In Sarah Price’s heartwarming Amish version of this best-loved fairytale, a hardworking, overlooked young woman is rewarded in unexpected ways . . .
“Be kind and have faith.” Ella Troyer strives to abide by her mother’s final words, although life in the small Amish town of Echo Creek isn’t always easy. Her new stepmother, Linda, treats her coldly, and her two stepsisters, Drusilla and Anna, delight in gossip and laziness. After her father’s death, Ella’s stepsisters are free to attend youth singings while Ella stays at home to manage the household chores, rarely seeing another soul. Until one day, while running an errand, she has a chance meeting with a young Amish man from a nearby town.
Drusilla and Anna are full of admiration for charming, affluent newcomer Johannes Wagler, and Linda hopes to ensnare him as a husband for one of her girls—while keeping Ella out of the way. As for Hannes, he longs to catch another glimpse of the mysterious young woman who can sing so sweetly and bake the most delicious pie he’s ever sampled. Now, with a little help from some unlikely sources, Ella dares to hope she might find her heart’s dearest wishes—for love, family, and a home of her own—coming true at last . . .
About the Author
Sarah Price comes from a long line of devout Mennonites, including numerous church leaders and ministers throughout the years. Her involvement with the Amish dates back to 1978 when she wrote her first novel, Fields of Corn, while studying anthropology and writing at Drew University. She was drawn to the amazing culture of the Amish of Lancaster County where Ms. Price is involved with numerous Amish communities and is considered family by some and friend by most others. Fields of Corn went on to become an Amazon bestseller and First Impressions, A Retelling of Pride & Prejudice, Sarah's salute to Jane Austen from an Amish perspective, debuted on the ECPA bestseller list. In 2014, An Amish Buggy Ride became a #1 Amazon bestseller in Religious Romance. Ms. Price has advanced degrees in Communication (MA), Marketing (MBA), and Educational Leadership (A.B.D.) and was a former college professor. She now writes full-time and talks about her books and her faith on a daily live stream with readers. Learn more about Sarah and her novels at SarahPriceAuthor.com.
Read an Excerpt
"Oh, these mice!"
Ella looked up at the sound of her stepmother's voice. Linda had just emerged through the cellar door, her arms laden with a dusty cardboard box of canning jars.
"Honestly, Ella!" Linda scowled at her stepdaughter as she kicked the basement door shut with her foot. "I won't go down there anymore if you cannot get rid of those dirty little creatures!"
Ella lowered her head so her stepmother couldn't see that she smiled to herself. "I'm sorry, Maem." It wasn't a lie, although if her stepmother had inquired as to what, exactly, Ella was sorry about, she'd be surprised to learn that Ella was sorry about having no intentions of getting rid of the mice.
Dropping the box onto the kitchen table, Linda brushed some dust from her sleeves. "You should be! I don't know why you fight me so on mousetraps!"
Ella knew better than to reply. It was an argument that was many years old and not worthy of rehashing. The truth was that Ella thought mousetraps were inhumane. And the sticky pad traps? Even worse. Whenever her stepmother brought home mouse poison, Ella would sneak down in the early morning hours to throw it away. After all, even mice were God's creatures and had a role in the world, even if her stepmother thought otherwise.
"I want that basement cleaned, Ella." Linda frowned, the deep-set wrinkles in her forehead making her look older than her fifty years. "It's full of cobwebs and dirt. I don't know how you can stand it."
It wasn't as though Ella went down there every day, but she didn't want to point that out to her stepmother. Besides, she knew that the basement wasn't half as bad as Linda claimed. Long ago, Ella had learned that sometimes her stepmother just needed something to complain about. Clearly, today was one of those days.
"I'll do it later," she said, even though, deep down, Ella knew that she probably wouldn't be able to get to it. After all, today was Saturday, and she needed to finish the laundry. Tomorrow was a worship Sunday, and she needed to make certain that everyone's worship clothes were clean and pressed. While she always washed the family's Sunday dresses and aprons on the Monday following service, leaving them hanging on a hook in each person's room, Ella never knew what her stepsisters might have done since then: dropped them on the floor, pushed other dresses into them, carelessly spilled something on them ...
