The Sound of Sleigh Bells

( 43 )


Beth Hertzler works alongside her beloved Aunt Lizzy in their dry goods store, and serving as contact of sorts between Amish craftsmen and Englischers who want to sell the Plain people’s wares. But remorse and loneliness still echo in her heart everyday as she still wears the dark garb, indicating mourning of her fiancé. When she discovers a large, intricately carved scene of Amish children playing in the snow, something deep inside Beth’s soul responds and she wants to help the unknown artist find homes for his ...

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The Sound of Sleigh Bells

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Beth Hertzler works alongside her beloved Aunt Lizzy in their dry goods store, and serving as contact of sorts between Amish craftsmen and Englischers who want to sell the Plain people’s wares. But remorse and loneliness still echo in her heart everyday as she still wears the dark garb, indicating mourning of her fiancé. When she discovers a large, intricately carved scene of Amish children playing in the snow, something deep inside Beth’s soul responds and she wants to help the unknown artist find homes for his work–including Lizzy’s dry goods store. But she doesn’t know if her bishop will approve of the gorgeous carving or deem it idolatry.

Lizzy sees the changes in her niece when Beth shows her the woodworking, and after Lizzy hunts down Jonah, the artist, she is all the more determined that Beth meets this man with the hands that create healing art. But it’s not that simple–will Lizzy’s elaborate plan to reintroduce her niece to love work? Will Jonah be able to offer Beth the sleigh ride she’s always dreamed of and a second chance at real love–or just more heartbreak?

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  • Cindy Woodsmall
    Cindy Woodsmall  

Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Since Beth Hertzler's fiancé died, her soul has been weighed down by grief. She finds some solace in her daily work at her Aunt Lizzy's dry goods store, she wonders if she will die a lonely Amish spinster. The discovery of a single wooden sculpture comes as a cleansing revelation; almost instantly, Beth decides to find the unknown artist and offer him at least one country store venue. She worries, though, that the bishop will condemn this innocent carving as idolatry. As her niece frets, Aunt Lizzy takes hold of a situation that could blossom into happier days for all concerned.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307446534
  • Publisher: Crown Religion/Business/Forum
  • Publication date: 10/6/2009
  • Pages: 208
  • Sales rank: 983,034
  • Product dimensions: 5.48 (w) x 8.28 (h) x 0.79 (d)

Meet the Author

Cindy Woodsmall

Cindy Woodsmall is the author of When the Heart Cries, When the Morning Comes, and The New York Times best-seller When the Soul Mends. Her ability to authentically capture the heart of her characters comes from her real-life connections with Amish Mennonite and Old Order Amish families. A mother of three sons and one daughter-in-law, Cindy lives in Georgia with her husband of thirty-one years.

