Set in Western Pennsylvania and Kentucky, this second novel in the "Kentucky Brothers" series picks up the saga of one family--actually a blended family of sisters and brothers as they deal with the crises of living. The story of Titus Fisher was told in the first novel The Journey wherein he found a way of beginning a new phase of his life by accepting the invitation of friends and relatives to move to Kentucky to an Amish community where he could find work and get away from his home community where memories of a disastrous failed romance were almost more than he could bear. At the end of that first book, Titus' brother Samuel had just found his pregnant wife Elsie dead after she fell down the basement stairs. She was pregnant with their fifth child.
Samuel is a deeply spiritual man whose love for his wife was all-encompassing. He is a very good provider and loves his children dearly, but now that Elsie and their unborn child is dead, he is finding it almost impossible to remember the grief of his children for their mother as his sense of loss overwhelms him. He is aware of and grateful for the support, prayers, and expressions of caring from his Amish community. But everywhere he looks he sees reminders of Elsie and his heart feels like it is being repeatedly assaulted with her loss. He decides to accept the invitation of his brother Titus to move to Kentucky over the objections of his parents and close friends. He can't remain where Elsie's memory is always staring him in the face.
Esther Beiler is a woman who first makes her appearance in The Journey as a woman Titus was initially interested in as a possible wife. But it soon became apparent that they just didn't suit, and Esther's heart remained untouched. Now her parents have moved back to Pennsylvania and she is left behind to care for their house and to find work after the sale of her parents' store. And opportunity to care for Samuel's children opens up and she is delighted. She has longed for a home of her own and children to care for, and being with Samuel's brood has filled an empty space in her heart. Even though she is aware of Samuel's deep grief, she sees in him so many qualities she wants in a life partner and before she knows it, her heart is engaged.
As always, Ms Brunstetter's books give the reader a genuine taste of life, but life through the context of the Amish faith and lifestyle. Simple though their way of life may be, it is still real life with real people whose faith sustains them and guides them directly in their choices and decisions. Both Samuel and Esther are forthright in their desire to have their lives testify to living according to what they believe to be God's will for them. And it is inspirational to see them struggling to make sense of life crises that are all too common and yet, their constant faith in a loving God keeps them grounded. Samuel is like so many who have lost spouses who are deeply loved--can finding a new love be a form of betrayal to the spouse now gone? He must come to a new understanding that human beings can never promise "forever" as we have no control over the future and only God can claim "forever" as a quality of life.
This is a warm and wonderful story of love that is lost, grief that must be endured, lives that must move on, caring and loving that can never afford to wane, and the healing power of prayer, support, friends, family, and one's devotion and faith in God. Interwoven in Samuel and Esther's story is the continuation of Titus and Suzanne's courtship as Samuel's needs and concerns almost overwhelm their relationship and place some significant pressures on their future life together.
No matter what one's faith practice or belief, these stories set within the Amish context are so very readable, wonderfully entertaining, filled with graceful and loving people, and instructive as to an alternate way of approaching life's dilemmas. They are the kind of stories we can proudly give to your teens and know that there is still real living involved without the dark and negative approach to problem-solving. Add in the fact that this author has been engaging the interest of readers for years with over 85 published novels and you have a novel that is well worth the time and effort to read, is instructive and entertaining, and leaves the reader--me, anyway, feeling like I deeply satisfied. I highly recommend this book and give it a rating of 4.5 out of 5.
This novel is due to be released 01 September 2011.