Tending to the clothes worn for worship always took a long time.
And, of course, she needed to finish baking the bread that she had already started. Fifteen loaves of it.
Every day she made bread for her stepmother to sell at the store. Afterward, Ella would clean the bathrooms and kitchen floor, letting the sweet, yeasty smell of the bread fill the house while she worked. And then, of course, she needed to make supper. But, if time permitted, Ella would try to get to cleaning the basement so that her stepmother would have no complaints when she returned from working at the general store that evening.
No evening was enjoyable if Linda had reason to complain, that was for sure and certain.
Linda walked around the kitchen table and quickly washed her hands in the sink. "When Drusilla and Anna awake, make certain they eat breakfast before you send them to the store to help me. Otherwise they'll be snacking on inventory all day!"
Glancing at the clock, Ella saw that it was seven thirty. She had already been up for over an hour and was sorting the laundry by color. Whites would get washed in hot water, and colors in cool. While many Amish women disliked washing clothes in the old diesel-powered machines, Ella didn't mind. There was something relaxing about ridding the clothes of dirt, almost as if fresh clothes gave the wearer a second chance.
And her sisters definitely could benefit from that.
"I will, Maem."
Linda reached up to touch the sides of her graying hair that poked out from beneath her prayer kapp. "And send them with a nice dinner meal for the three of us. Something hot today, I think." She leaned down and looked out the window. "Ja, perhaps chicken and mashed potatoes."
The request made Ella pause as she mentally added it to her long list of chores. How would she be able to cook that in the short period of time between now and when her stepsisters needed to get to the store?
"And not so much pepper on the chicken," her stepmother scolded. "Why, I near choked to death on your last batch."
Linda smoothed down the front of her dark burgundy dress and reached for her purse. Without so much as a goodbye, she swept from the room, loudly shutting the door behind herself.
Picking up the basket of whites, Ella settled it on her hip and carried it to the back porch, where the washer and wringer dryer were located. She set the basket onto a bench and hurried down the three steps to where the diesel engine was. Within minutes, she had it started and hot water was pouring into the washer.
While she waited for it to fill, Ella glanced over to the bird feeders she kept at the corner of the property near the sunflower patch growing there. She knew the birds loved her sunflowers, which stretched from the end of the house all the way to the white picket fence in front of the house. When people walked to town, they always paused to stare at the giant sunflowers and to admire the collection of birds that lingered nearby to pluck the seeds growing from their big, friendly heads. But September was almost upon them, and with that, the end of summer. Soon the birds would migrate south, the sunflowers would droop and dry up, and the leaves from the trees would flutter to the ground — the end of yet another season in Echo Creek.
It had been a quiet summer, at least for Ella. Between managing the garden and tending to the house, she had more than enough work cut out for her. Her workload was so great that she hadn't even attended many of the youth gatherings or singings.
But that would change once autumn arrived.
At least she hoped so.
"Ella? Ella, where are you?"
She sighed. Drusilla was in the kitchen. "Out here, Dru. Washing clothes."
The door burst open and her oldest sister emerged, her long hair hanging down her back. "I can't find my brush. Where's my brush? Did you put it somewhere?" It wasn't so much a question as an accusation.
"Ja, I did," Ella replied, matching Drusilla's harsh tone with a congenial and light one. "In the bathroom drawer, where it belongs."
"Oh! Don't get sassy with me!" Drusilla snapped before promptly disappearing back through the door.
Ella glanced at the washer and decided she had time to investigate why Drusilla was in such a frazzled state. She followed her sister's footsteps and, after her eyes adjusted to the dim light in the kitchen, watched Drusilla fuss with her mousy-colored hair in the downstairs bathroom that everyone shared.
"Something important happening today?" Ella asked.