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Read an Excerpt

The aroma of fresh-baked bread, shepherd's pie, and steamed vegetables filled Lizzy's house, mingling with the sweet smell of baked desserts. In the hearth a bank of embers kept a small fire burning, removing the nip that clung to the early-April air.
The noise of conversations rose and fell around Lizzy's kitchen table as her brother and his large family talked easily throughout the meal. His grown and almost-grown children filled the sides of her fourteen-foot table, and his grandchildren either sat in their mothers' laps or in highchairs.
Nearly four decades ago her oldest brother had put effort into finding an Amish bride.When Stephen found the right girl, he married her. He'd handled life well, and the fruit of it fed her soul. Lizzy had focused on her business and never married. She didn't regret her choices, not for herself, but she'd crawl on her hands and knees the rest of her days to keep her niece from the same fate.
Beth was like a daughter to Lizzy. Not long after the family's dry goods store passed to Lizzy, Beth graduated fromthe eighth grade and started working beside her. Soon she moved in with Lizzy, and they shared the one-bedroom apartment above the shop. When Lizzy had this house built a few years ago, her niece had stayed above Hertzlers' Dry Goods. Lizzy studied the young beauty as she answered her family's endless questions about her decisions in the middleman role between the Amish who made goods and the various Englischer stores who wanted those goods. That was her Beth. Answer what was asked. Do what was right. Always be polite. Offer to help before it was needed. And never let anyone see the grief that hadn't yet let go of her.
Beth had banned even Lizzy from looking into the heartache that held her hostage.
The one-year anniversary of Henry's death had come and gone without any sign from Beth that she might lay aside her mourning, so Lizzy had taken action. She'd prepared this huge meal and planned a social for the afternoon. Maybe all Beth needed was a loving, gentle nudge. If not, Lizzy had a backup plan—one Beth would not appreciate.
Over the din of conversations, the sounds of horses and buggies arriving and the voices of young people drifted through the kitchen window, causing Beth to look at her. Lizzy placed her forearms on the table. "I've invited the young singles of the community for an evening of outdoor games, desserts, and a bonfire when the sun goes down."
Two of Beth's single younger sisters, Fannie and Susie, glowed at the idea. With grace and gentleness, Beth turned to her Mamm and asked if she would need help planting this year's garden. It didn't seem to bother Beth that five of her sisters had married before her, and three of them were younger than she was. All but the most recently wed had children. Lizzy knew what awaited Beth if she didn't find someone—awkward and never-ending loneliness. Maybe she didn't recognize that. It wasn't until Henry came into Beth's life that she even seemed to notice that single men existed. Within a year of meeting, they were making plans to marry.
Now, in an Amish community of dresses in rich, solid hues, Beth wore black.
Through a window Lizzy saw the youngmen bring their rigs to a halt. The drivers as well as the passengers got out of the carriages. The girls soon huddled in groups, talking feverishly, while the guys went into the barn, pulled two wagons with plenty of hay into the field, and tied their horses to them. It was far easier to leave the animals harnessed and grazing on hay than to have to hitch a horse to its buggy in the dark. The young people knew the routine. They would remain outside playing volleyball, horseshoes, or whatever else suited them until after the sun went down. Then they'd come inside for desserts and hot chocolate or coffee before riding in wagons to the field where they'd start a bonfire.
Fannie and Susie rose and began clearing the table. Beth went to the dessert counter and picked out a pie. She set it on the table beside her Daed, cut a slice, and placed it on his plate. Then she slid a piece onto her Mamm's plate before passing the pie to her brother Emmanuel. She took her seat next to her mother, still chatting about the upcoming spring planting. Lizzy hoped her brother saw what she did—a daughter who continued to shun all possibility of finding new love. Beth clung to the past as if she might wake one day to find her burning desires had changed it.
Fannie began gathering glasses that still held trace amounts of lemonade. "You've got to join us this time, Bethie. It's been too long."
Flatware stopped clinking against the plates as all eyes turned to Beth.
Susie tugged on her sleeve. "Please. Everyone misses you."
Beth poked at the meal she'd barely touched as if she might scoop a forkful of the cold food and eat it. "Not this time. Denki."
"See, Beth," Lizzy said. "Every person here knows you should be out socializing again. Everyone except you."
Beth's face grew taut, and she stood and removed the small stack of plates from Fannie's hands. "Go on. I'll do these."
Fannie glanced to her Daed. He nodded. "Why don't you all finish up and go on out? Emmanuel and Ira, do you mind helping set up the volleyball nets?" Emmanuel wiped his mouth on a cloth napkin. "We can do that."
