Book Review: “The Proving” By, Beverly Lewis

theprovingAfter five years as an Englisher, Amanda Dienner is shocked to learn her mother has passed away and left her Lancaster County’s most popular Amish bed-and-breakfast. What’s more, the inn will only truly be hers if Mandy can successfully run it for twelve months. Reluctantly, Mandy accepts the challenge, no matter that it means facing the family she left behind–or that the inn’s clientele expect an Amish hostess! Can Mandy fulfill the terms of her inheritance? Or will this prove a dreadful mistake?

“Mandy, you are to inherit the farmhouse, including the business of the inn.”

She could scarcely find her voice to respond. “Ach, this must be a mistake,” she told him, shaking her head as she talked into the phone, feeling befuddled. “The house . . . and everything related to the inn . . . shouldn’t that go to Arie Mae?”

Title:  The Proving
Author: Beverly Lewis
Publisher: Bethany House (sent to me for review)
Copyright: 2017
Format Read: Paperback
My Rating: 3/5
Goodreads

Quick Note:

“The Proving” was a first for me in a couple of ways. Excitingly, it was the first book ever sent to me by a publisher for review (THANK YOU BETHANY HOUSE!). It was also my first Beverly Lewis, and my first “Amish” read.  I wanted to make sure I was giving it a fair assessment, so I picked up a copy of “The Guardian” (the newest book by Ms. Lewis I could find in stock at my local library), and skimmed through that  quickly as well.

My Thoughts:

From the start I found this book a fairly easy read. I pretty much devoured it in 1 day.  The chapters are long enough to enjoy for a nice sit down, but short enough to also allow you to read it in spurts if need be. All of the chapters end with a hook  that draw you into continuing for “just one more chapter”. The story starts off  in a way that puts you smack in the middle of the family conflict (both past and present). It does leave you feeling a little off kilter, and trying to catch up – but not necessarily in a bad way.

My only real issue with this book was character motive inconsistency and development.  The main character, Mandy comes off from the get-go as melodramatic and a bit sad. I didn’t find much of a spark or connection with her until pretty much the end of the book. Many times it was hard to understand her motives or actions. When she’s living as an “Englischer” she pines for her old Amish life and home; romanticizing her memories; but then when she is back within her old life, she is constantly rebelling and throwing up walls around her. She talks about missing her family, but when she is back, she continues to be the cause friction with them (even after admitting to herself the old reason for the break with her family is obsolete now). She then doesn’t understand why she is being shut out because of her own actions. The character development and arcs within the book really seemed either inconsistent or non existent up until the last couple of chapters.

The introduction of Trina and the whole other second story line 4 chapters into the book really threw me at first. There had been no mention of the other major storyline in any of the blurb or info on the book that I saw, so it was a little jarring. That being said, Trina was a well fleshed-out, interesting character – and Gavin ended up being my favorite of the entire book (mainly because he didn’t swing wildly from one trait spectrum to the next).

I really enjoyed the relationship growth between Mandy and Karl, and wish that would would have been explored more, rather than the focus put on Trina’s story line. I think, based on my Christian fiction reading being mainly romance based (i.e. Lynn Austin or the “Love Inspired” series), I had expected this to be more of a romance involving the main character, rather than general fiction with a side of romance.

Apart from my character arc/development issues, I really did enjoy the prose of the story. The  dialogue differences she shows for the Amish and Others are charming and help give distinction. As a lover of farms and old homes, I absolutely loved the setting of Butterfly Meadows and could totally see myself there. WHere I live right now in California we are having a heat wave, and I could see myself out in Karl’s snowy sleigh-ride and then into the kitchen for some hot cocoa. Sidenote: all the food sounded AMAZING.

Overall, I give this book a 3/5. The book was easy to read, with an interesting plot setting, and great setting. I think this would be geared best to people who are tried and true Beverly Lewis fans. That being said, I would not rule out reading something else by her in the future.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Book Review: “Gone With The Wind,” Margaret Mitchell

51vXH2JGV8LGone with the Wind is a novel written by Margaret Mitchell, first published in 1936. The story is set in Clayton County, Georgia, and Atlanta during the American Civil War and Reconstruction era. It depicts the struggles of young Scarlett O’Hara, the spoiled daughter of a well-to-do plantation owner, who must use every means at her disposal to claw her way out of the poverty she finds herself in after Sherman’s March to the Sea. A historical novel, the story is a Bildungsroman or coming-of-age story, with the title taken from a poem written by Ernest Dowson.

Gone with the Wind was popular with American readers from the onset and was the top American fiction bestseller in the year it was published and in 1937. As of 2014, a Harris poll found it to be the second favorite book of American readers, just behind the Bible. More than 30 million copies have been printed worldwide.

 

Title: Gone With The Wind
Author: Margaret Mitchell
Publisher: Macmillan
Copyright: 1949
Format Read: Hardback
My Rating: 3/5
Goodreads

My thoughts:

The first and only time I read “Gone With The Wind,” I was 16 years old. Myself, along with 2 of my grandmothers and one of my aunts spent the week in a condo together at Lake Chelan. I spent pretty much the entire time lounging in the sun reading this book, loving every minute of it. Last year I was browsing in an antique shop looking for Abandoned Books (books with inscriptions, pre 1960’s)  where I found a 1949 copy of “Gone With The Wind” for $3.00.

I couldn’t be more excited, and was dying for a chance to re-read it.

Well, Fiddle-Dee-Dee, I kind of wished I hadn’t.

Don’t get me wrong, it is well-written book. I enjoy Margaret Mitchell’s writing style and voice immensely, and there is a reason it has sold so many copies and become a long lasting hit. I just had a few issues with the story.

There were a lot of times where I felt dialogue/plot lines to be repeating/over done and  certain shock points to be completely redundant. Also, after a while the whole Scarlett/Rhett/Ashley triangle felt like the beating of a dead horse. (I mean, WE GET IT. WE GOT IT HALF A BOOK AGO…) In generally, many of the characters were so skewed to their flaws or one particular quality – it was hard to find many to be likeable.

I understand for the time the book was written in,  a long, well descripted book was desired – as people had more time on their hands. In my opinion however, this book would have been much better if it was shortened by half.

One of the things I did find surprising, is how relevant the political themes in the book still are today. We still deal with a shyster government and surprisingly, rampant racism. There were aspects of the political climate from the book that if you just changed the clothing of the day, it would still  sadly be the same.

For Scarlett, as a heroine, she was strong in her way, and did what she thought she had to do in any given situation – and throughout the book the actions were true to her character. It would have been nice to see some gradual growth in her story arch, rather than all coming together suddenly at the end.

Overall, it was an O.K. book, and was interesting to revisit. I would love to spend some time at Tara the way it would have been before the war and I just, unfortunately loved the book way more at 16 than I do now at 34.