Sarah Price delivers a delightful retelling of a beloved classic, featuring a young Amish woman who turns to faith as her guide even in the darkest times . . .
Sadie Whitaker is determined to be a good daughter, but her stepmother, Rachel, has made no secret of her overwhelming jealousy—or her desire to get Sadie out of her life. Rachel’s latest plot involves marrying Sadie off to a widower in need of a mother for his unruly children—and she has convinced Sadie’s beloved father to agree.
Left with no choice, Sadie flees her small Amish hometown of Echo Creek. Planning to hide in a nearby forest, she stumbles across a house that belongs to the seven Glick brothers. All outcasts from the Old Order community of Echo Creek, they generously agree to let her stay—and for the first time in ages, Sadie feels safe and needed, keeping house for them as any good Amish woman would do. Until, that is, the Glicks’ handsome cousin comes to visit. For though he awakens her heart’s desire, she can’t risk revealing her true identity, until love and faith give her the courage to take a chance on happiness . . .
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. First Impressions, A Retelling of Pride & Prejudice, Sarah's salute to Jane Austen from an Amish perspective, debuted on the ECPA bestseller list 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
There was nothing in the world that made Sadie happier than being outside among the dairy cows. How she loved to sit on the large, flat rock near the stream, listening to the herd as the animals grazed in her father's pasture, chewing on the last remnants of summer's sweet grass or stepping into the stream to take a long drink of the cool water.
Overhead, the sky was clear, and it seemed as if the birds were singing their praise for the perfect weather. God had surely blessed this day. Sadie watched as they flew from the nearby fields to the edge of the forest, then back to the stream to dip their beaks in the shallow pools by the water's edge.
Sadie pulled her knees up, pressing them against her chest, then wrapped her arms around them. Her dark blue dress covered her legs but her toes poked out from beneath the tattered hem. She wiggled them, loving the way the smooth rock felt against the bottom of her bare feet.
In a few weeks it would be autumn, and, with that, the colder weather would soon descend on Echo Creek. She'd have to wear a wool sweater and shoes whenever she escaped the farmhouse to sit among the fields and spend time with the animals. She loved being there, listening to the water as it babbled along its journey, hearing the birds sing and watching the black- and-white cows graze among the last of summer's wildflowers.
A sigh escaped her ruby red lips and she let her arms drop from her knees. Leaning back, her palms pressed against the smooth rock, supporting her weight. Sadie shut her eyes and lifted her chin to the setting sun.
The rays fell upon her pale skin and she could feel the last remnants of their warmth as they danced across her face. She smiled to herself. Oh, how she enjoyed being outside, especially since it was on rare occasions that she managed to escape the many indoor chores of the farmhouse. Too often, she was stuck inside. There was always something that needed to be done besides the daily cleaning and cooking. Why, just the other day, she had spent all afternoon canning the last vegetables from their garden in preparation for the long winter ahead. And now that the days were getting shorter, there would be even less opportunity to spend time in the midst of nature.
That thought saddened her.
Winter was her least favorite season of the year, and not just because of the change in weather. Spending more time inside the house meant more time with her stepmother, Rachel. And, even though she loved her father dearly, sitting with him and her stepmother after the supper meal was her least favorite thing to do.
It wasn't that Sadie didn't love her stepmother the way she did her father. She did. However, ever since Sadie's father had married Rachel, the evenings had become the absolute worst time of the day.
Rachel seemed to enjoy nothing more than taking all of Jacob's attention. If Jacob asked Sadie a question, Rachel was always quick to answer for her, before changing the topic to one that interested her. And if Sadie did manage to sneak in an answer, Rachel always found a way to challenge or dismiss her.
Why, if Sadie claimed that the sky was blue, Rachel would find a way to turn even that around. It was almost as if Rachel intentionally tried to monopolize Jacob, and Sadie often wondered if Rachel felt threatened by the close father-daughter bond that she shared with her father.
Perhaps that was one of the reasons why Rachel seemed so intent on having her own babies.
Just three years prior, when she was thirty-three years old and Sadie just fifteen, Rachel had married Jacob. It had been an odd match, especially since Rachel wasn't from their small community of Echo Creek but from a neighboring sect several miles away.
Sadie vividly remembered when her father had told her that he would be taking a new wife.
"A mother for you," he had said, "and a wife to give me company when you are old enough to leave here and start your own family."
Sadie hadn't been upset. Instead, she had taken comfort in the thought that a young woman would give her father new life. It had been many years since her mother had passed away and it was time for Jacob to begin living again.
So, Sadie had welcomed Rachel with open arms.
But Jacob had been wrong. Rachel wasn't much of a mother to her. Perhaps it was because Sadie was already a young woman herself, being already fifteen and too old for Rachel to have much influence on her upbringing. But she certainly impacted Sadie's life in other ways.
