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What could bring an Amish widow and a wealthy circus owner together? Though Hannah Goodloe knew she'd violated countless unwritten laws, she had to visit the only man who could help find her runaway son. But when the enigmatic Levi Harmon agreed to take her on his train, the results were utterly unpredictable.

Levi never expected to find the embodiment of all he wanted in a woman in the soft-spoken, plainly dressed Hannah. And for Hannah, to love an outsider was to be shunned. The simple pleasures of family, faith and place to belong seemed an impossible dream. Unless Levi unlocked his past and opened his heart to God's plan.

288 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published January 1, 2011

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About the author

Anna Schmidt

70 books209 followers
Anna Schmidt's historical novel, THE WINTERKEEPER, received a Five Star rating from Reader's Favorites. Reviews for the story have been strong including one from the Historical Novel Society that raved: "The storytelling and scene building are masterful and create an immediacy that keeps the reader turning pages. This is a writer who feels words as well as thinking them." Anna is a three-time finalist for the coveted RITA award presented annually by Romance Writers of America. In addition she has been a four-time finalist for the Reviewer’s Choice Award from Romantic Times magazine—an award she has won twice. Her latest novel RENEGADE is the second in her new series: Cowboys and Harvey Girls and is available now. Publisher's Weekly hails the series as: "Easygoing western romance readers will cheer for this good-hearted heroine to achieve all her dreams." Anna splits her time between Wisconsin and Florida, noting that, “I am blessed to have a career that travels well!”

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5 stars
102 (45%)
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76 (33%)
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37 (16%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 30 reviews
Profile Image for Rachel Brand.
1,043 reviews95 followers
January 21, 2012

I was initially rather sceptical of the premise of a story based around an Amish woman and a circus owner but this book turned out to be very compelling and enlightening with regards to life in 1920s Florida. The circus details were fascinating, particularly to someone whose only knowledge of circuses comes from Enid Blyton books, as was the information about the new Amish settlements that formed in Sarasota in this period.

All the members of Hannah's family were very engaging and I can't wait to read Pleasant's story and see her get her happy ending. There were a few details that made Hannah's community different from those I've read about in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Kentucky, although this may also be because some small changes have been made to the Amish way of life since 1920.

One thing that made this novel stand out from other historical or Amish romances was that the story didn't end with Hannah and Levi deciding to get married, but followed them past their wedding day to several months afterwards. I won't give anything away, but I will say that Hannah and Levi have some personal issues to overcome regarding concerns over infertility and starting a new family in a second marriage. Initially I was unsure as to whether I enjoyed reading a romance that continued after the couple have been happily married, but Hannah and Levi's struggles were genuine and I really felt for them as they tried to overcome them together. I had a big smile on my face when I finished this book!

I've read one of Anna Schmidt's Love Inspired Historical novels before, Seaside Cinderella (Love Inspired Historical), and I think I prefer this one because the characters seemed more fleshed out and all had very distinct personalities, even secondary characters such as Lily and Gunther. Her writing has definitely developed with time and I'll be looking out for more of her books in the future.
62 reviews
March 23, 2018
I really loved this story, Hannah goes to Levi a circus owner to help her find her son. She believes that he was on the train because he was fascinated with the animals...
So he tells he while help her but she has to come so if he is there she can get her son.
She has to get permission from the Bishop and her father in law and sister in law travel with them.
He has to make a lot of accomodations for them because they are plain people and are not use to extravegance. Along the way, they find out his son got off and so he had some one pick him up and take him to some friends in Wisconsin. They were traveling from Florida. Levi left being Amish at fourteen so he understood why the boy would run away but also his grandparents and family could had felt. Hannah and her family help with chores on the way, and of Hannah and Levi develop feelings for each other (forbidden). She finds out that the home where her son is at is his brothers farm. Levi tells the story to her son why he ran away. Anyway of love wins out, they return to Florida, He gives everything to his partner sells his homes and gives the money away except to purchase a house where Hannah lives. He had already been taking classes for baptism and needed to be accepted in their community before he could marry. They do and have their happy ever after.
Profile Image for Michele Benchouk.
340 reviews10 followers
January 20, 2018
For some reason, I just couldn't get caught up in this book. I really enjoyed the others in this series, and this one had some interesting twists, but I couldn't sustain my interest and it took me forever to read. The characters are compelling and open, but it bothered me that it kept referring to Hannah's "former husband" instead of using his name. I can't imagine that the Amish fail to use a lost loved one's name after death, even when they are considering moving on in a new relationship.
Profile Image for Sandra.
1,200 reviews17 followers
September 22, 2017
I often read books with an Amish Story line. After reading the back jacket of this book, I wasn't sure what to expect. It is not your average Amish Story. I was pleasantly surprised. I did enjoy reading Hannah's Journey and will be reading more by this author. I liked the way she writes and found her description of the characters and locations very interesting.
Profile Image for Kim.
450 reviews1 follower
April 2, 2021
So, like another commenter, I thought, circus owner + Amish widow?? I sort of read it to see how that was going to work. Loved this book and will go on with the series.
199 reviews
January 26, 2012
Hannah's Journey by Anna Schmidt

