Wednesday, January 24, 2007

[Book Review] THE PREACHER'S DAUGHTER by Beverly Lewis


Laura Bonds reviews THE PREACHER'S DAUGHTER by Beverly Lewis (Bethany House, 2005)

Annie Zook is a preacher’s daughter in her early twenties who has lived all her life among the people in her small Amish community of Paradise, Pennsylvania. Louisa Stratford, a modern woman and “Englisher” from Denver, Colorado, is a young art instructor engaged to be married, and Annie’s long-time pen-pal. During the friends’ written exchanges over the years, each has become fascinated with the vastly different life that the other leads. Annie loves to paint and yearns to be an artist full-time, but creating art is strictly forbidden by her church district, so she must keep her passion a secret from her community. Louisa has become disenchanted by the trappings of her hectic, modern-day life, and wishes to escape it all. When she decides to go to Paradise to experience a simpler life, Louisa’s influence could either push Annie closer to her home and church, or tempt Annie to pursue her own dreams against the established mores of her community.

Beverly Lewis’ The Preacher’s Daughter, the first book in her series Annie’s People, will appeal to anyone interested in learning about the Amish community and its traditions. The dialogue is filled with particular phrases and words unique to the Amish, and while never pedantic or preachy, the author takes great care to accurately describe the day-to-day activities and reasoning that support the values and traditions of this enigmatic American population. The writing style itself is very straightforward and uncomplicated, leaving the reader immersed in the quiet atmosphere of Pennsylvania-Dutch country. In addition to creating this specific mood, Lewis also succeeds in weaving intriguing storylines throughout the novel. Not only is the reader absorbed into the main plot of Annie’s moral dilemma, there are side plots of a mysterious kidnapping and domestic abuse that are propelled by a well-developed cast of satellite characters. Having never read anything classified as Gentle Fiction before and expecting not to like the genre as much as I do others, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this title. I was very taken by the characters that Lewis portrays and the world they live in, and I look forward to picking up the next book in the series (The Englisher) and reading what happens next to Annie and her people.

Laura Bonds, Circulation Department

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