Chairs screeched against the wood floor as most of the brood stood. Fannie and Susie bolted for the door. Two more of Beth's sisters and two sisters-in-law went to the sink, taking turns rinsing the hands and faces of their little ones before they all went outside. Lizzy longed to see Beth in colored dresses, wearing a smile that radiated from her soul. Instead Beth pasted on smiles, fooling most of those around her into thinking her heart continued to mend. But her quieter, more stoic behavior said things no one else seemed to hear. Lizzy heard, and she'd shared her concerns with Beth's Daed, Stephen. Beth took a stack of dishes to the sink and flicked on the water.
"You can leave that for now," Stephen said.
She turned off the water and remained with her back to them. Beth's Mamm glanced at Lizzy as she ran her finger down a tall glass of lemonade. "Beth, honey—"
Beth turned. "I'm fine, Mamm."
Stephen got up and piled more plates together. "Of course you are. And I'll throw my favorite pie at anyone who says otherwise." He stuck his finger into his half-eaten piece of chocolate pie, placed it in his mouth, and winked at Beth.
She smiled, an expression that probably looked real to her Daed but reminded Lizzy of fine silk flowers—only beautiful to those who aren't gardeners.
"Beth, sweetheart," Stephen said, "you know how me and your Mamm feel. We love you. It's no secret that you're different from our other girls. You've always had more of a head for business than a heart to find a beau, but now…well, we just want to make sure you're doing okay. Since you don't live with us, that's a bit hard to know sometimes." He set the dirty dishes beside the already full sink before he rinsed his hands and dried them. "Officially, your period of mourning was over nearly six months ago, but you haven't joined the young people for a single event. You've not left the store for your usual buying trips. You eat half of what you should. You continue to wear black. And those are things a stranger would notice."
"I…I could plan a buying-and-selling trip. It'll take me most of the summer to get completely organized for it, but I can be ready by August. I know I should have sooner, but…"
Lizzy hoped Stephen didn't fall for the diversion tactic Beth had just thrown his way, but since Beth was listening to him without getting defensive, Lizzy wouldn't interfere.
"Good. If that's where you feel like beginning, I'm glad to hear it. I know the community will be too, because without you they can't sell near as many of their goods." He walked to the table, took a seat, and motioned for Beth.
She moved to the chair beside him.
"But other people's financial needs are not what this is about. Tell me something good and hopeful about you—something I'll know in my gut is true—and I'll end this conversation right now."
The four of them remained silent as shouts and roars of laughter echoed from outside. If anyone could touch Beth's heart and cause her to change, her Daed could. But the silence continued, and Beth's inability to think of anything hopeful to say made Lizzy sick with worry.
The grandfather clock chimed the half hour, startling Lizzy, but no one spoke. Long shadows filled the room, and she lit a kerosene lamp and set it in the middle of the table. Whatever happened the night Henry died consumed Beth. When Lizzy arrived on the scene, her niece didn't even acknowledge her. The only words Beth spoke were the ones she whispered for days—God,
forgive me. Lizzy had tried to talk to her about it, but Beth never broke her polite silence on the topic. Beth's Daed cleared his throat. "I'll wait all night for an answer if I need to, Beth."
Her eyes filled with tears, but it was another five minutes before she uttered a word. "I don't trust my feelings about…certain things anymore, Daed."
"Then can you trust mine?" her Daed asked.
"Always, but I don't want to be one of the single girls looking for a husband. Not ever again. Is that such a horrible thing?"
"It's not what we'd figured on, but we can adjust."
Lizzy repositioned her glass of lemonade. During church the singles sat separately from the married couples. Lizzy's memory of growing too old for the singles and removing herself from them still stung. From that day on she'd carried the title of alt Maedel—old maid. She'd been older than Beth's twenty-six years, and her prospects of finding someone had faded into nothingness. If Beth thought navigating life after Henry was difficult, Lizzy dreaded the pain that lay ahead for Beth when she openly admitted to the Amish world that she didn't fit—not with the single folk and not with the married ones. Stephen had yet to mention anything about the color of mourning Beth still wore. If she would wear something besides black, young men would gravitate to her, and she stood a chance of finding someone. He covered Beth's hand with his and bowed his head, silently praying for her. He lifted his head. "There's somewhere you'd like to be tonight other than washing dishes or working in that stuffy office in the store. Am I right?"
"Then go."
Beth kissed her Daed's cheek, told her Mamm and Lizzy she'd see them later, and left.
Lizzy moved to the window and watched as her niece walked past small groups of young people. She overheard both women and men asking Beth to stay. Beth shook her head, smiled, and waved
Before making her way across the road and into the pasture near their store.
"You said nothing that will nudge her to change how she's handling life," Lizzy said.
Stephen placed his hands on her shoulders. "Henry's death is the hardest thing this family has faced. Pressuring Beth isn't the answer. Trusting God is."
Lizzy stood in silence as Beth harnessed her mare to a carriage. She knew where Beth was going. The cemetery. Again. And again. And again.
"Please, dear God, move a mountain for her." Stephen squeezed her shoulders. "Amen."

