Rose's older sister, Hen, knows more than she should about falling for the wrong man. Unable to abandon her Amish ways, Hen is soon separated from her very modern husband. Mattie, their young daughter, must visit her father regularly, but Hen demands she wear Amish attire--and speak Pennsylvania Dutch, despite her husband's wishes. Will Hen be able to reestablish her place among the People she abandoned? And will she be able to convince Rose to steer clear of rogue neighbor Nick?
Beverly Lewis is a gifted storyteller. I enjoyed the story line about Rose who was a young woman with a love for her lifestyle and family. She has a heart for her sister who left the community and went into the world and was now facing marital issues that are heartbreaking to her family. The only real problem I had with the book is that it would seem, thus far, that the only faith real is Amish faith. Yes, one growing up in the Amish community would believe this. However, this idea is sadly not true. There are many Amish communities that are legalistic and live by separate rules made by man instead of the Bible. Many of the interpretation the Amish live by are poor. There is also the variety of modern things allowed or not allowed. Rubber tires on their bikes, versus no rubber. For a story that is stressing the love of God and community these things would be best omitted. There was a time in previous stories that authentic faith was always separate from Amish religious life. Sadly this is a new angle and seems to be a corner one would not want to go to. Aside from these things this story is an easy read and the characters are enjoyable.
If you're a fan of Amish fiction you will love this of course. If you're wanting to try Amish fiction you couldn't pick a better place to start.
Rose Ann has always known she wanted to stay in the faith, even skipping her rumspringa to join the church at fifteen. Her days are spent as the primary caregiver for her mother Emma, who was injured in a buggy accident several years prior that left her confined to a wheelchair with continuous pain. Rose works one day a week as a housekeeper/cook for an English neighbor Mr. Browning. There has always been stories that Mr. Browning's house is haunted, so when Rosie starts hearing noises upstairs, a place Mr. Browning has forbidden her to go, she is determined to figure out what is going on. When Rose has a bit of free time she is fond of reading and spending time with her best friend Nick Franco, and her love life starts to look promising when Silas Good starts calling on her, but Silas doesn't like the friendship she has with Nick. She also has Hen warning her against Nick, what will Rose do?
This story really moves along at a brisk pace, the author does a great job of giving us several different characters but presents them in such a way that you are drawn into each of their stories, giving us a glimpse of family structure, as well as the complexities of their daily life. While the main characters in the story are Rose and Hen, I found the secondary characters had rich stories of their own. The character of Nick, was compelling for me, plucked out of his English world to live among the amish had to be hard, and even though he had been with the community for years, he still longed for his English mother, although he was pretty good at hiding his feelings, Rose saw past his exterior and was the only friend he had.
I felt like this book was a great beginning for the Rose Trilogy, and since there are many unanswered questions I am anxious to read the next book in the series titled "The Judgement" due out April 1st.
I was provided a complimentary copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Hen’s sister, Rose, has never for a moment considered leaving the Plain life. Equipped with seemingly endless supplies of patience and energy, she cares not only for her invalid mother but also keeps house for an English widower whose own life is riddled with emotional pain and family secrets. Rose is a very likeable young woman. Indeed she is an object of intense interest to two neighboring young men, one whose feet are firmly planted in Amish soil and the other, the bishop’s foster son, whose restless heart is always roaming beyond the borders of Lancaster County. In her innocence and naiveté Rose is oblivious to the latter’s attraction to her. It is only after he leaves under suspicion of murder that she begins to reconsider her feelings for him.
Each sister stands at a crossroads and Lewis, with her usual finesse, leaves her readers longing for the next volume of the Rose Trilogy.
Rose Kauffman has always had a close relationship with the bishop's rebellious foster son, Nick. Nick though doesn't seem to embrace the Amish way of life. Rose's sister Hen returns to the Amish community with her young daughter, having left it several years ago to marry outside the Amish community. So you will watch these two sisters struggle with what to do about their future and how to stay true to their upbringing. It was a well told story.
Rose is already committed to the Church but seems torn between two men. Silas Good (already baptized) and Nick (not yet a member of their Church). Rose wants to think Nick is just a friend--but I'm not so sure of that. The book leaves off with Rose planning to marry Silas--we'll see if that happens. I suspect there might be some pitfalls for them along the way.