We selected this book as our January 2012 group read.

What a unique combination of topics in this book! Hannah's Journey is historical Amish fiction (and if you know me, you know this is one of my favorite blends). But beyond that, this particular book also has much of the plot involving life in a traveling circus!

Who would have though, the Amish and traveling circuses. A very unique blend that is almost counter-intuitive. The book starts with Hannah Goodloe, a young, widowed Amish mother whose very young son has run away, most likely to join the circus. As any good mother would be, Hannah is nervous, worried, and desperate to get her son back. But this isn't a time when a simple phone call could resolve determining his whereabouts.

Hannah puts on a brave face and goes to speak with the owner of the circus in order to attempt to secure his help in finding her son and bringing him home. Her main request is that she be able to go along with him to find her son, she is not comfortable with him being alone longer than absolutely necessary.

Reluctantly, Levi Harmon, the circus' owner, agrees. But Hannah has another hurdle to overcome: will the bishop allow her to journey with these people who are so different than those that the Amish typically associate with? Reluctantly the bishop does grant permission, but only on the condition that her sister-in-law and father-in-law travel with her--after all, a young woman should not travel alone like that amongst such people.

So Hannah and her family pack up to board the train on a trip that should take one day to the next stop to bring her son home. Yet, when they arrive, it turns out he has moved further ahead on another train, and now there is but one choice, Hannah wants to continue traveling with the circus for the next week in order to retriever her son herself.

Can she keep her faith while spending time among those so different than her? Will she find her son, safe and sound? And will she be able to convince him to return home with her? And what is the secret Levi Harmon is hiding, and why is it that there is such a strong connection between them?

Read Hannah's Journey to find out!

From the title alone, "Hannah's Journey," honestly sounds like your typical Amish fiction book. Young Amish woman either in love or without love who needs a happy ending, right?

But this book is so different! Not that all other Amish fiction can be likened to "stale air," I would call Hannah's Journey a breath of fresh air. I was intrigued from the description and even more intrigued as I began reading the book.

I loved the blend of Amish fiction with historical fiction and the added twist of juxtaposing circus life with the typical, usually idyllic, life on an Amish farm.

It is fascinating to see how the Amish character seek to keep their beliefs, even while in a situation so entirely foreign to them.

I also think the author does a great job drawing you in, and remember to address little details. While I was able to predict a more major twist fairly early on, it did not make the book any less enjoyable to read.

I will be reading book number two!

4 out of 5 stars!
Profile Image for Laura.
Author 40 books630 followers
November 25, 2011
Author: Anna Schmidt
Publisher: Love Inspired Historical
May 2011
ISBN: 978-0-373-82868-5
Genre: Inspirational/historical/romance/Amish

Hannah Goodloe is an Amish woman, desperate to find her eleven-year-old son, Caleb. Caleb had visited a circus the day before and that night had vanished. Hannah believes he ran away to join the circus, so she gathered her courage and went to visit the owner of the circus, Levi Harmon, to request that he return her son.

Levi is a bit confused by the Amish woman’s request and questions her as to why she believes that Caleb would have joined his circus. He can’t be bothered to find the boy himself, and knows his managers would locate him and return him if he has indeed stowed away on the train, but he tells Hannah that she must go on the trip with him and see to her son herself. To his surprise, Hannah, her father-in-law, and her sister-in-law, show up at the train station at the designated time.