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 43 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 44 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 28, 2009


    I have always enjoyed reading Cindy's books and this was no exception. The Sound of Sleigh Bells was heartfelt and drew me into the story like no other. This story is of suffering and redemption and finding love after a loss and tragedy. You won't want to put the book down until you are on the last page...

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 5, 2012

    Fantastic Christmas Story!

    After reading The Christmas Singing, I simply had to go back and read The Sound of Sleigh Bells! I was not disappointed! Cindy Woodsmall has cemented my affection for the residents of Apple Ridge. I adore strong female characters and felt that Cindy did a wonderful job of combining the simplicity of Amish life and the strength that comes from loving the Lord in both Beth and Aunt Lizzy's characters. She also did a wonderful job of giving the characters real problems and helping them to overcome them without seeming trite or simplistic. You don't want to miss out on either of these Christmas novellas!

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  • Posted November 4, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    entertaining reading

    ive been reading all her books i love them all

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  • Posted November 3, 2011

    Quick, Simple and Sweet. Perfect of Christmas!

    The Sound of Sleigh Bells by Cindy Woodsmall

    I did something a little different and got the audio recording of this book. I drive a fair amount and wanted to listen to books while driving. But also, I wanted a book to listen to while doing chores.

    You see, I have 3 fish tanks and an terrarium. :) I have one tropical community tank with platys, ghost catfish, upside-down catfish, cory cats, guppies, balloon belly mollies, lyre tail mollies, a pleco, a peacock eel, otos and gouramies. I have another tropical tank with pea puffers. But since they are jerks they have to have their own tank or else the bite the tails off everyone else. The only thing they can live with are otos. And I have a third tank with African water frogs. They also share their home with a pleco. Then my terrarium has 2 White's Tree Frogs, Dwight & Daphne. They are super cute and have their own personalities. Dwight is a singer, he loves especially to sing to Star Trek, Coldplay and Kelly Clarkson (no idea why, but that's just his thing).

    Anyway, my point is that because I have so many tanks I have a lot of tank maintenance. Each has to be cleaned weekly, and the fish tanks have to have part of their water emptied and changed. It takes probably an hour to go through all the tanks, maybe longer. So, I wanted to listen to my book while cleaning my tanks. :)

    So, I listened to The Sound of Sleigh Bells by Cindy Woodsmall while doing my weekly cleaning and other chores.

    The Sound of Sleigh Bells is the story of Beth Hertzler whose fiancé died. Well past the proper mourning period, Beth is still wearing black all the time and has chosen to take herself out of the dating pool and live life as an old maid even though she is still in her twenties.

    Beth is very close with her aunt, Lizzy, who has also never married. Lizzy, and many others, are very concerned about Beth, and Lizzy wants nothing more than to get Beth to open up and come out of her pit of grief.

    But Beth enjoys her work: she helps to sell Amish craftwork or find other stores which will carry and sell Amish craftwork. On a trip to visit potential buyers and sellers, Beth comes across the most amazing carving of an Amish scene that she has ever seen. Beth is determined to help the mystery seller find someone to carry his amazing work! But her bishop will not let her sell them in Lizzy's store due to the fact that they are far too like graven images.

    Lizzy makes a trip to go speak to the carver about other possibilities when she discovers he is a young man who was injured in an accident and who has also given up on love. Lizzy comes up with the idea of getting Jonah to correspond with Beth. Jonah thinks he's writing to Lizzy and Lizzy thinks that Jonah is an old man who has carved the amazing woodwork. For the first time, Beth begins to open up to someone else, and Lizzy sees a huge change in her.

    But, when Jonah and Beth discover the deceit Lizzy has caused will it cause them to close down permanently and lose all the progress they made opening up to each other? Or will they begin to trust one another, as they actually are, and open their hearts during the Christmas season?

    Read, The Sound of Sleigh Bells to find out!

    What a great way to begin my foray into Christmas reading.

    This is such a sweet novel. I loved the connection that Beth and Jonah made, and there were definit

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Really Good Read

    The Sound of Sleigh Bells

    I love reading books about the Amish and Mennonite people, and the life they live. Once again New York Times best selling author Cindy Woodsmall, has written a captivating story about a young Amish woman named Beth, who can't move forward because she is trapped in her past.

