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Posted January 5, 2013
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I always enjoy Judith Miller’s books and this one was exceptional. She does an amazing job of not only writing a wonderful story but also giving such insight in to the beliefs and daily lives of the Amana Colonies during the late 1800’s. I had not heard of this fascinating religious group until a few years ago. They were a communal group that lived by very strict guidelines and shared all their resources and possessions.
Dovie Cates is a young woman who has recently lost her mother. She knows her mother grew up in the colonies but is confused that she never spoke of her life there. Wanting to feel closer to her mother and learn more about her past, she persuades her father to let her go live her mother’s cousin, Louise, who still lives in the colony. Her cousin, Karlina, Louise’s daughter is excited to have Dovie come because she wants to learn more about the world outside. While thrilled to be there, Dovie does find some of the rules and guidelines in the colony difficult to follow. She discovers herself in situations where she feels she must choose to follow God or the rules the colony implements for the protection of the members.
Much to Dovie’s disappointment her cousin Louise is very secretive about her mother’s past. No amount of questioning loosens Louise’s lips, so Dovie takes matters into her own hands, snooping and doing a little detective work, even in places she shouldn’t be looking. From the bits and pieces of information she gathers Dovie writes her own story of her mother’s past, but is all she imagines true? She finds herself struggling with staying, fitting in, and breaking her heart and the heart of one she has grown to love.
This was an excellent book! I had trouble finding a stopping place when I was reading. The author’s detailed description of life in an Amana colony enabled me to put myself in that time and place! I was also reminded of the valuable lesson of not assuming all I see or hear is true. There may very well me important facts missing that can totally change what appears to be the truth. Also, the wisdom in not making emotional and impulsive decisions based on circumstances which could result in causing me or others harm. I highly recommend this book to everyone! You won’t be disappointed!!
I received this book free from Bethany House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255
Posted January 3, 2013
Interesting story takes place in Amana, IA - educational for me
Dovie Cates's mother has passed away without sharing much of her life story. When Dovie's father gets transferred to Texas she decides that this would be a good time to go to visit her mother's family in the Amana Colony East in Iowa. Just maybe she'll find out why her mother would never share anything about her younger life, why her grandparents moved from there and never looked back. Her mother used to write to Cousin Louise Richter but stopped suddenly, Dovie really wants to learn more about her mother's family and why she never talked about her past.
About the same time Dovie arrives in Amana East to spend time at Cousin Louise's home, the Richter family is getting a new shepherd to help with the sheep. Karlina, Dovie's cousin who is about the same age as her, is upset because she thinks she'll no longer be allowed to care for the sheep, after all that isn't a woman's job. Anton has been sent to East because he can't control his temper, so the Grossebruderrat sent him away from his home to learn some control.
Dovie and Karlina become so close they are like sisters. Karlina helps Dovie learn the ways of the church as she's helping Anton learn to care for the sheep. As time moves on Dovie finds her self being disappointed when Cousin Louise refuses to answer her questions about her mother. Even when Cousin Louise lets her read some letters she saved, she doesn't learn anything. One day while dusting Dovie finds some different letters from her mother that Cousin Louise didn't share with her, she takes a chance and starts reading them. She doesn't get through all, but does get some clues so now she tries to discover the rest of the story.
When Dovie tries to help a family that is suffering from the influenza she convinces Karlina to help by taking medicine and going daily to care for them. The problem is, they do not belong to the church and live off of their property, it is against the rules for them, especially women, to leave the property and go into a non-member's home alone. When Karlina becomes sick with the flu, Dovie tells Cousin Louise the truth about what they'd been doing and now the whole family has to go before the Grossebruderat to find out what the punishment will be.
Will Dovie have to leave the community and never find out about her mother's past, will Karlina have to give up caring for the sheep and how bad will the punishment be for Dovie's caring for an outside family and dragging Karlina into the situation with her.
Very interesting book, I learned a lot. I am from the midwest and always thought, don't ask me where I got the idea, the Amana Colonies were Amish. But the more I read, they seemed more like Quakers than Amish so I looked it up and they were part of a religious movement called Pietism. Their belief, one shared by many other Pietists, was that God, through the Holy Spirit, may inspire individuals to speak. This gift of inspiration, or prophecy, was the basis for a religious group that began meeting in 1714 and became known as the Community of True Inspiration.