Will Hannah find her son on that train? Will Levi unlock the doors to his past and open his heart?

HANNAH’S JOURNEY is a different type Amish story, in that it’s historical. Hannah is taken out of her world and thrown into one that is vastly more opulent than what she was accustomed to. But this unassuming woman quickly became assuming, making demands on Levi that things should be downgraded to her standards. Levi catered to every complaint she made, though she covered them all saying they were for her father-in-law and or sister-in-law’s comfort.

I can’t really say I enjoyed this book. The conversation was stilted, I couldn’t relate to the characters, and I found some of the things unbelievable. This is the first of several books in her Celery Fields Series, set in Sarasota, Florida. Or, in this case, a circus train traveling cross-country from Florida to Wisconsin. Discussion questions are included at the end of the book. $5.50. 278 pages.

Profile Image for Fredell.
266 reviews1 follower
November 19, 2016
An unusual tale of an Amish widow, her rebellious son and the circus owner that unites the two. "What could bring an Amish widow and a wealthy circus owner together? Though Hannah Goodloe knew she'd violated countless unwritten laws, she had to visit the only man who could help find her runaway son. But when the enigmatic Levi Harmon agreed to take her on his train, the results were utterly unpredictable.
Levi never expected to find the embodiment of all he wanted in a woman in the soft-spoken, plainly dressed Hannah. And for Hannah, to love an outsider was to be shunned. The simple pleasures of family, faith and place to belong seemed an impossible dream. Unless Levi unlocked his past and opened his heart to God's plan." (book cover blurb).
It turns out that Levi, like Hannah's son, Caleb, had left the Amish faith to runaway to the circus.
He became wealthy and very successful at this unusual occupation, but something was missing. He felt lost and lonely. Hannah comes looking for her son who has disappeared from their farm. He was with the circus, but when his mother arrives he manages to stow away with one of the circus employees on her way to the circus's home location. He ends up living with an Amish family until Hannah and the reswt can reach the destination. He reconciles himself to the 'plain' way of life and enjoys the 'family' that he has stayed with. This family, the Harnishers, are actually Levi's family and things get interesting from then on out.
Levi sells the circus to his friend and partner, Jake, and returns to the Amish community. He had not been baptized, therefore, he had not been shunned. He was able to take his church vows and be baptized freeing him to marry Hannah and create the family that they all had envisioned prior to the death of Hannah's first husband.
Profile Image for Kate.
268 reviews9 followers
December 5, 2011
Levi Harmon, satisfied with his life and fortune, he has built for himself. He receives a visit from Hannah Goodloe, an Amish woman searching for her 11 yr old son Caleb who has run away and thought to be amongst the staff of his traveling circus. Levi makes her an offer to accompany him on his circus train to search for and bring back her son. When she approached the bishop about Levi's offer, the bishop requested two others of her family need to accompany her. Onboard, Levi comes up with a business arrangement to help Hannah continue her journey after her traveling partner insists she returns home to Florida to tend to her duties there.
What Hannah finds is what she never thought she has been missing. What Levi finds is not what he is seeking.

A quick read that the more I progressed into the book the more I enjoyed it. I do read Amish fiction from time to time and I recommend this one for a different kind of read. Even though they have smaller parts in the book, Fred the clown and Lily the performer captured my heart, they seemed so down to earth and easy to relate to. Plot, description, dialogue and scenery all came together well. I found the overall message inspiring and I was entertained!
Profile Image for Veronica.
393 reviews
June 23, 2012
I usually don't read books where Amish are the main characters but the premise intrigued me. I was a little dissapointed to find out that Levi was Amish but had left before he was baptized. I don't suppose any sort of romance would have been possible between the two otherwise but it was still dissapointed.
Nevertheless the chemistry between the two characters was good and I enjoyed the first two-thirds.
I wish the author had chosen to end the book after Levi proposed and decided to join the church and had a short epilogue. I did not enjoy the two chapters following this proposal and the long epilogue. It left little to the imagination and was rather sappy not to mention boring.
Also, I do not understand the storyline of Pleasant's courtship with Merle. He was not a very nice man and Pleasant just kind of accepted it because she was so old. I thought for sure that the author would introduce a new man for her. My only guess is that the author was giving a hint to her next book but it was written more as part of the storyline then a hint.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Diane U.
119 reviews14 followers
January 29, 2015
This story takes place in the mid-1920's in Florida. I have never read an Amish book whose community was from here. Hannah, along with her sister in law and father in law, take a train ride with the circus to find her son Caleb who ran away with the circus. It was discovered early that he was safe but the train had to make it's way to back to Wisconsin. The trip was interesting as they were in contact with circus performers but they stuck to their Plain ways.