    She blames herself for the death of her abusive fiance'. She is afraid to tell anyone about her relationship with him as she fears the rejection that may come. Beth has decided she will never marry. That it is better to live alone for the rest of her life.

    Then she meets a young Amish wood carver named Jonah and life begins to change. Can he break through the barriers she has built? Will she be brave enough to take another chance on love?

    This book will keep you guessing and is interesting from the first page to the last. Make sure you have the time to read the whole book, as you won't be able to put it down until you are finished. Then you will wish the story never ends.

    This is a must have for all readers.
    Whispering Winds Book Reviews

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  • Posted January 2, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Amish life-how refreshing and inviting.

    'The Sound of Sleigh Bells' is the first piece of literature I have picked up in years. Having had little desire in reading, I was instantly pulled in and could not put it down. I could personally relate to the characters, especially Beth Hertzler. The simple life style of the Amish people has changed my life and I will be forever thankful to Cindy Woodsmall for her part in it. I have since devoured all her Amish based books and eagerly await her next publcation.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2009

    The Sound of Sleigh Bells

    Very good Christmas read.

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  • Posted December 5, 2009

    Suzie Housley, Midwest Book Review

    Beth Hertzler is a young Amish girl whose heart broke the day her fiance died. She shut herself off from feeling anything or going forward with her life. She spends her day working with her Aunt Lizzy in a dry goods store.

    Aunt Lizzy is concerned with Beth's withdrawal from society. She feels that the time of mourning has long past. She wants to find a way to help Beth get on with her life by finding her a new love.

    When Beth takes an interest in an Artists wood carving Aunt Lizzy realizes this is the first time she has shown any interest since the death of her fiance. She decides to take matters in her own hands and track down the Artist. Her journey leads her to a single Amish man named Jonah Kinsinger.

    Aunt Lizzy realizes through Jonah's use of a cane and his two missing fingers he also has suffered his own form of tragedy. She sees him as someone in need of love and healing. She devises a plan to bring Jonah and Beth together; when two souls have been wounded they deserve to find happiness together.

    Will Aunt Lizzy's scheme to bring these two young people together succeed? Or is their hearts shattered beyond repair?

    The Sound of Sleigh Bells is the perfect way to spend a relaxing Sunday afternoon. Be prepared that once you start this book there is no way in which you will be able to put it aside. Cindy Woodsmall has written a beautiful romance where you will find yourself falling in love with her characters. The beauty her words convey are truly spectacular, they capture the true essence of romance!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 5, 2009

    The Sound of Sleigh Bells

    I have not read the book yet, but have read several others by this author. Very interesting, like her style, characters and plot. The Amish Mennonite people have always been interesting to me and their adjustment and struggles with the modern cultures/society. Real-life emotions from the heart and how they deal with them. Reminds me that when you want to make a change in your life you just have to be willing to do it. Once I get started reading the book, it is hard to put it down.

    Her other books which I have read include When the Heart Cries, When the Morning Comes, When the Soul Mends, and The hope of Refuge.

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  • Posted November 22, 2009

    Awesome Book

    Loved it. Couldn't put it down. Love the tidbits of knowledge she gives us about the Amish life. The mix of old world customs and modern romance is great.

    Invites me to read her other books.

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  • Posted November 18, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A Story to Warm Your Heart on a Cold Winter Evening.....

    I really loved reading this book. Maybe it's because it's about the Amish (I really love the Amish!), maybe it's the season of winter (winter=holidays=something else I love!), or maybe it's the simple fact of Cindy Woodsmall's beautiful talent of writing a story that I didn't want to end, that I loved this book so much!

    It's a story of hurt, guilt, faith, love and friendship between two Amish members. The plot of this story is simply life like and warm.

    I'm not going to make my review of this book too long as if I do I will be too tempted to tell the end of this magnificent story! And I don't want to do that as I don't want to spoil this for my followers! But I WILL give this book praises over and over, and I'll give the author a 5 star rating for a talent that is truly God-guided and inspiring. The Sound of Sleigh Bells is a book to curl up with at the fire place on a cold winter evening, with a cup of coffee, hot cider, or hot cocoa, and you'll be warmed from the start! It's a blessing you won't want to miss!!!!

