Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Choice, by Suzanne Woods Fisher

I've read very little Amish fiction--no small feat, considering how many Amish novels are out there right now. The Choice is the riveting story of Carrie Weaver, an Amish girl torn between two worlds. When the novel opens, she’s planning to run away with her boyfriend to live in the "English" world. In a sharp turn of events, her plans are thwarted by tragedy.
Fisher opens the world of the Amish and their beliefs to the reader with her skillful and gentle prose. She’s uniquely qualified to so do, as her grandfather was raised in the Old Order German Baptist Church in Pennsylvania.
The situations that arise in Carrie’s life twist and turn to the point where the reader can’t see how she will find her way to forgiveness and reconciliation with God. The Choice had me reading "just one more chapter" to find out how the story would end.
The Choice is beautifully written--I loved Fisher’s similes. Here’s one I thought was exceptional: “Emma hovered over Vonnie like a bee over blooming lavender . . . “ Here Fisher not only captures the essence of Emma’s hovering, she does it in a way that reflects the simplicity of the Amish world.
I thoroughly recommend The Choice. I’ll be looking forward to Fisher’s next book in the Lancaster County Secrets series.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Family Baggage, by Monica McInerney

I haven't posted a review since late November. "Family Baggage" in my personal life has kept me busy! Even though I wasn't posting blogs, I didn't stop reading, so I have a backlog of reviews to catch up on. For starters, I want to share my enjoyment of Family Baggage, by Australian author, Monica McInerney.
Harriet Turner, the protagonist in Family Baggage, carries this novel in a thoroughly captivating manner. McInerney has created a woman to whom many of us can relate.
The story opens with Harriet recovering from a breakdown following the deaths of her parents. Turner Travel, the family business, was started by Harriet’s parents, and is now carried on by Harriet and her siblings. She’s been given an assignment to take a tour group of senior citizens from Australia (her home) to the Cornish countryside. Her adopted sister, Lara, is scheduled to meet the group in England and guide their eccentric charges on the path a television series crime-solver of the previous decade followed. (Think “Murder She Wrote”.)
However, Lara fails to show up at the airport as planned. Harriet finds herself alone with a busload of characters who have all but memorized every episode of the old television show. If this weren’t enough, she discovers that Lara has disappeared. Uncovering her sister’s whereabouts leads to confronting long-held family secrets and resolving old family baggage.
McInerney is an Australian author whose novels remind me of Maeve Binchey’s. I love Binchey’s stories and love McInerney’s in the same way—appealing characters, a touch of humor, and plots that keep me turning pages.
Family Baggage is a terrific story. It's fiction for the general market, but contains little objectionable material.