An Amish Year: Four Amish Novellas is a collection of four beautiful short stories, written by Beth Wiseman. These four novellas have a few characteristics in common, which are elements of suspense, humorous conversations, and usage of Pennsylvania Dutch words.
The first novella is titled Rooted in Love. Romance is the key player in this short story. Saul is madly in love with Rosemary. She keeps holding herself back, even though she likes him too. The reason is kept a secret till the end of story. Beth has created very practical circumstances to bring Saul and Rosemary closer. For instance, her dad meets with an accident because of Saul. To help her dad with the gardening, Saul offers his help. Thus, they start meeting each other every day. Romantic dialogues have given a life to the story. The expression of Rosemary’s intense feelings is very tasteful. My favorite part is, when she says to herself, “It’s always been you too, Saul.” Even though it seems a simple line, it has a pool of emotions in it. Every romantic soul will feel attracted towards the magnetic charms of Beth’s beautiful narration of characters’ thoughts and feelings. What I admired the most, however, is that Beth has not kept other characters in the background; in fact, their stories have helped the main characters to move forward. Rosemary’s father is in love with a lady named Katherine, and she inspires Saul by saying, “Saul, life is too short for regrets or to take anything for granted. If you really love Rosemary, don’t give up. Things happen on God’s time frame, and maybe there’s a reason that you two didn’t get together when you were younger..” The usage of humorous dialogues has kept me – as a reader – interested in reading the story.
The Second novella, A Love for Irma Rose, is another short love story. Main characters of the story are Irma and Jonas. Jonas has always felt in his heart that Irma is the one for him. But Irma’s heart beats for another guy, Jake. Again, Beth has done an incredible job in creating circumstances to get Irma and Jonas closer. James’ family consists of his mother and four sisters. When his mother falls sick, Irma offers to help his family by bringing food to them every day. During one of her visits, she finds out that the cops have arrested Jonas. Until the end of the story, love triangle keeps readers captivated. She has sprinkled light humor here and there. My favorite one is, where Beth mentions that Jonas’ horse, Bud, has a very bad timing of relieving himself. “But Bud pooped more than any other horse around, and always at the wrong time as if he was showing off. Or just trying to irritate Jonas.” Beth is an expert in describing physical appearances of her characters. Her description makes visualization of the characters very easy, for readers. Her description of Irma Rose is extremely beautiful: “She was tinier than most of the women, with dainty features. Loose tendrils of golden hair framed her face from beneath her kapp , and if a man was lucky enough to attract her gaze, he could feel her green eyes searching his soul. Even though she was petite and flowerlike, she had the perfect balance of femininity and strength.” The author is excellent in writing love notes. Jonas’ love letter for Irma Rose is simple, yet spellbinding. A glimpse to it will make readers understand my point,” I want to raise a family with you. I want to love you for the rest of our lives. I want to hold and protect you. I want to cherish you..” Even though the words are simple, these are enough to exhibit the depth of Beth’s writing.
Patchwork Perfect is the third short story in the book. This is a story about Eli, who lost his wife in an accident. He has two children: one daughter, Grace and one son, Ben. Eli is eager to get married once again. He moves to a new place, where he meets Elizabeth, Ruth, and Miriam. Out of them, Elizabeth and Ruth are widows, whereas Miriam never got married. Although Miriam is 28-year-old, she does not wish to be married. Eli finds her very attractive. She asks her out, but she declines his proposal. Eli goes on dates with both Elizabeth and Ruth. On the other hand, Grace is dating a guy named Wayne. Miriam catches them kissing in a room. She suggests Miriam give other boys a chance. Grace says that she knows better. Humor has a significant role in the story. According to me, Miriam’s description of Wayne that “he seemed to have an overabundance of cuteness, hormones, and confidence..” is funny. Also, when Grace hears that her dad is going on two dates in one day, she suggests that he should go to a dating school or something. Eli’s response to that is, particularly, cute,“ Dating school?…..Is there such a thing?” Beth has also written about the extents to which boys go to get, what they want from girls. Who is Eli going to marry? Is Wayne truly in love with Grace? The answer to these questions is for the readers to find for themselves. However, this is an interesting story, which touches a few sensitive topics. Beth’s craving for a mother is heart touching. The portrayal of Grace’s repulsion from the idea of his dad being remarried is worth admiring. An important lesson to never judge a book by its cover is also present.
Just when I thought that this book is a collection of only love stories, “When Christmas Comes Again” proved me wrong. This is the last novella in the book. Katherine Zook is a widow, who is a mother of four children: Stephen, Mary Carol, Linda, and Gideon. They are having a hard time dealing with the loss of their loved dad. Life of Katherine has changed due to the passing of her husband, but she is trying to do her best to hold her family together. For a few days, she notices that a man is following her. I thought,”Here comes the romance!” But I could not be more wrong. This man, named James, turns out to be the dad of her husband, Elias. James had left his family when Elias was very young. As the story progresses, James tells Katherine ways to help Gideon with his grief. The beauty of relationship of a grandfather with his grandchildren could not have been written in a better way. There are instances where James is being harsh to Mary’s boyfriend. These instances give a shade of reality to the story. Why did James leave his family? Why did he come back in their life, when Elias was dead?
The usage of Pennsylvania Dutch words, like danki and daed, have given a nice touch to the novellas. As a reader, I believe that Twists and turns won my heart. Amish people’s perception of Englisch is beautifully written. I am in love with Beth’s writing style. It is full of lively conversations, realistic circumstances, humorous dialogues, and beautiful depiction of feelings. I rate this book 5 out of 5. Readers who like reading short stories, with the expression of love, care, relationships, and light humor, will enjoy this book.