A Plain Leaving

Gould Offers a New Amish Series in Idyllic Lancaster County

At age twenty, Jessica Bachman left her two beloved sisters and her Amish community after clashing with the new bishop about her role in the family and the future of their farm. She tried to convince Silas Kemp, who’d been courting her for two years, to join her, but when he said no, she fled anyway.

Three years later, she returns home for the first time since leaving Lancaster to attend her father’s funeral. Her arrival back revives all sorts of emotions–yearnings and sorrows alike. Jessica knows things will never return to how they were. But in seeing Silas again, she can’t help but wonder what might have been.

Struggling to decide where her next step should take her, she learns the story of a Revolutionary War-era ancestor that echoes her own choices. Will Jessica leave her family and community forever, or is there peace and healing and love yet to come?

Fans of Beverly Lewis, long time writer of Amish stories who was born in the heart of Lancaster County, should enjoy what Gould offers as it has a very similar feel.

I was easily able to blow through this in a couple of hours thanks to the easy pace and intriguing characters. Being very familiar with the practice of shunning thanks to the plethora of Lewis’ works it was easy to follow along with this story which is centered on a woman who is being shunned for leaving her family a few years ago but has returned due to the death of a parent.

Unlike though in Lewis’ works when it came to someone being shunned, Gould has allowed her characters A LOT more interaction to the point you kind of need her many reminders that Jessica is supposed to be shunned. Lewis has always made it abundantly clear who was being shunned, by characters having no communication whatsoever, whereas Gould just has her character eat at a different table, be on the receiving end of tons of anger and some extreme un-Christian like behavior on the part of her siblings. That took some getting used to because Lewis has me trained to believe certain things about the Amish faith. I know the practice of shunning was supposed to be a huge plot point but it didn’t really feel like there was much shunning going on.

The issue of fracking is a central point as well and it’s very obvious what the author thinks about that divisive issue.

Overall if you’re a Lewis fan, the differences aside, I think you’d like this. It’s supposed to be the first in a new series which I’m assuming from the series title means the following books will follow the lives of Jessica’s 2 living sisters. It should be interesting to see how the author will handle those as they couldn’t be more different. One is more modern with an easygoing personality so it’s easy to like her and the other has a stick so far up her rear I’d be surprised she could sit in the pew for church service and she is completely NOT likeable.

Thank you to Netgalley and Bethany House for allowing me to review this!

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