In the beginning, she had been kind to Sadie and never spoke a harsh word to her. Instead, she tried her hardest to be Sadie's friend. She wanted them to do everything together: laundry, cleaning, cooking, even gardening, which was Sadie's favorite chore of all. It was the one chore that she looked forward to because she could commune with nature for hours on end. While she weeded, she loved to watch the bunnies as they tried to make their way under the fence to nibble a sweet lettuce leaf, or the chipmunk families that would dart between the rows of carrots and celery. Sadie knew all the little families by sight and even had funny names for some of them.
But there wasn't a day that passed when Rachel didn't mention one and only one thing: having her own children.
Rachel Whitaker was determined to give Jacob a large family. "Every man wants lots of kinner," she had said to Sadie one morning when she had shared her delight that she had skipped her monthly course. "I cannot wait to give him that gift which he truly desires," she announced while placing the palm of her hand on her stomach.
Sadie knew that Rachel wanted nothing more than to give Jacob a son. After all, who would inherit the farm if Jacob didn't have a son to pass it down to? It was most likely that Sadie would soon find a man worthy of her love. And, like most young Amish men, he would already have his future planned. It was unlikely that he would be willing to take over Jacob's farm.
However, God hadn't seen fit to give Rachel that gift. Not yet, anyway. Now that she was nearing thirty-seven, Rachel was becoming more and more despondent with each passing month.
And that made life all but unbearable for Sadie Whitaker.
She looked up when she heard her father calling her name. "Over here, Daed!"
Within a few minutes, her father made his way over the hill and, upon seeing her, smiled. "Why, there you are!" he said with a wink. "I should've known you would be here."
He knelt beside her, his knees cracking as he did so, and shielded his eyes as he stared across the stream. For three years, it had been just the two of them. When Sadie was twelve years old, her mother had died during childbirth. She'd suffered four miscarriages in the years since Sadie's birth and the midwife had warned Sarah not to try for any more children. But, like her successor, she, too, was determined to give Jacob a healthy son. Her fifth, and final, pregnancy had ended with a stillborn boy, and Sarah passed away early the next morning.
Heartbroken, Jacob and Sadie spent the next three years trying to live as normal a life as possible. They developed a strong bond, perhaps stronger than that of most fathers and daughters. The first year hadn't been easy. But, with the help of their community, they seemed to get through the worst of it and eventually found a nice rhythm to things. Sadie would take care of the household chores while her father did the majority of the farmwork. The only time he used hired hands was during hay baling, which took place two to three times a year.
"What have you seen today?" her father asked as he glanced across the stream.
Sadie gave him a broad smile and began to count off on her fingers as she listed the creatures she had observed. "Two chipmunks, a field mouse, four sparrows, lots of nuthatches ..." She paused and pointed to one that was splashing in a shallow eddy of water. "And a wild hare. Came close enough that I could almost have touched it."
Jacob laughed, his eyes twinkling. "I imagine you could have. Those woodland animals have never shown any fear toward you, my dear child."
She liked hearing her father laugh. It reminded her of the three years that they'd spent alone together before Rachel entered their lives. It wasn't that Rachel was an unpleasant woman. No, that wasn't it at all. But, in Sadie's opinion, her stepmother was far too needy of Jacob's time and attention.
And her father was very willing to give it to her, even though it came with a hefty price.
"Were you looking for me for a reason, Daed?" Sadie asked, her large blue eyes staring up at him.
He nodded and reached up, stroking his salt-and-pepper beard. "Ja, your maem needs your help with supper."
Typical, Sadie thought, her heart feeling heavy for her father. It was always this way. As if it wasn't bad enough that Jacob had no sons to help with the farmwork, Rachel was forever sending him on silly errands. Rather than ring the large dinner bell outside the back door, she had sent Jacob to fetch her. Sadie often wondered if her stepmother did that just to establish her control over Jacob.
Obediently, Sadie got to her feet and brushed off the front of her dress. "Well then, I reckon I best get going."
As they walked back across the field toward the farm, Sadie amused her father by telling him about the sparrow's nest she had stumbled across. Although it was vacant, for the baby birds were long gone now that it was approaching autumn, there remained a bunch of feathers within, which Sadie had gathered together to make into bookmarks. She reached into her apron pocket and handed one to him. A gift.
"I'll use that to mark my place in the Bible," he said. And Sadie knew that he meant it.
As they neared the farm, Jacob gave her an encouraging smile before he turned toward the barn and Sadie headed toward the house.
"Maem?" she called out to her stepmother as she entered the kitchen. Before Rachel could respond, Sadie caught sight of her stepmother standing inside the bathroom, peering into the mirror and fixing her hair. "Daed said you needed my help with supper, ja?"
"Just a minute, Sadie."
Leaning against the counter, Sadie watched Rachel with mild curiosity. It wasn't the first time she had caught her studying her reflection.
Rachel took more time caring for her appearance than Sadie thought was necessary. Her self-absorption seemed almost too prideful and sometimes made Sadie uncomfortable. Sadie continued to study Rachel, with her fair face and almond-shaped eyes, the color of a summer shadow on an aging tree trunk. She parted her dark hair in the center and pulled it back in the typical Amish fashion, which made her appear more youthful than other women her age, especially since she had never gained weight from birthing many babies.