Hannah (called Hen) never joined the Church and married a man from "the world". She's not shunned but now that she's a mother, she feels a pull to go back to her roots. I'm not sure if Brandon, Hen's husband, is fearful she'll leave him and that's why he tries to get her to hide her roots/deny her roots. I'm also not sure if he just didn't think the puppy thing through or if he was trying to manipulate their daughter--maybe figuring Hen would come home if Mattie Sue chose to live at his house.
I'm still not quite sure what was at the root of Christian's and Nick's animosity toward each other. Did Christian resent the attention Nick got (kind of like the prodigal son got all sorts of attention when he returned making the son who'd stayed and done the right thing, jealous)? Did Christian also feel the pressure from the community for the Bishop's son to be "doing the right thing"? I wonder if what happened between Christian and Nick will become known?
Not wanting to further distress her invalid mother, Rose joined the church before she was even of the necessary age. She is a very responsible young woman, taking care of her mother, working as cook and housekeeper to a widower, and keeping up with all her chores around the house. Unless you count the times she takes off on rides with the bishop's moody foster son, and her best friend, Nick.
Nick was taken in by the bishop as a young boy when his alcoholic mother was unable to care for him any longer. He has always missed the outside world and spoken of one day going back, but he had hoped his mother would clean herself up and come for him. Having now reached the age of majority, he can stay or leave as he chooses, but something is keeping him in the Amish community.
Rose is being courted by an Amish boy, and is extremely happy about it, but she still feels a pull toward Nick. Knowing now, upon Hen's temporary separation from her husband and return with their daughter to the community, how unlikely it is to be permanently happy with an outsider, Rose cannot fathom succombing to Nick's desire to have her visit the outside with him. How can she say no to her best friend, though?
At the same time Rose is struggling with her feelings between the two young men, she is attempting to unravel a mystery at the home of her employer. Why is there a rumor that the place is haunted, and who is the Amish boy that the neighbor sees outside occasionally hanging the wash and doing the yard work? Mr. Browning is curiously close-mouthed about it all and refuses to let Rose near the sitting room or upstairs to clean. It's all quite strange.
Readers of the many books currently being set in the Amish community, many by acclaimed author Beverly Lewis, have to expect them to move slowly. While the People keep themselves quite busy with daily chores, Sunday Singings for the younger groups, canning bees and applesauce-making parties, it's still a slow-paced, more laid back existence. I had to remind myself of this and get in the proper mindset when I first began reading The Thorn since I've recently been into more action driven paranormals.
There are other events going on that contribute to the plotline and lend a bit of tension and inner struggles for the characters. Hen's separation from her husband has caused almost as much of a stir as when she left to marry him. Rose's parents fear her relationship with Nick might lead down the same path. Nick, himself, is viewed as a troublemaker. There's even the intrigue of Mr. Browning's secret.
There are a few issues that I had with The Thorn, only one of which is anything major. Firstly, the pacing was slower partly, I think, due to the amount of "telling" Lewis would sometimes do. At times, she was writing with so much detail that I was left wondering why I needed to know so many tiny things. The second minor quibble was with the handling of the Deitsch language. I'm slightly confused with the lack of consistency. For the most part, the term wonderful-gut is used, but there are a few times when the author uses wonderful-good which seems uncharacteristic. Also, rather than allowing the context of a phrase to speak for it, she has a character say something and then follow it immediately with the English translation. Don't dumb it down for the reader, please.
The worst part, for me, was the prejudice toward Nick. Here is a boy hand-chosen from the outside to become a part of the bishop's household. A child is always going to dream of the day his mother will come for him, so he can't be blamed for that. Nick dressed as an Amish person and did the same work. The only real rebellious things he did was grow his hair long and wear it in a ponytail, take a carriage horse for rides, and not jump lightly into the choice of joining the church. Yes, he had a moody disposition and could lose his temper, but the same could be said of the bishop's own biological son. Even knowing the strict lifestyle the People lead, it was still difficult for me to accept their assumptions and treatment of Nick. Only Rose Ann seemed to fully care for and accept him.
After the climactic, and tragic, ending of this first novel in The Rose Trilogy, I am curious to see where the characters' lives will take them next. The Judgment, book two, is due to be released April 2011.
NOTE: I received this ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest and objective review.