    *This book was provided to me for review courtesy of the author and her publisher*

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  • Posted November 12, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Amish Christmas

    The sound of sleigh bells is something that brings great joy into the life of Beth Hertzler, yet the same sound brings pain to Jonah Kinsinger. This is a great Christmas or anytime read of growth, strength, forgiveness, moving forward, and romance with true love. Straight from the beginning even with the mystery of what really holds Beth back from looking for love brings a reader in to care for her with a slight of intrigue. Each chapter causes one to wish for her to open up to love. In a different manner, our other protagonist has his own set of dark past issues that hold him back from moving forward with life. It is one of those things were romantic or not, God put them together to learn something. It is the opening and shutting of doors in the future both good and bad for our characters that keeps those pages turning to see what happens next. The side story of true love unseen is fabulous and even though not a main picture in the book, so appropriate and good.

    This is one of those books that has a good plot and so many little facets that keep it interesting and different from other stories. A reader may assume they know what is to come next, but they do not see the whole picture until the end. Family is a theme, Christmas spirit is through out, and each chapter brings one deeper into the lives of very interesting characters. Cindy Woodsmall did well with her other series with the Sisters of the Quilt, and even though this is a stand alone Christmas book the quality of the story is right on key. I highly recommend her books to anyone looking for a short-ish story at right about two hundred pages for the winter time. I personally could hear the sleigh bells and children's giggles while reading her words of text.

    I look forward to reading her other new series coming soon starting with The Hope of Refuge.

    *This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.*

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  • Posted October 24, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A perfect Christmas gift

    I love Christmas novellas, and New York Times Bestselling author Cindy Woodsmall has written a captivating one. Well known for her exquisite, complex characterization, Woodsmall brings us three more vivid portrayals in The Sound of Sleigh Bells.

    Beth Hertzler will own your heart from the moment you meet her. The hero in this story, Jonah, is all that a hero should be. But it was Beth's Aunt Lizzy who is concentric in the tale. Delightful and somewhat nonsensical, Aunt Lizzy acts on an impulse that creates a casserole of confusion.

    A heartwarming romance, The Sound of Sleigh Bells is an ideal Christmas gift to yourself and others. Novel Reviews and I give it a high recommendation.

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  • Posted October 17, 2009

    The Sound of Sleigh Bells

    Cindy Woodsmall's new book "The Sound of Sleigh Bells" is a fantastic book for the upcoming Christmas season. Snuggle in with some hot cocoa. The characters are so well done, the story so moving, and such a wonderful ending! :-)

    Beth Hertzler works for her Aunt Lizzy at her dry goods store as a contact between the Enlischer retailers and the Amish craftsmen. She enjoys her job and people she meets. But, ever since her fiance died over a year ago, she's been unable to rise above the sorrow and remorse of that day. She continues wearing her black mourning clothing, and doesn't want to discuss anything personal.

    Duty calls and Beth needs to make a buying-and-selling trip. On her trip she discovers a wood carving that catches her heart. Unable to meet the carver, and discouraged by her bishop to pursue this kind of product, she is left with enjoying the one piece she owns. The piece tugs at her heart and she encourages her Aunt to meet the old woodcarver and see what options might open for them. Her Aunt wonders at her love of the carving, but encouraged by a ray of hope in her neice's bleak outlook, she decides to meet the woodcarver and see what happens.

    Meeting the young-looking woodcarver who has dealt with a loss of his own, opens a plan that Lizzy is afraid will fail, but is worth the risk to try. She lets the woodcarver think she is Beth and asks him to keep in touch by mail. Puzzled, he agrees.

    The next few months are filled with letters back and forth from Beth and Jonah (the woodcarver). Lizzy's well-intentioned deceit requires her to open Beth's letters from Jonah and black out any lines that reveal Jonah has met her before. Beth starts opening up to the "old" woodcarver and starts growing out of the depression she has been in. Would Jonah be safe enough to share the unbearable burden weighing on her heart? If she just shared her secret, would it help the burden to lift?

    I know you know that Beth and Jonah eventually connect. Would it be a great story if they didn't? But it is such a twist to hear how it happens. Each one needs to face a "fear". In our lives, we each have fears and difficulties we deal with. God knows how to orchestrate our lives to help us deal with those issues that we need to, but eventually we have to decide to co-operate and do our part for the healing and growing that needs to happen.

