Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Trilogy review - The Sisters of the Quilt by Cindy Woodsmall

A co-worker loaned me this trilogy - she told me it was one of her favorites, so I was interested to read it. I don't read a lot in this genre - I know some people call it "bonnet romance" - but I had read and reviewed The Hope of Refuge by the same author last year, and while it didn't make my list of top reads for the year, I did enjoy it. I was interested enough in reading more by Woodsmall that I was happy to accept the loan - I decided to just write one post about the three books, recording my thoughts about each one as I finished.

When the Heart Cries by Cindy Woodsmall (Sisters of the Quilt, book 1)
published 2006
326 pages

synopsis from publisher:

Despite being raised in a traditional Old Order Amish family, seventeen-year-old Hannah Lapp desires to break with custom, forgo baptism into the faith, and marry outside the cloistered community. She’s been in love with Mennonite Paul Waddell for three years, and before returning to college for his senior year, Paul asks Hannah to be his wife. Hannah accepts, aware that her marriage will change her relationship with her family forever.

On the evening of their engagement, tragedy strikes and in one unwelcome encounter, all that Hannah has known and believed is destroyed. As she finds herself entangled in questions that the Old Ways of her people cannot answer, Hannah faces the possibility of losing her place in her family, in her community–and in the heart of the man she loves.

My thoughts:

While this was an entertaining enough read, I think I can tell this is one of the author's earlier works. The character development doesn't feel as rich as it did in The Hope of Refuge, and she seems to rely more on predictable plot devices. It was pretty easy for me to determine what was going to happen next, and I was right with relatively few exceptions.

I'm a bit surprised by the fairly negative depiction of the Amish lifestyle - Hannah's parents and community are portrayed as narrow and almost cruel, which is definitely a different tone than I had expected. There is a LOT of disaster in this novel - I hope the second is lighter, just because I feel like Hannah really needs a break from the tragedy.

I'll keep reading, but I'm not completely sold.

Finished: 1/20/10
Source: loan from Kayla
Rating: 6/10

When the Morning Comes by Cindy Woodsmall (Sisters of the Quilt, book 2)
published 2007
317 pages

synopsis from publisher:

Her relationship with former fiancee Paul Waddell in tatters, Hannah Lapp has fled her home in hopes of finding refuge with another Amish outcast, her shunned Aunt Zabeth in Ohio. Hampered by limited education and hiding her true identity, Hannah struggles to understand the confusing world of the Englischers and embrace unfamiliar freedoms, but a deepening friendship with the handsome Martin Palmer renews her courage to face the future.

Meanwhile, Hannah's absence and the distressing events that led to her disappearance create turmoil among her loved ones in Owl's Perch, Pennsylvania. Her father stubbornly refuses to search for her or to acknowledge increasing signs of instability in daughter Sarah, who suffers secret guilt over her sister's ruined reputation. Fiancee Paul Waddell is wracked with regret over his betrayal of Hannah's trust and is concerned with her whereabouts. He befriends Hannah's remaining allies - brother Luke, best friend Mary, and loyal Matthew Esh - trying to convince them to help search for his love.

My thoughts:

I enjoyed this book more than the first in the series. Hannah is given a chance to grow, and is able to make things happen, rather than just having things happen to her. Her relationship with Martin is much more believable, and her friendships with the Amish women she tries to help are refreshing.

I'm still not sold on the drama happening back in her home town - many of those characters just irritate me, so I am considerably less interested in their parts of the story. However, I do hope for a happy ending for several of them, so will continue reading the final book in the series.

I can't say there is anything about this series so far that is especially deep or well-written, but I am invested enough in Hannah's character that I want to know how things turn out - and I most definitely have an ending that I DO NOT want to see.

Finished: 1/23/10
Rating: 7/10

When the Soul Mends by Cindy Woodsmall (Sisters of the Quilt, book 3)

synopsis from publisher:

After receiving a desperate and confusing call from her sister, Hannah Lapp reluctantly returns to the Old Order Amish community of her Pennsylvania childhood.

Having fled in disgrace more than two years earlier, she finally has settled into a satisfying role in the Englischer world. She also has found love and a new family with the wealthy Martin Palmer and the children she is helping him raise. But almost immediately after her arrival in Owl’s Perch, the disapproval of those who ostracized her, including her headstrong father, reopens old wounds.

As Hannah is thrown together with former fiancĂ© Paul Waddell to work for her sister Sarah’s mental health, hidden truths surface about events during Hannah’s absence, and she faces an agonizing decision. Will she choose the Englischer world and the man who restored her hope, or will she heed the call to return to the Plain Life–and perhaps to her first love?

My thoughts:

*still reading - had this post pre-scheduled but life got in the way of my finishing the book. Will update when I am done. =) *

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