Tossing a quick look over her shoulder, Drusilla raised an eyebrow. "Why?"
"You seem rather ..."
Ella searched for the appropriate word. She certainly didn't want to insult Drusilla, who had almost as hot a temper as Linda.
"Oh, you silly goose!" Drusilla pursed her lips and frowned. "Mind your own business!" And with that, Drusilla used her bare foot to kick the bathroom door so that it slammed in Ella's face.
The sound of footsteps on the wooden stairs announced that Anna, too, was awake.
"I'll tell you, Ella," Anna said with a mischievous smile. She was one year younger than Drusilla and always seemed to be cheerleading for her older sister. But there were occasional moments when Drusilla wasn't around that Anna almost behaved like a real sister. Almost. "There's a new vendor coming to the general store today. From Liberty Falls! Drusilla is hoping he will be young and unmarried."
From behind the closed door, the muffled voice of Drusilla could be heard crying out, "Anna! You hush now!"
But Anna paid her no attention. "I'm hoping that, too." She giggled, her shoulders lifting up to her ears as she did.
The bathroom door flew open and Drusilla stood there, hands on her hips, glaring at her sister. "Now, Anna, gossip is akin to sin!"
"Then I'll confess to the bishop," Anna quickly retorted.
Ella knew that this conversation would end up with her two sisters having a heated argument, so she did what she always did: changed the subject. "What does the vendor sell?" She was genuinely curious, as she always liked to know what new products Linda purchased to resell at what used to be her father's store. For, while Troyers' General Store still bore his name, the Troyer in charge was no longer her father but her stepmother.
"What does he sell?" Anna repeated the question and gave her an incredulous look. "How should I know?"
Drusilla marched out of the bathroom, apparently satisfied with her hair. She had placed her prayer kapp on the back of her head and secured it with a single straight pin to a thin elastic band that she wore around the top of her head. "Clocks. He makes and distributes clocks."
Anna made a face. "Clocks? How unromantic!"
But Ella was intrigued. "Are they small ones or big ones? Do they sit on tables or hang on the walls?"
"Aren't you the inquisitive one?" Drusilla said hotly. "Perhaps you should be working at the store instead of us." She paused and put her finger to her lips, as if thinking. "Oh, wait, you can't because you have too much to do around here." And with that, Drusilla moved her hand and knocked the bowl of flour onto the floor. "Oops. Sorry about that."
But Ella reacted with neither a grimace nor a harsh word. Instead, she ignored Drusilla's unkind act and said a quick little prayer for God to forgive her sister. In the past six years, Ella had grown used to her sisters' mean-spirited ways. She forgave them every day at least seven times seventy, just as the Bible told her to do. Sometimes she wondered if she forgave them seven times seventy times seventy-seven, especially now, since her father had passed away unexpectedly the previous year.
"Now, I'd like some eggs for breakfast. Do you think you can manage that without making a mess of your kitchen?" The mocking tone in Drusilla's voice made Ella say the second prayer of the day for her sister.
"Mayhaps one of these days you might get up early enough to cook breakfast yourself."
Drusilla spun around and gave her a stern look. "My word! It seems you woke up on the sassy side of bed today, Ella."
Ella sighed, her shoulders slumping just a little. She hadn't meant to sound impudent. The truth was that all of the household chores fell on her shoulders, with Drusilla and Anna doing less and less every day. For so many years, it had been Ella doing all of the cooking, all of the cleaning, all of the everything!
While she knew that her two stepsisters worked many hours at the store, especially since Ella's father died, she also knew that their continual shirking of responsibilities in the home was a shortsighted plan. No Amish man would accept a wife who behaved in such a manner. And word traveled fast along the Amish grapevine. Perhaps that was why neither one of them had any serious suitors vying for their attentions. Well, at least not suitors that Drusilla and Anna felt were worthy of their attention, anyway — with the exception of Timothy Miller, who had brought Drusilla home from a singing recently, which was all the attention Drusilla needed. For two weeks, she had bragged about that buggy ride, and ever since then, she often disappeared from the store to visit someone — anyone! — who lived near the Miller farm, clearly hoping that Timothy might offer her a ride home.