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  • Posted October 17, 2009

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    Can you hear them ringing?

    My synopsis: Lizzy had been worried about Beth, her niece, for awhile. The mourning period for her fiance, Henry, should have ended almost a year before - but Beth still wore the traditional black, visited his grave regularly, and didn't allow herself any time to feel joy.

    When Beth finally goes on a much-delayed buying trip, she wanders into Pete's Antiques, a store that wasn't on her agenda. She finds an Amish carving of children playing in the snow. Something about the carving touches deep inside her, and on a whim she buys it. She questions Pete about the carver, even though she knows her Bishop will not allow her to carry carvings in her store for Amish or Englischers. When she discovers that the carver is Amish, she feels she might have a chance.

    Unfortunately her Bishop doesn't budge on his stand concerning carvings so Beth hopes that Lizzy will travel to meet the carver and hopefully sway the Bishop into agreeing. Lizzy makes the trip because this carving has woken something in Beth that hasn't been there since Henry died. Lizzy is hoping it will be enough to bring the old Beth back. She expects to meet an elderly gentleman, as Pete from the antique store referred to him as Old Man. Instead, she meets Jonah - a 20-something, single, Amish man who walks with a cane and is missing two fingers. She senses that he has had to endure pain/hardship in his life and hatches a plan. Since she and her niece share the same name, Elizabeth Hertzler, and they both work in Hertzlers' Dry Goods, she asks Jonah if they can communicate by mail and hopefully work out a business arrangement that will benefit them both - but, she asks him to address his letters to Beth - never letting on that she is not Beth.

    When Jonah's first letter arrives, Lizzy makes sure that Beth gets it, and is encouraged when Beth writes back. Beth finds herself opening up to Jonah in the letters, thinking she is writing to an impartial older lonely man - not one of the young men that she distrusts so much. Well, you guessed it, before long Jonah figures out that Beth is not Lizzy and calls Lizzy to find out why the deception? Lizzy tells Jonah what she knows of Beth's mourning and eventually Jonah comes around - even though he feels that this deception is not the best way to start a friendship.

    When Beth discovers that Jonah is not who she thought he was - will the embarrassment and humiliation be too much for her to salvage the tentative friendship that had started?

    My thoughts: This is my second Cindy Woodsmall book, and I think I enjoyed it more than the first one - The Hope of Refuge. I liked the way that the friendship starts and you can feel the hurt and disappointment when they both think that their friendship is going to crash and burn. The reason for Beth's long mourning period, when it was finally revealed, came as a huge surprise to me - but it helped explain why Beth thought she had to shoulder Henry's death all by herself. The tone/style of Cindy's books I find to be very relaxed and flowing - sort of how I would picture Amish life - not rushing - but moving forward steadily and faithfully. Even though the title and the cover might have you thinking this is a Christmas read - it really isn't - it would be good to read at any time and I highly recommend it.

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  • Posted October 16, 2009

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    So much more than a Christmas story!

    This book was a nice, fresh insight into the Amish world without being forced. While it gave me a peek into the business side of Amish crafts and even some interesting insight into the whole graven images issue, the real impact of the book is dealing with forgiveness. Self-forgiveness.

    Beth has totally closed herself off from everyone and everything since her fiancee died. But there are some surprises in the reasons why she has done so, and it isn't necessarily because she is heartbroken. I love the way that Cindy really reaches into our darkest depths to see what we've done that is so bad that we can't forgive ourselves. Can God forgive anything? If so, shouldn't we?

    Lovely story that is so much more than just a Christmas story!

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  • Posted October 14, 2009

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    Bonnet Book

    Who would think that a Amish love story would be so captivating? Cindy Woodsmall books offer the reader a look into another culture that for some of us is just next door. The lure of living a simpler lifestyle is one of the reasons I find these books so appealing. But I don't know if I would give everything up quite so fast if I had too, I would definitely miss my computer. Right now I'm just happy looking forward to reading more Bonnet Books in the future.

