Life is difficult for a young widow like Hannah Brown. Although she lives near her parents and a dear brother she is lonely for her husband Adam, and lonely for the child they never had together. She focuses on their farm and her beloved herd of sheep but she faces hard choices. As a member of a Pennsylvania Amish community she feels she can not be an independent farmer, but must fill a more appropriate and expected role. She sells the farm to her brother and takes herself and her sheep to her sister Julia's farm home in Ohio. With four young children and debilitating arthritis, Julia needs her help and that is what a widowed sister does.
Hannah finds life hard in Ohio. Her brother-in-law is less than welcoming to her and downright hostile to her sheep. The work is onerous, the days are long, and friends are few, but Hannah perseveres and thrives.
This charmingly told gentle tale explores life in a contemporary Amish community. The families adhere to the old Plain traditions both in their relationships ("the man is the head of the house, and that is that"), as well as in the way the work is done. Most travel is by horse-drawn conveyances, although Hannah makes the long journey from Pennsylvania to Ohio by bus. There is no power in the houses but the modern world still plays a role in some areas. There is refrigeration if it is propane powered, and when Hannah and her niece begin to sell shawls woven from the hand-spun sheep's wool in an English (non Amish) knitting shop there is talk is of web-based marketing.
I do not usually read stories like this and set out on this book with some hesitation. Now I wonder why. It is a well-written story with the expected happy ending. While I shared Hannah's life I learned a great deal about an interesting group of people that I knew little of. I'll say it here that when the next book in the series comes out, you'll find me hoping for a rainy afternoon on the sofa.
Ohioan Mary Ellis has known and loved members of nearby Amish communities all of her life. She now lives with her husband in Medina County near a large Amish community. She is currently anticipating the publication of two more entries in the series chronicling the quiet dramas of the Miller family. You can learn more about her on her blog or visit her on Facebook.
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