"What was that sigh for?" Drusilla snapped.
Ella knelt down and began to clean up the flour on the floor. The more she tried to sweep it into a dust pan, the more the white cloud spread on the linoleum. "Oh, Drusilla. How will you ever feed your family if you don't know how to cook or bake? Isn't it time you learned?"
But Drusilla merely laughed at her. "Mayhaps I'll always have you around to do it for me, Ella. After all, I don't see many young men tossing pebbles at your window at night."
Ella was thankful that her back was to Drusilla so that her stepsister couldn't see the horrified expression on her face. Ella had several dreams for her future, but not one of them included living with either Drusilla or Anna, that was for sure and certain.
But Anna appeared oblivious to Ella's aversion toward Drusilla's comment and delighted with her sister's announcement about the pebble. "Oh, Dru! Was that the noise I heard on Saturday night?"
Ella looked up, startled at this news. Had someone come calling on Drusilla at last? She hadn't heard a buggy approach, nor had she heard any noises. She couldn't imagine who it might have been, for most of the young men in Echo Creek were already walking out with young women. Unless, of course, it was one of the men who lived farther from town. Despite being curious, Ella refused to ask any questions, for she knew that was exactly what Drusilla wanted her to do.
Anna, however, grabbed her sister's arm and demanded more information. "Who came calling on you?"
"I'll never tell." But the smug look on Drusilla's face said otherwise. Ella had no doubt that Drusilla would share her little secret with Anna the moment they were out of the house.
Sitting back on her heels, Ella placed her hands on her lap, not caring that the flour left white palm prints on the black fabric. "Well, it will be a short-lived romance if he starves to death during the first month of your marriage," she quipped.
Drusilla glared at her one last time, stomped her foot, and promptly turned to leave the kitchen, Anna in tow.
"What about your breakfast?" Ella called out.
"I'd rather starve with my future husband than have you cook for me!" Drusilla shouted over her shoulder as she dragged her sister out the door.
"You forgot to take the bread," she called after them, but knew that neither one of them would respond. She sighed, knowing that she'd have to box up the loaves and carry them to the store by herself. Just another chore added to her already long list for the day.
Still, as quiet descended upon the house, Ella tried not to feel pleased with herself. She suspected that, if the church leaders knew about her behavior, they would reprimand her for taunting Drusilla. They'd most likely have her reflect long and hard on her inability to behave prudently and hold her tongue. However, Ella also knew that the church leaders would disapprove even more of how her stepmother and stepsisters treated her.
It had started slowly, shortly after her father had married Linda. Drusilla and Anna were constantly excused from certain chores, due to their delicate nature or tendency toward having headaches. Ironically, after Ella's father died, both of her stepsisters seemed to suddenly have much stronger constitutions, and neither experienced another headache again.
But they refused to work around the house, which meant that Ella was left doing everything. The more chores Ella did, the more they seemed to expect of her. While Ella wasn't one to run to the church leaders, she knew that the time for change was coming. She felt it in her bones and sensed it with each passing day. Simply put, Ella knew she couldn't take much more of it. However, she also knew that her increasing aversion to the unfair treatment was not an excuse for her to behave in less than a perfect Christian spirit.
"Please, Lord," she prayed aloud, "I know that you have plans for me, that there is a time for everything, and that I prove my faith by rejoicing even when distressed by the trials of life set before me. Please forgive me for my sharpness of tongue and lack of patience with my family."CHAPTER 2
Later that afternoon, the sun was beating down on Ella's back as she knelt in the dirt, weeding the family's vegetable garden. Nearby was a large basket, filled to the brim with juicy red tomatoes and vibrant green cucumbers. She didn't remember having planted so many cucumbers, but the vines seemed to have multiplied overnight. They were overtaking the rest of the garden, strangling the other plants. Try as she might to keep cutting them back, the cucumbers continued to grow.