But yet, as of late, Rachel appeared a bit piqued and thick around the waist. It made Sadie wonder if, finally, her stepmother was pregnant.
"Feeling well today?" Sadie asked when Rachel finally emerged from the bathroom.
Despite her pale cheeks and tired eyes, Rachel managed a smile. "Ja, well enough, I reckon." She pressed her hand against her stomach. "Bit queasy, though."
Was that her way of telling Sadie that, indeed, she was expecting? Sadie knew better than to ask outright. Amish women didn't openly discuss such things, except with their husbands. "Oh. I see." Sadie searched Rachel's face for a hint, hoping she might give something away. Perhaps an indication that her queasy stomach might be resolved in a few months rather than a few hours.
But Rachel remained unreadable.
"Mayhaps I can prepare supper then?" Sadie offered. "You could sit and relax a spell since you're not feeling well."
The corners of Rachel's mouth twitched, almost as if she wanted to frown at Sadie's kind offer. "Nee, I can do it. I'm not that poorly that I can't fix my family supper."
Stung by the rejection, Sadie lowered her eyes. It wasn't the first time Rachel had refused Sadie's kindness. Whenever Sadie offered to do something extra for Rachel, something to relieve her burdens, her stepmother seemed to take offense. She much preferred being in control and always directed Sadie on how to help. Working alongside each other was one thing, but having Sadie do things her way was quite another.
"But you can go to the cellar and fetch some potatoes." Always a command and never accompanied by a please or thank you. "You know how your daed loves mashed potatoes for supper."
Sadie nodded and headed toward the cellar door, where they kept the root vegetables and canning. She felt dismayed, already knowing how the rest of the evening would most likely play out. Rachel would fret over not feeling well, Sadie would do most of the work under the direction of her stepmother — who would take credit for it — and her father would sit at the table, listening intently as Rachel monopolized the conversation.
Oh, how Sadie longed for the morning to arrive. Tomorrow Rachel would be visiting with the bishop's wife so Sadie would have time to escape the house and explore the forest just beyond her father's pastures. More time alone spent among nature was what she hoped for most. In the meantime, she remained the dutiful daughter and hurried into the darkness of the cellar to fetch those potatoes. After all, her father loved his mashed potatoes.CHAPTER 2
Wednesdays were usually less busy for the Whitaker women. Laundry was always done on Mondays and Fridays, cleaning on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and gardening on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
But with autumn almost upon Echo Creek, the gardens were all but finished producing for the year. With the exception of a few pumpkins and acorn squash, the plants were brown and dry, their leaves withered already.
After the noon meal, Rachel gathered her shawl and packed up a butter cake to take to the bishop's wife, who lived in Echo Creek proper. It was a long walk to town, and Sadie was glad for that. Now, she was free to explore without criticism. All too often, Rachel would pass judgment on Sadie when she wandered off to the hayloft to see if the new litter of kittens had been born yet or to check on her favorite cow to see if she was feeling better. Or even worse, Rachel would forbid her to bring an injured wild creature into the house so she could tend to it during the night. Sometimes, she would make Sadie sleep in the barn if she wanted to nurse a baby bird back to health or bottle-feed a kitten whose mother had rejected it at birth.
The Whitakers' farm was one of the last ones on the southern road leading out of Echo Creek. Just beyond their farm was a forest on one side of the lane and patches of pasture on the other. A few miles farther down, there was another small Amish community with its own bishop, preachers, and deacon. Occasionally, the youth might attend the singings and volleyball games at Echo Creek, but other than that, Sadie hardly knew any of those people.
Her interest wasn't in the pastureland or the small Amish community to the southwest. Instead, she enjoyed wandering through the forest on the days when she knew she could escape the house for more than an hour at a time. And, with Rachel gone visiting, today was the perfect opportunity to do just that.
Over the years, she had wandered the woods near her father's farm so frequently, she had worn paths through the small clusters of trees. Sadie knew exactly where the best rocks to sit upon were. The rocks where she could clearly hear the squirrels chatter in the trees overhead and see the bunnies as they poked their heads out of the rabbits' nests. And she knew the watering hole, fed by the creek on her father's property, where the deer came to gather and quench their thirst.
On hot days, she would sit on the edge of the small pond and dip her bare feet into the water. Because of the way the creek fed into it, the water was always fresh and crystal clear. Sometimes she, too, would kneel down and drink from it while she kept an eye out for toads among the grassy reeds. Today, however, she simply sat and leaned back, staring up at the treetops. The leaves were just starting to turn, hints of red, yellow, and orange emerging on the summer greenery. She didn't venture too far from the pond, knowing that the woods were much denser just beyond it. Not being as familiar with that area, she rarely traveled farther than her eyes could see into the forest.
Getting lost in the woods was not something she wanted to chance.
Behind her, she heard a crinkle of leaves and the snap of a twig.
She turned her head and squinted against the bit of sunlight that was filtering through the trees. With a hand lifted to shield her eyes, she could just make out the form of a six-point buck as it made its way to the watering hole.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Sadie"
Copyright © 2018 Price Publishing.
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