So, not only did Judith keep me interested by the story, I was also intrigued with their faith, I didn't do the research until I finished the book so I could see if I could figure it out. Thank you Judith for giving my a learning experience as I read this book, wonderful job.
Thank you to Bethany House for providing me this book to review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255
Posted November 18, 2012
I did not like this book. I have enjoyed ready every other novel written by Judith Miller, but I could not get into this story. I have never heard of the Amana Colonies and usually enjoy reading about other cultures. I would recommend her other novels. I received this book for free from Bethany House Publishing.
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Posted November 15, 2012
The author gives us an amazing look at the late 1800's Amana Colony. I find it so very interesting, and it almost makes me want to live there. The whole community is built on the Love of God!
Karlina Richter lives at the Community, and has a love of Sheep...her Dad is the Shepherd in the East Village. When a young man, Anton, is sent to help her ill father, she figures he is spending his year to get married. Sparks do fly, but is he already in a relationship?
Also Dovie Cates mother has recently passed away and her father is moving her to Texas. She writes her mother's cousin, Louise, and asks to come for a visit to the Community. She wants to know why her Mother seemed sad, for so much of her life.
Will Dovie get her answers? When she does get some information, will it break her heart? Also will Karlina be able to give up her feelings for Anton.
Enjoy this interesting book, and get lost in the Colony life. Once you get started you won't be able to put it down...I didn't!
I received this book through the Bethany House reviewer program, and was not required to give a positive review.
Posted September 18, 2012
1892, Over-the-Rhine, Cincinnati, Ohio
Dovie Cates informs her father that she did not wish to move to Texas with him. She wishes to visit her mother's cousin in East Amana. Since the recent death of her mother she has become obsessed with wanting to learn more about her mother's past life in East Amana. Her father gives her permission to visit Cousin Louise, in the Amana Colonies but just until he can find them a house in Texas. So she sends a letter requesting a visit to her Cousin Louise. When Dovie arrives in East Amana she is not sure if she is welcome. Mainly because she did not wait for a return answer from Cousin Louise so her arrival was a surprise.
When she tries to work information about her mother from Cousin Louise she is given just basic information she already knew. So Dovie assumed Cousin Louise must be hiding something about her mother's past.
Dovie was determined to find out what that something was.
While she is visiting in East Amana she helps in one of several group kitchens in East Amana. The one she is working in is in Cousin Louise's home. Cousin Louise is the kitchen boss of this group kitchen. She thinks this will give her a better chance of talking to Cousin Louise about her mother.
Cousin Louise has a daughter, Karlina that is about the same age as Dovie and they have become friends. Karlina helps her father with the community sheep. It is uncommon for a girl to work with the sheep. Since her father's failing health the Elders have assigned a young man, Anton to help with the sheep. He has never worked with sheep before and Karlina will help her father to train the young man. Anton seems to have no interest or patience with the sheep.
Dovie meets a local young man, Berndt that delivers bakery goods to the community kitchens. He has become very smitten with Dovie and she him. He invites her to go ice skating with him at a near by pond. They end up going ice skating several times with Karlina and Anton. But Dovie seems to be more focused on finding information about her mother's life in East Amana and Karlina is more interested in caring for the sheep.
Just what is it that Dovie expects to find out about her mother? Just what is her relationship with Berndt?
Will Karlina trust Anton to care for her precious sheep? Does Anton have a past to hide? Will he learn to care for the sheep with love and patience?
I saw Dovie as a manipulitive young woman. She broke rules, and went beyond sensitivities to find out about her mother.
The author managed to keep me guessing about Dovie and her mother's past. I can usually figure out the mystery of a story but this one I was surprised with what Dovie uncovers. I was also surprised as to what Karlina uncovered about Anton. This made for a very interesting read.
I throughly enjoyed all the scriptures through the book. Some that inspired me to claimin my daily life.
I highly recommend this book.
I received a copy of this book for review from the author. I was in no way compensated for this review.
It is my own opinion.