Monday, April 6, 2020

THE ENGLISCH DAUGHTER by Cindy Woodsmall and Erin Woodsmall

My thoughts: Typically, stories about the Amish portray a group of separatists whose faith is strict and one to which they dutifully adhere. Each faith community is a unique community of believers who blindly follow the rules of their order and the bishop that presides over their faith community. Community is inclusive of farmers, business people, families, singles. Their rules for entering the church and the community are to be completely followed or result in shunning of the individual. But the shunning impacts the individual's family in a emotionally disturbing way.

The Amish community in which The Englisch Daughter takes place is somewhat different. Typically, the Amish do not allow for phones on one's person and in the home. They also do not allow for computers. The exception is occasionally made when it is required for a business and must be approved by the bishop. In The Englisch Daughter the use of cell phones and knowledge of computer usage is extant and seemingly not frowned upon. They still don't have their own cars and trucks relying on buggies. However, they do call for an Uber using their cell phones. So the community in which this story takes place is strict in some of the Amish constraints but not others.

The co-authors have beautifully written how men and women interact in marriage both Amish and otherwise.The overbearing and all-authoritarian status of men with the wife and mother being homemakers and servants in the home without any decision making capabilities is typical of the Amish. It is, too, typical of many non-Amish homes. This story brings out the struggle of women to be appreciated, respected, and involved in more than a servant's role in marriages.

As with other Cindy Woodsmall beautifully crafted stories, The Englisch Daughter is a wonderful read that will take the reader through a series of emotional rides as they become mentally involved with the plight and heartbreak of Jemima, the betrayed wife, and as they bear the heartbreaking distancing of Abigale and Chris. The book's ending has a superb twist that could only have been discovered through the use of cell phones and computers - how surprising in an Amish story.

I highly recommend.

About the book: What happens when your spouse has become a stranger?

Old Order Amish wife and mother Jemima Graber has put her marriage and young children ahead of herself for years. For the last decade she’s set herself aside while her husband, Roy, invested in the family’s successful horse farm. While raising four little ones, she’s followed all the rules and patiently waited to finally chase a dream of her own.

But now, at the time when her dreams are about to be realized, Roy has grown distant from Jem, and she doesn’t know what to make of his unusual moods and absences. Is his erratic behavior somehow connected to the tenant in the family’s rental property, an Englisch woman Roy dated during his rumschpringe days? And if so, how far does God’s forgiveness extend in impossible situations?

CINDY WOODSMALL is a New York Times and CBA best-selling author of twenty-five works of fiction and one nonfiction book. Cindy’s writing has been featured on ABC’s Nightline and the front page of the Wall Street Journal. She lives outside Atlanta with her husband.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary advanced reader's copy to facilitate a review. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given.

ERIN WOODSMALL is a writer, musician, wife, and mom of four. She has edited, brainstormed, and researched books with Cindy for almost a decade. More recently she and Cindy have coauthored five books.

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