At least we'll have plenty of pickles for the winter, she thought.
Just as she was plucking the last of them, she heard the voices of her sisters, and then the creak of the gate, announcing their arrival.
Ella knelt back on her heels and wiped the sweat from her brow, her eyes staring down the gravel driveway as she waited for them to appear on the walkway.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Ella An Amish Retelling of Cinderella"
Copyright © 2018 Price Publishing, LLC.
Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is a delightful book. The last words Ella’s mother gave her were to always be good and kind. Ella strives to follow her mom’s advice, but her stepmother and stepsisters take full advantage of her. Little happiness remains in her life until she meets Hannes The stepsisters are outrageous do-nothings whose prospects for succeeding in life are zilch, but they can’t see that. The stepmother totally lacks business sense regarding the general store established by Ella’s father, and her cluelessness about her lazy daughters is priceless. Their come-uppance is ever so satisfying. Sarah Price has written a clever Amish fairytale.
Ella Troyer is faced with losing her mom gaining a new family and then losing her dad. She is reminded of her mother's memory to always be kind and nice. As she faces helping her stepmom and siblings with everything, she catches a suitors eye can she do it all or will something have to give? Every time I get my hands on Sarah’s book I just can’t put it down most nights reading late into the night and this was once again one of those books. I wanted to know what happened. I have read Sarah’s other book Belle and now this one and for whatever reason these books make me feel like I’m coming home. They are so good it makes you feel like your catching up with friends and the author has that way of just reaching through the pages to keep you interested and going from beginning to end. Seriously this book was amazing. I loved everything about it. The author kept it light but also with a lesson to be learned while reading this wonderful story. The author leaves you hungry both physically and spiritually. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Kensington Books and Netgalley. I was under no obligation to post a review and have given my honest opinion
In Ella, An Amish retelling of Cinderella by Sarah Price we are introduced to Ella Troyer. I admit, I was skeptical, how can Cinderella be rewritten as Amish, but Price does a wonderful job doing it. You fall in love with Ella, who life motto is “Be kind and have faith”. When her father remarries an Amish woman with 2 daughters from another district the story begins. Ella's father owns the general store in town and Linda and her daughters begin working there. Since Ella is a wonderful cook and seamstress she is the one to do it all at home. When Ella's father passes away, Ella's is made to do even more. You soon see who is the “Fairy Godmother” to Ella. The story flows and you feel you are in Echo Creek. I was given a copy Ella by NetGalley for an honest review.
Sarah Price brings us another book that is an Amish retelling of fairy tales. The does a great job following the Cinderella fairy tale, however, I read it with mixed emotions. I understand the Amish concept of forgiveness to others for their actions, however, I felt that Ella was too much of a “doormat” and perhaps should have been at least a little vocal towards her “wicked” stepmother and stepsisters’ abuse toward her. To me, she came across as “too holy (perfect)” of a person. I found myself almost to the point of not wanting to finish the book because of the abusive treatment to Ella and her lack of defending herself. I did want to finish, however, to see how the “Prince Charming” would handle the situation and was very happy and satisfied with the final actions of the book. I do still recommend it for those who enjoy Sarah Price’s books. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Kensington Books and Netgalley. I was under no obligation to post a review and have given my honest opinion.
I really enjoyed this take on Cinderella with an Amish flare, all except friending mice…nope not this girl. If you read Belle, she is here briefly, and now Sadie is missing, and hope found in the next book, but Ella is going to keep you page turning to the end. A great twist to an old fairy tale, there is even a mention of the brothers Grimm, love it! Of course, you are going into this story knowing of the evil step-mother and the wicked step-sisters, and all the time I am reading I have mind pictures of the cartoon characters, and boy to they fit the images. Once you pick up this one, you are not going to be disappointed, I read it in one sitting. I received this book through Net Galley and the Publisher Kensington, and was not required to give a positive review.