A Plain and Simple Christmas by Amy Clipston
Publication Date: September 2010
(Received for review from Zondervan)
Purchase: Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, Borders, IndieBound
If you live in Morehead, KY or the surrounding area:
Purchase from our local independent bookseller: CoffeeTree Books
Borrow from our local library: The Rowan County Public Library
Amy Clipston on the Web: Website, Facebook, Twitter
Excerpt from A Plain and Simple Christmas
Synopsis (Barnes & Noble):
In the tradition of her widely popular Kauffman Amish Bakery series, author Amy Clipston tells the tale of Anna Mae McDonough who was shunned by her family four years ago when she left her Amish community in Lancaster County, PA, to marry an "Englisher" (non Amish) man and move with him to Baltimore. Now, eight months pregnant with her first child, she longs to return home for Christmas to reconcile with her family, especially her stern father, who is the religious leader for her former Amish church district.
So Anna Mae writes a letter to Kathryn Beiler, her brother's wife, to enlist her help. Kathryn asks her husband, David, if she should arrange Anna Mae's visit. David cautions her that a visit would cause too much stress in the family and instead suggests they visit Anna Mae and her husband in the spring. However, Kathryn arranges the visit anyway, believing in her heart that it's God's will for the family to heal.
When Anna Mae arrives in Lancaster for Christmas, she doesn't receive the welcome she expects and her world begins to fall apart, leaving her to question her place in her family - and her face in God.
A book filled with love, the pain of being separated from one's family, and the determination to follow God's will regardless of the outcome, A Plain and Simple Christmas is an inspiring page-turner that will keep you guessing what happens next... right to the very last page.
Bestselling author, Amy Clipston, well known for her Kauffman Amish Bakery series has brought readers a Christmas story about an Amish girl who defied her community and married a man who wasn't Amish. A Plain and Simple Christmas is a story about the love that families share regardless of the circumstances that arise to keep them apart, how God works in mysterious ways to bring about healing and what part love plays in religion.
Anna Mae McDonough was shunned four years ago for marrying a man who wasn't Amish. It's Christmas and she desperately wants to find a way to bring her family back into her life. She's pregnant with her first child and is feeling the separation in very deep way. When she shows up at Christmas her family seems less than thrilled and Anna's life begins to spiral out of control. She begins to doubt herself, her decisions and even her faith. But, Christmas is the season of miracles. Can Anna Mae and her family put aside their differences? Or is it really too late.
I have not had the privilege to read any of the Kauffman Amish Bakery stories. A Plain and Simple Christmas is my first read from Amy Clipston, but it certainly won't be my last. Clipston's style of writing really appealed to me. It had a very emotional quality to it that pulled me in as a reader and made me really feel for the characters. Not only was Anna Mae suffering from being estranged from her family, but her family suffered as well. The dialogue used between the characters also showed great use of empathy. It moved the plot forward while also creating intimacy and conveying a lot of emotion for the readers to pick up on.
This was very emotional book. I can't imagine being apart from my family at Christmas time, let alone any other time of the year and adding to that a first pregnancy would be almost unbearable. Anna Mae was such a compelling character, readers will be able to feel her pain and understand her longing to have both her family and her faith. When it seems she can't have but one or the other. I loved the way the author was able to convey the seriousness of her decision to marry someone outside her faith. Clipston also shows the confusing emotions of those in her family, especially her father, when he tries to reconcile what he feels is his daughters betrayal of their faith, with the feelings of love he still feels for her.
I really enjoyed this novella and felt it was just right for the holiday season. At just under 200 pages, it's a quick read, which is wonderful for the hustle and bustle this time of year. It's a story about love and understanding and that's what Christmas is all about to me. I recommend this one to readers who love Amish fiction, Christian fiction or just a good heart felt Christmas read.
A Plain and Simple Christmas is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.
I'm giving this one 4 out of 5 apples from my book bag!
Amy Clipston is the bestselling author of A Gift of Grace and A Promise of Hope in the Kauffman Amish Bakery series. She lives with her husband Joe, and two sons in North Carolina.