Beverly Lewis, |
The Courtship of Nellie Fisher #1: The Parting
(Bethany House, 2007)
One of the veteran authors of Christian fiction has begun yet another intriguing series.
In 1966, Nellie Fisher is 17 years old, a young Amish woman living with her family in Honey Brook, Chester County, Pa. She's suddenly become the youngest daughter in the family, after her 16-year-old sister Suzy accidentally drowns while on an outing with friends. Nellie keeps busy with her own baking business, Nellie's Simple Sweets, but she's not immune to the whispers and rumors circulating among her people. Had Suzy been spending too much time with Englischers during her Rumspringe? Did her errant path cause her ultimate demise?
Wanting to know, but not really wanting to know, Nellie buries Suzy's diary without opening it. But her curiosity grows. Should she dig up the diary and get the story, straight from Suzy, about who and what she was involved with? While contemplating her options and what the truth might be, Nellie is also occupied with thoughts of Caleb Yoder, the young Amish man who seems to like her as much as she likes him. It doesn't take too long before they travel home from weekly Singings together in Caleb's buggy.
At the same time, the local Amish community is in turmoil. Some of the members are being enticed by a roving tractor salesman and the convenience of having electricity in their homes. Others are searching for more answers in the Scriptures, especially those chapters they are technically forbidden to read. Nellie's father, Reuben, finds himself in the midst of the controversy. He'd like his entire family to join him in his newfound discovery. Will Nellie stay with the Old Way, or will she follow her parents and siblings? Will her decision make a difference in her new relationship with Caleb?
Seasoned readers should know the drill by now: author Lewis drops hints but doesn't solve all of the challenges and mini-mysteries in the opening episode of a series. And the title of this volume is vague enough to refer to several aspects of the plot. Is "the parting" the loss of Suzy to the Fisher family? Is it something that will invariably happen to Nellie and Caleb? Or, in a general way, does it apply to the local Amish community? Is it even possible that all three of those "partings" will occur? And since the series name is based on the main character's "courtship," is the author suggesting that the romantic road for Nellie and Caleb will be a rocky one?
Fans will gobble up this latest saga and will eagerly await the next two books in the series. As always, Lewis supplies light but thoughtful reading, serving to show that life, even in a simpler society, can become quite complex.
Corinne H. Smith
17 November 2007