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  • Posted October 13, 2009

    Short by sweet Amish novella about the season of hope

    The Sound of Sleigh Bells by Cindy Woodsmall is a moving novel of forgiving yourself placed within the Amish community. Beth Hertzler has devoted her life to working in her aunt Lizzy's shop as well as helping trade between the Amish and Englischers after the death of her fiance. The black mourning clothing she wears reflects the state of her heart. When she finds a carving by Jonah Kinsinger it touches her heart, awakening something long dead. Lizzy sees the connection and sets a plan in motion that could pull Beth out of her self-imposed exile once and for all or could push her farther away. I truly enjoy Woodsmall's Amish books. She doesn't surround every character with a halo and elevate the entire culture to the equivalent of sainthood like some other authors within the genre. Beth is a woman all of us can relate to, and Jonah's kindness would make any woman swoon. The romance between the two of them is poignantly rendered. It's a quick read full of hope and love.

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  • Posted October 13, 2009

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    A Vacation for the Heart, Mind and Soul

    Every time I read an Amish fiction novel, I am surely more and more pulled into it becoming one of my favorite genres. I have yet to find a piece of work that I have not thoroughly enjoyed. It is often surprising to me as I am a lover of mystery, suspense and quite frankly...horror. I once thought that Amish fiction and Christian fiction for that matter, could not possibly hold my attention. Boy was I happily wrong!

    Cindy Woodsmall weaves a story that reads so quickly that I had to force myself to put the book down so as to not finish it too soon. I could have easily finished The Sound of Sleigh Bells in one sitting, but that would have deprived me of an escape into the lives of Beth, Lilly, and Jonah, and that would have been a shame. This book was a vacation into a place so very real, warm and inviting!

    I loved each and every character and wished these were people I knew. Who would have thought I wished I could have grown up in a home such as this?

    It seems that Jonah and Beth have family members who want absolutely the best for them. They want them both to find happiness in all forms that it can bring. A partner for life is definitely on the top of the list! Beth and Jonah have both seen a side of life that is not easy to traverse through unscathed. Surviving and being comfortable may be just about all either can wish for, but maybe a second chance at joy can happen for both.

    My favorite part of this book: When I say that I felt I was on a vacation while reading this book, I speak the absolute truth. The Sound of Sleigh Bells quite literally pulled me away from a very stressful couple of weeks. The descriptions were so vivid and literally created a place in my mind. The family interaction was also fun to read.

    I totally would recommend this to anyone who enjoys good fiction. It is a story of healing and a story of removing the clutter of the past. I cannot wait to read more of Cindy Woodsmall's work. I am definitely a new fan!

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  • Posted October 11, 2009

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    Just hear those sleigh bells jingling

    To be honest, I was a bit hesitant when picking up this book. I've read one of the author's books in the past, and had a bit of trouble reading the subject matter in the book. It was enough for me not to be able to read the other two books in the series. Therefore I was worried that this book would be like that. Luckily, as far as I could tell, there's no connection and the storyline was one that rather enjoyable. I liked reading about Beth, Lizzy and Jonah. All three of them had very interesting story lines and I liked seeing the connections between the three. I thought it was interesting how the Amish portrayed in this story were allowed to be a bit more modern and freely use phones and other electronics. This is mainly due to the business but it's always fascinating to read.

    The problem with novellas is that because they are short, sometimes the story feels a bit rushed. The author has the hard task of making the entire story come across plus give the characters enough time to grow and develop in a shorter amount of words. In this case, it works well for the most part. I personally would have enjoyed seeing the confusion of identity between Beth and Jonah last longer. It would have been more interesting for them to think they were writing to who they were picturing instead of the actual person. As it was, the illusion ended too quickly. I'm still not ok with the way that the Amish seem to handle heavy subjects. Beth's fiance sounds like he had serious controlling and abusive issues but she never tells anyone this because it would look bad on them. This type of behavior makes me very wary of the community portrayed in Woodsmall's books. This book seems to be marketed as a Christmas story but I'm not really seeing it. Aside from a few references to the holiday in the book, it's almost not even an issue. I would classify it as more a winter time story. Overall, it's a nice short read perfect for a fall or winter afternoon. If you are a fan of Amish fiction you will enjoy this story.

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