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The location is an idyllic farm outside an Amish community in Tennessee. Julie, with her two children, joins Susan and her teenage daughter for a summer adventure. Susan needs to succeed in order to become self-sufficient after an ugly divorce, Julie needs to slow down long enough to remember what her priorities are and regain a sense of purpose and meaning. It becomes clear from the start that "living simple" is no simple matter. With the camera watching every move, Susan's drive for perfection feels a lot like what they left behind, while Julie suddenly finds herself needing to stand up for slowing down. With each new challenge, their season of "going Amish" gets more and more complicated, as each woman learns unexpected lessons about herself and her family.
Posted July 25, 2012
I read a terrific book over the weekend, Almost Amish, by Kathryn Cushman. This book was delightfully unique in that it has appeal both for people who like contemporary women’s fiction as well as traditional Amish fiction. The main story involves two modern families; however, they are placed in an “almost Amish” setting through the filming of a reality TV show. I could totally see myself living in the situation they found themselves in and loving it. Kathryn paints such vivid pictures that I could smell the shoo fly pie, feel the stifling heat, and see the wringer washer as well as feel my muscles being pushed and pulled in directions they weren’t accustomed.
I related most to Julie, as I have many of the same traits that she struggled with throughout the entire book. She had such an amazing husband, very much like my own, and it was fun for me to see how God crafted my real love story similarly to a fiction love story. The author presented two very different possible endings for Julie’s story throughout the novel and I absolutely loved the conclusion that was finally achieved. It was handcrafted specifically for this character.
I was captivated with this novel from beginning to end. There were surprises throughout that I definitely didn’t see coming. Those were just icing on the cake, in my opinion. Others might recognize these quicker than I did, but it was a pleasant surprise for me that the antagonist, wasn’t the only aspect that kept this book extremely entertaining.
I fell in love with all the characters, feeling as though I was living the experience along with Julie, Susan and their children. The primary and secondary characters were described so clearly that I truly felt transplanted into that small town in Tennessee right alongside them.
Kathryn has a natural ability of weaving elements of Biblical truths throughout the entire book. It was done in a very subtle, gentle way - almost like painting a picture of the way God intended for us to live our lives. There were two main truths that I took away from this book and both enriched my life and caused me to think deeper about myself, my relationship with/to God as well as my relationship with others in my family and community. The first was that I need to somehow take time to balance my priorities and activities so that my family receives the best of me, not the leftovers. There are so many things in society that scream for attention, but my ultimate, primary responsibility here on Earth is to take care of my family first, second only to my relationship with God. The second but just as important truth that I took away from Almost Amish was that I have different gifts than other people. No one gift is better than the rest and all gifts are needed for God’s work to be effectively carried out. When I stop comparing myself to others and their gifts and instead focus on using my gifts for God in the best way possible, then I will have true peace. The happiness I feel will be genuine, not laced with guilt over trying to fulfill someone else’s purpose other than my own.
I would recommend to anyone who enjoys great women’s fiction to go out and pick up a copy of Almost Amish. It is a great choice, in my opinion.
3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 13, 2012
I loved reading this book...we live in such a fast pace rat race. We seem to forget what is important, and this book helps bring things into reality.
We begin with Julie Charlton who doesn't seem to know the name "NO". She is always running from one thing to another, and sometimes has to be two places at once. When her husband Thomas's sister begs her to help her...of course Julie does what she always does "Yes"!
Susan Reynolds is in a fight to support herself and her daughter Angie, and the producers offer her an opportunity to advance, she has to do it! They want to do a reality show featuring the "Lisa Lee" show, and have Susan and Julie and their children going to Tennessee to live Amish style lives.
When they arrived they have all of 60 seconds to get their belongings out of the Limo...as quick as they can Julia, her daughter Whitney, and son Brian grab their stuff. They begin their long journey down the drive, and finally arrive at a picturesque house....more on the outside than inside. They are met by Susan and her daughter Angie. Thus begins their new adventure!
Julie wants desperately to find her God Gifts...even though she has always had them. You will watch them struggle and and in some ways envy them! They need to learn how to use a wood stove, and regulate it to cook with. Learn to wash clothes with a ringer washer...a real step back in time.
I loved the ways the kids adjusted from their hectic lives back in CA to enjoy the simpler things. Checker tournaments!
Do not miss this really heartwarming read. At times you won't like Susan, but travel along with them for a better look!
