In the seemingly ordinary Amish home of Grace Byler, secrets abound. Why does her mother weep and wander deep in the night? And why does her father refuse to admit something is dreadfully wrong? Then, in one startling moment, the quiet life Grace has known is irrevocably altered, leaving her to question all she has been taught about love, family, and commitment. - Back cover.
The first in the "Seasons of Grace" series starts typically with a Prologue narrated in first-person by a young woman, Grace. Set in Bird-in-Hand and switching back and forth between the Amish community there and the point of view of an "Englisher," Heather, Lewis sets up a new story of family secrets and faith set in an Amish community. I look forward to reading more of the series.
This is the first installment in Beverly Lewis' new series Seasons of Grace, it releases
Seasons of Grace is another series about Amish life, taking place in Pennsylvania. Grace is an Amish girl in her early 20's, committed to marry a serious Amish man in the near future. When her mother disappears without any word of her whereabouts her world is rocked and she begins to question things she had always taken for granted.
There is a parallel story about an Englisher, Heather, also in her early 20's, visiting Amish country because of a cancer diagnosis that has put her life to a halt.
This book moved a bit slow and was light reading - as all Lewis' stories are - but just what I needed at the moment. I am drawn into Grace's story and am anxious to know when the next novel will be released. Hopefully I can get another advance copy? ;)
I can tell I'll be enjoying this series.
I had read the blurb, so I knew a little of what would develop in Beverly Lewis’s latest Amish novel, The Secret, due out in April. But having this foreknowledge or not, I’d have kept reading. The action in the book was pretty low key, but that’s
I couldn’t put it down. Despite the rather strict rules in this community, you recognize the complexity of the relationships and the depths of the people’s feelings. And yes, you also see the difficulty these rules put the folk in, when their teaching against being preoccupied with “self” collides with a genuine crisis where they need, most of all, to be comforted.
You become truly interested in the members of the Byler family, wondering how they will cope with the crisis that strikes them, centred on their mother’s secret, and how they’ll choose their futures. The Amish way of life is presented not so much as “old-fashioned” as it is simpler, more willing to share otherss joys and burdens than the one we readers come from. Reading about this community, you never feel condescending toward it. There might even be a little envy.
The book follows two plotlines: the main one, with Grace and her Amish family, and another featuring Heather, a young woman from the “outside” world, who faces a troubling medical diagnosis. At first these plots seem completely unrelated (apart from interesting parental parallels). But the stories finally begin to intersect near the end of the book, and you realize that they are going to intertwine more and more deeply.
But not in this book, not yet. Because I discovered, at the end, that this is only the first in a new series for Lewis: the “Seasons of Grace.” It’s a measure of her accomplishment that when I realized that the story will continue into other books, my first thought was, “Oh no, we have to wait to find out what happens now??”
I already can’t wait for the next book in this series. And having discovered Beverly Lewis and her novels, I want to read more. Although Lewis is a Christian novelist, the Christianity, in The Secret at least, was not preachy or in your face. The story of the people themselves was first and foremost, and never used as an excuse to sermonize or condemn.
Meanwhile, I have a “a secret” of my own: my Mennonite ancestors moved up to Canada a century or so ago – from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. The way this lovely region and its people were presented in the story made me feel the way Heather feels: that some day I must spend some time there, even if it’s just to walk and breathe.
I especially didn't like the endless rehashing of the main characters' thoughts. For instance, how many times can one bear to hear the father of the
I will not be reading any more books in this series.
The story is primarily told from Grace's point of view but does go back and forth between several of the other characters. Lewis doesn't over do it or make it confusing at all with the switches like some authors I've read have done. Its a simple story about an Amish woman named Lettie who leaves her family without really explaining why. Her family struggles with day to day life and conflicting emotions after her departure. Her departure though brings the family closer and especially strengthens Grace's character.
It was a pretty easy read. Some parts were a little slow but I definitely wanted to keep reading to find out what the secret really is. I like that Lewis didn't really give it away, she led up to it and it wasn't until a few chapters prior that I had a good hunch of what the secret was. So it was nice not to be able to predict it and be left wanting to read more in order to find out. I am under the impression that this is going to be a series so I cant wait to find out what happens next!!!
