaves him for a few minutes. When she returns he is missing - kidnapped. And apart from one advertisement in a newspaper, he has not been seen or heard from since and no ransom demand ever shows up. Naomi's mother had died giving birth to Zach, and some time later Naomi's father (Abraham) remarries - to an Amish woman named Fannie Mae.

In Book 2 - Fannie Mae - who had come from the Amish community in Berlin, Ohio - is pregnant with twins and is having a hard time coping,. She has been put on complete bedrest so she cannot do the house and family chores. Her daughter (from her first marriage)  Abby Miller (she runs a quilt shop in Berlin) offers to come and help Fannie in Lancaster County. Abby is about to get married to Lester. Fannie also runs a quilt shop in Lancaster County.

Abby puts her marriage on hold and cones to stay with her mother. She meets her step siblings - Naomi, Matthew, Jake and Norman. Only Naomi is married with children. None of Fannie's step sons are married yet despite being in their 20s and being eligible for marriage. The Amish dont arrange marriages. The children are allowed to find their own partners - but marriage is encouraged from age 18 upwards.

Some months later, Fannie gives birth to her twins. Abby continues to stay in Lancaster and takes over all the household chores. She seems to be reluctant to return to Berlin. She has not been sleeping well - she has a recurring nightmare about a fire and a kitten. One day she gets a phone call from Berlin to be told that her quilt shop back home was burnt to the ground and that her fiance Lester died trying to save the precious quilts inside. Abby returns to Berlin for the funeral. She then returns to Lancaster County and takes over all the chores of raising the twins, cleaning the house and cooking all the food for her mother and her stepfathers family.

Abby has to keep herself busy so that she doesnt break down and start blaming herself for her fiance's death. If she had returned to Ohio earlier, the shop would not have burned down, Lester would still be alive, and she would now be married to him.

Fannie's cousin takes Abby off to Montana in order to give Abby a new perspective on life. Abby learns that it is Gods will that these things happen and while it does hurt to lose a loved one, you cannot blame yourself and nothing you could have done or said will necessarily have made a difference.

Abby eventually returns to Lancaster Country and admits to her step-brother that she is finally ready to move on with her life. Matthew asks if he can court her - and Abby indicates that yes she is interested.

Interspered with chapters about Abby and her family, we also have chapters about young Jimmy Scott, adopted son of Jim and Linda Scott who live in Washington state. Linda does not know this, but Jim stole Baby Jimmy from a table in the back yard of an Amish home in Pennsylvania and his conscience has been bothering him ever since. This leads to him become rude, curt and working long hours. He is a contract painter - he paints buildings. Their marriage is breaking down and Linda does not know why,

It also doesnt help that Linda is very overprotective of young Jimmy - almost smothering him - and she barely allows him out of her sight all day. She makes a new friend who encourages her to attend church. Linda becomes a christian and then tries to get her husband to become a christian as well. Of course Jim has no interest.

When Jim's father is diagnosed with heart problems and must have surgery, Linda purchases plane tickets for the family to return to Ohio to see his father. Jim is not happy as it reminds him about the Amish from whom he stole baby Jimmy.

Nothing further is resolved about Jimmy other than Jim gets rid of the Amish quilt, the baby had been wrapped in,. The baby quilt ends up in Montana where it is given to Abby who takes it home to Lancaster Country and gives it to Naomi. Naomi recognises it as being Zach's quilt because she is the one who repaired it after one corner of it was torn. So this means that Zach is alive and living in Washington state.

Book 3  takes place some years in the future. Jimmy Scott discovers that he was born in Pennsylvania and returns to that state to find his family. He meets and falls in love woth Leona Weaver - the Bishops Daughter,. And yes the Amish do have bishops.

While I personally did not like all the bible verses and the christian backstory of the Scotts, I did enjoy reading about the Amish culture. If I see books 1 or 3 of this series, I will read them, but I wont go out of my way to look for them.

One reason I like the Amish people is that they have a much simpler life - they live a slower life - almost like the early pioneers did - and I for one would love to return to that simpler life - although I would really miss the computer and the internet in the process.  But that is what books are for. So it's a good thing I love reading too.