I received this book from Bethany House Publishers, and was not required to give a positive review.
2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 16, 2014
Posted May 11, 2014
Posted April 28, 2014
This was a great book by Kathleen Cushman!!
It really makes you stop and think about your priorities and try to get them in order. It wasn't just a book to tickle your
conscience though, it was a fun and enjoyable story. Give it a try!!! Carolyn :o)
Posted August 10, 2013
If you've ever wanted to get away from it all.....Almost Amish is a story for you.
What would you do if you could step outside your modern life for awhile? Julie and Susan are inlaws who agree to live an 'almost' Amish lifestyle with their children. In exchange for being paid for the job, they are filmed for a television series. Their reactions are honest and funny and they learn many things about themselves and their families while learning life lessons along the way.
This is a sweet story and has some spirituality woven throughout. In some parts there is a character that could be considered 'preachy' but it is pointed out in the book that she kind of is and they just let her be that way. We all know someone like that. She is still likeable and does not overdo it.
It is part comedy, part love story and always entertaining. The reaction of the teens to not having modern conveniences, whether it be hairdryers or cell phones is interesting to observe and they end up learning about other cultures and how people are treated who act different from what is considered the 'norm'. All in all, a good story.
Posted October 22, 2012
Posted September 20, 2012
Posted September 17, 2012
I was not sure about this book until I got into it. I'm not a huge fan of Amish fiction; however, I really have enjoyed books by Kathryn Cushman and thought I'd give it a try. This was a very good read and I'm glad I was able to pick it up!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 15, 2012
Posted September 15, 2012
Good book, well written. However, I wish the last 75 pages of the book were as detailed as the rest of the book. It seems like it got to a point and then just ran out of steam by skimming over details. Overall it was a good read.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 14, 2012
Posted September 14, 2012
Posted September 9, 2012
Susan Reynolds, divorced and mother of 17 year old Angie wants to sign on to do a three month 'experiment' living the 'simple life'. She asks her sister-in-law Julie Charlton to leave her husband in California and take 16 year old Whitney and 13 year old Brian to the midwest with her. The sisters-in-law get along well but were raised in two completely different worlds, doing this for Susan will mean five people living in one farm house without modern conveniences.
Julie is tired of her life, she doesn't cook well, doesn't keep her house clean enough, and is constantly on the run for her husband, kids and different committees. She really has no time for herself or to enjoy her family. Susan on the other hand is an uptight perfectionist, she can cook, her house is spotless and she wants to do this so she can write a book to have enough money to give her daughter everything, regardless of whether her Angie wants the same things or not. Basically Susan thinks her life, and Angie's, depends on the success of this venture.
Kendra, the producer for the Lisa Lee show will stop at nothing it seems to make the series a success. One example, the first task to be filmed is Julie, the non-cook, making a shoo fly pie. Since nothing ever turns out for Julie, Susan coaches her for two days before the filming, just the preparation of the pie though since they don't have a stove in the house yet. They get the stove on the day of filming but they didn't expect it to be a wood burning stove!
Susan is the domineering person in the book and is constantly pushing everyone to work, work, work, because of course everything has to look and be perfect. Julie is the one that tries to live the simple life and is soon enjoying the fun times spent with the kids. Oh, and thanks to Susan, the kids have to attend school even though it's summer. She gets very upset because she doesn't think the schooling they get in the one room schoolhouse, with just their three kids, is good enough.
Kendra doesn't help things since she is very demanding, lets them know plans at the last minute and comes across as an unfeeling rude person, kind of like Susan. It doesn't help that Susan didn't share with Julie how much she's depending on this series being a success, so Julie can't figure out why she's even more pushy than normal.
After one event involving Angie, Susan's honest, well behaved, daughter, they are at odds and it could cause the cancellation of Susan's contract and also, unbeknownst to Susan, Kendra has offered Julie a continuing series instead of Susan.
This is the first book of Kathryn's that I've read and I will be reading some more of them. I thought it was kind of a slow start, mainly because I requested the book by looking at the cover and the title, lol, yes, I'm one of those, so I didn't realize what the story was about. If I see something that looks like an Amish story, I want it! I really did enjoy the story once I got into it, and it can teach us a lot about slowing down, quit demanding so much of ourselves. We also need to remember that a simple life doesn't mean less busy, but it isn't as hectic.