The dual stories of Grace, the young, dutiful Amish daughter who helps out the family both with her earnings in a health food shop as well as with her many chores at home, and Heather, the young educated graduate student with the frightening diagnosis, play up how differently these young women have been brought up.
It may be my bias as someone outside the Amish world, but I found Grace's reluctance to delve into family history or to ask difficult, emotional questions of her grandparents and parents to be too childlike to be believable in a woman who is about to be married - even in such a society.
Heather's actions were easier for me to relate to, and I only wish we had more of her story. I guess, as intended, I'll need to read the next books in the series to satisfy my curiosity!
Finally Beverly Lewis is getting back to writing a series more like her Abram's Daughters. Her last few books have, in my opinion, fallen into the unfortunate category of Christian Romance. Not there is anything wrong with that if that's your type of literature, however I find that genre seems to be plagued by one basic, predictable story plot. That is, boy and girl fall in love but find themselves separated by faith differences, then through tragedy or struggle the person in the "wrong" finally sees the light and "correctly" accepts Jesus. The two can now be together and they live happily ever after. This is exacty what Lewis has been doing for her last few novels. In The Secret, Lewis appears to once again try for a more universal appeal by focusing on a story involving characters who lives are definied by their faith (in this case the Amish), but the plot doesn't revolve around their faith. While she does reuse old material such as unplanned teenage pregnancy, adoption and broken engagements this book is by far her best in awhile.
This story is about two young women, Amish Grace Byler and graduate student Heather Nelson who have to face difficult decisions in their
I have to say the book is pretty depressing, but somehow it kept me reading with the suspense of finding out why Lettie ran off without telling her family.
First of all, yes, the book is slightly depressing, but I don't think she meant for this particular series to start off as happy. Yes, the mother leaves her husband and her children, and none of them understand why. They are the ones left to pick up the shreds of their dignity among their community. None of that is pleasant, but that's the story Ms. Lewis chose to write. If you really want to see Amish fiction that's depressing, look into the Sisters of Holmes County series by Wanda Brunstetter....hands down the worst Amish series I have read to date, and I've read several.
Secondly, the characters. I didn't think there were too many to follow; it seemed to be an adequate amount to keep it interesting, but not too many to keep up with. With that said, the only complaint that I have were a few characters that had names that were too similar. Martin (Puckett) and Marian (Reihl) look very similar when you're only reading their first name, as do Adam and Andy, two other secondary characters. I think a little bit more creativity could've been used when deciding on the names.
Lastly, yes, there are loose ends at the end of the book, but that's the author's preference. Not every author is going to have a complete resolution at the end of every one of their books. There are several storylines that are going on, and they can't all be covered in one book. Otherwise, there would be complaints that the story was too rushed. I guess you can't please everybody all of the time, much less part of the time. Personally, I didn't mind that the story ended the way it did. The actual "secret" of the book was revealed, but how it will play out will have to wait until books 2 & 3.
I am quite excited to read the rest of the series, mainly because the storyline is outside the norm for Amish fiction. Women just do not walk out on their families in the Amish world. I'm not expecting happy resolutions all around when it's all said and done, but I do think it will be some great reading....I'm really looking forward to it.
I listened to the audiobook version and the narrator's voice came out sounding too little-girlish for my liking. I felt it tainted some of the story and made certain sections sound like a spoiled
Early on in the book, much is made of Lettie having a secret. In fact, it was hinted at so often that I wished the author would either just let us readers in on the secret so we'd know (even if the other characters didn't) or just reveal it so we could move on.
We do eventually learn Lettie's secret (or at least part of it), but there are other plot points that aren't resolved.
Will Lettie return to her family on her own? Will her daughter Grace go searching for her--and if Grace does find her, will she convince Lettie to come home? What happened to the baby? (I have a suspicion on that, but only reading further in the series will know if my suspicion is correct.) Will Heather's father build a house on the Lancaster County land he purchased? Will Heather get treatment for her illness? Will she ever get to see the holistic healer?
Just too many unanswered plot points for me to give this more than an average rating.