Thank you to Bethany House for providing this book for 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 August 31, 2012
Have you heard the old saying, "I meet myself coming and going"? Well this is the life of Julie Charlton dedicated and exhausted wife and mother. She realizes her family needs to slow down but just can't seem to figure out how.
Until...! Her sister-in-law Susan is offered a Reality T.V. series called Almost Amish and she wants Julie and her two kids to be part of the reality show with her and her daughter. This seems like the answer to all Julie's problems and for opportunity for her family to slow down and enjoy the simple life of the Amish.
Boy was she ever wrong! From the minute they arrived Susan was so hyped up about making everything perfect in their new reality show home away from home. They all ended up spending most their days cleaning and working on one project after another. Susan had even made up a chore chart.
Things were not as Julie and the kids had hoped. The producer of the the reality show was determined to make things as difficult for them as possible. Making things even worse the woman had broken just about every promise she had made to them and the Amish community.
What had happened to slowing down and enjoying the simple life of the Amish. Julie and all three of the kids were determined to slow things down. They had a game plan! Which does not set well with her workaholic sister-in-law and the crazy reality show producer.
The author wrote a great story about how life is not simple even in an Amish Community. We have to work and pray for what we have. God will provide. I loved Julie and totally sympathized with her. Susan seemed to be a little to wrapped up in herself and so did the producer. the author also emphasizes how God has a plan for everyone and that it does not always work out the way we had envisioned it.
I recommend this book.
I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers for review. I was in no way compensated for this review. It is my own opinion.
Posted August 27, 2012
I tried and tried to get into this book, but was bored to tears. I got up to chapter 6 and still couldn't get into it, so I put it on the shelf and called this done
Such possabilities could have been had with this book
Posted August 24, 2012
This is my first time reading a book written by Kathryn Cushman. Her premise was very different from anything I've ever read. The storyline follows an extended family unit as they participate in a television reality show.
The most striking thing for me about this book was that it almost demands introspection by the reader. The 2 main characters are sisters-in-law and couldn't be more different. One is a Type-A control freak and the other is a Type-B free spirit that struggles with boundaries. I spent the whole book examining my reactions to certain situations. I saw myself in both extreme personalities, particularly Susan with her need for perfection and tendency to judge others.
Many of us desire simplicity, but just because life is simpler doesn't mean it's easier. These women and their children have to learn a totally new lifestyle, and I really enjoyed how their teenage kids embraced the process without too much protest. Seeing Julie grow and become more confident was wonderful to see and I was rooting for her every time she stood up for her loved ones.
I thought it was great how the end of the book follows up with how the ladies have changed and how they applied those changes to their lives after the show ended.
Not many fiction books cause intense self examination, so I adored it for that reason. While it was hard initially for me to get drawn into the story line...once I did, I couldn't put it down.
Posted August 22, 2012
If you are someone who enjoys reading Amish novels, as I do, you may be somewhat disappointed in this book. I teetered between giving it 2 or 3 stars, because the writing style is good. I know an author puts a lot of work into getting a book written and then to get it published, so I'd never want to discredit someone's efforts. However, the title of this book is very misleading. It was disappointing for me to read a story about people mimicing the Amish lifestyle, when they never once interacted with actual Amish people. The only encounter is a brief one when they pass an Amish couple in a Walmart store. The most this family knew about the Amish was what a few of them read in some Amish novels. I feel like the Amish deserve more respect than to be depicted as a primitive-living, backward sort of people. In addition, to think that a family would submit themselves to the "abuse" of a television producer for the sole purpose of hoping to further a career and gain financial stability was kind of sad to me. Yes, there were some lovely lessons this family walked away having learned, which is basically the only redeeming quality I felt came out of this story. Let's face it, reality shows are a bit ridiculous in a lot of instances, but this was what could have been a good idea that just never really developed for me. If there had been some interaction for this family with Amish people, and if the story had given the Amish more credit for being the good, hard-working, spiritual and "plain people" they are, this book might have had more substance. Instead, it was about people trying to somewhat mimic a lifestyle they knew nothing about. Like I said, if you're a fan of Amish novels, you can probably just pass this one up.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 20, 2012
This story is a great read and you will in joy it til the end.The
main peopele who are in the story are realted to each other,Susan and
Julia,Whitney,Brian,Angie they are thrown toghter in a house out in the
country of Tenn The story strt off like this Susan is good cook has
someone come in and help clean and then she has the kid who do sports
and busy all the time does the family relax not really. Then you got
Julie who has divorced her hubby and they have tennagae girl.So Susan
come up with idea form work they want to do a show on family member get
to live like the amish.What a great idea or is it.Well the show is to
take place in the back woods with no car no elec or the stuff you have
in the every day life. The kids and mom are serpeate cars and then drop
at dead end road and have to carry there luggae up the hill over 1mile
to the house and when they find out what in store ,There lugage is taken
way and then they are givn thing so they can wear and work like the
amish the girls have to wear long dress and boot and the Brian has to
wear pants and then the shrirt he not wrorry aobut it. They are assign
jobs that have to mean be up feed and then clean You see Julia can not
cook so she assign tomake a pie and then it funny and doe not trun out
how it suppose to,So Suaan the cook take the choir of the cooking over
and then Juila clean up every thing.She want the hsoue to loook good for
the camera and all around them there is hidden camera in the hsoue and
then they are being filemed for the show the kid go to school all summer
and they like the idea and then the kdi meet othre amish and then they
are going through the summer and hen they are getting more relaxed and
then understand the living and then what happens.They have fun as a
family and then they have to learn the old way of life. Susan has
problem with her daughter and then it is taped so the whole show will be
seen on tv and then she all so like the handy man who is suppose to albe
to help around the house with the horse and then help her with her
daughter and the problme they face You will love the book and then the
cover of the book and then in joy how the family form the form la can
live and in joy hte life of the amish The kids and mom are serpeate
cars and then drop at dead end road and have to carry there luggae up
the hill over 1mile to the house and when they find out what in store
,There lugage is taken way and then they are givn thing so they can wear
and work like the amish the girls have to wear long dress and boot and
the Brian has to wear pants and then the shrirt he not wrorry aobut it.
They are assign jobs that have to mean be up feed and then clean You
see Julia can not cook so she assign tomake a pie and then it funny and
doe not trun out how it suppose to,So Suaan the cook take the choir of
the cooking over and then Juila clean up every thing.She want the hsoue
to loook good for the camera and all around them there is hidden camera
in the hsoue and then they are being filemed for the show the kid go to
school all summer and they like the idea and then the kdi meet othre
amish and then they are going through the summer and hen they are
getting more relaxed and then understand the living and then what
Posted August 19, 2012
Susan is a Martha Stewart in-training. She is classic Type A personality
and a helicopter parent. Her husband recently left her and she is trying
to figure out her life. She is given a chance to be on a reality TV
series in which a family tries to live like the Amish. This would bode
well for her career, so she agrees to do it. She needs another family,
so she asks her brother's wife Julie to join her with their two kids.
Julie is a stay-at-home mom who is completely dissatisfied with her
life. She is always on the go, she never sees her kids, and she always
feels like a failure. Somehow, a summer of simple living sounds like a
great idea to her. The two families aren't going to actually live as
Amish. They will have electricity and indoor plumbing. They will have to
learn how to wash their clothes by hand, cook on a wood stove, plant a
garden, care for farm animals, etc. Every week there is a new challenge
they must face, that they hope will draw in viewers. Susan is
determined to be perfect. She is so focused on what the American
audience is going to see, that she continues to neglect her daughter.
Julie is also afraid of looking like a fool in front of the TV audience,
but she finds herself quickly getting more in tune with herself and her
own kids. She realizes that simple living isn't as easy as you would
think, but it is definitely more purposeful. The attitude of the
producer, Kendra, and her production crew make you cringe. For example,
when they are visiting the nearby town and later Walmart, they are
explicitly told to *NOT* film the Amish people and their businesses.
They go ahead and do it anyway, which is so disrespectful. Some of their
tasks and other things they film are also highly disrespectful. Isn't
that the name of the game in reality TV anymore? Julie notices, though,
and develops a strength inside her to stand up for what is right. This
book is an excellent reminder to stop and smell the roses from time to
time. Everything you do in life should have some kind of a purpose.
Remember to listen to your kids and to each other. You are probably
missing something very important. Life is not about jumping on Facebook
every five minutes to update your status, nor texting your friends
nonstop about trivial matters. It is about embracing what you have and
giving of yourself to others. Twists in the plot also remind you to not
take people at face value. Sometimes there is more going on that what
you see on the surface. First impressions are not always the correct
ones. I hope that the readers of this book are able to learn this lesson
as well as, if not better than, the characters in this book. I received
a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House, in exchange for my
honest review. [This review also appears on Andi's Book Reviews and