Once they arrived in Wisconsin, Hannah and Levi developed feeling for each other. Hannah could not let those feeling grow since Levi was not Amish. As the book progressed, so did their relationship.

I have never read a historical Amish fiction book before, never mind one with the circus as well. I thought the book was just okay while they were traveling on the train. I enjoyed it more once the story shifted to Amish life. I was very pleased with how this story played out.
Profile Image for Kate.
1,499 reviews40 followers
February 3, 2012
I belong to a group of Amish fiction lovers here on GoodReads, and each month, two books are chosen for the group to read together. January’s ‘Amish’ choice was ‘Hannah’s Journey’ by Anna Schmidt. Most books in the ‘Amish fiction’ genre are set exclusively in the Amish community itself. This book was set primarily amongst a circus community in the late 1920s. Hannah’s son, Caleb, has run away with the circus that wealthy Levi Harmon owns, and Hannah turns to Levi for help in bringing her son home to their Amish community. Levi suggests that Hannah come with him to meet up with his circus train so that she can find Caleb and bring him home, and as Hannah makes her journey to find her son, she finds unexpected friendships along the way, including one that will change the life of her and her son forever. As mentioned earlier, this book is a departure from the norm in Amish fiction, but I enjoyed it and will be reading more of Anna Schmidt’s work.
Profile Image for Beks.
195 reviews1 follower
October 3, 2011
This was a plot line that required some serious emotional investment into the characters in order to enjoy the plot. Sadly the character who I liked the most was on of the sub-plot people who really didn't do anything throughout the story. The Amish plight put in here wasn't nearly as well done as in others I have read and well Hannah and Levi just weren't cutting it for me.

I did like the circus aspect, not something I have read about for a very long time...if ever...now that I think about it this was my first circus read though there are plenty out there I am sure. That part intrigued me and is what helped save the story from being too straight-forward of a love story. Overall, you can pass on this one, there is better Amish fiction out there if that is what you are looking for.
Profile Image for Angela Holland.
411 reviews46 followers
May 10, 2012
This was my first book by this author. I enjoyed this book but to me it was a little slow moving at times. The more I read though the more I wanted to find out what was going to happen next. I like how Hannah and her family blended in so well with the circus family on the journey to find her son. The author does a good job in showing how close knit and friendly the Amish truly are. Another thing I enjoyed was that this told the story of how the Amish came to Florida. I don’t want to give away anymore but just want to say I think you will be happy with the ending. I am glad that the author chose to give up so much at the ending. I am looking forward to the next book in the series to see if the next lady finds happiness. I give this book 3 stars.
1,381 reviews10 followers
April 6, 2011
In 1928 a young fatherless Amish boy from Florida runs away with the circus. His mother, Hannah, meets the owner of the circus, Levi, and pleads with him to help her find her son. This leads to a journey with her father-in-law and sister-in-law on a train to Wisconsin. Will she find love again and will Levi's past become a part of his present?
This is a quick read. It is interesting to learn about how a circus traveled in the 1920's. The best theme of the novel is how Amish traditions of family and faith comforts and challenges people to do the right thing.

278 pages
Profile Image for Paula-O.
558 reviews
Want to read
December 17, 2011
I liked this story a lot, Hannah an amish woman has a son run away to the circus and she goes to the man that owns the circus for help not knowing that he grew up amish and left that life as a child running away and bacame a circus owner in life, Has God brought these two together to help both, you will be surprised at the way this story ends. if you like to read about the amish you will like this one.
Profile Image for Spencer.
1,242 reviews17 followers
September 20, 2020
I'm going to preface with review by saying I am not Amish. I haven't ever really studied Amish culture. This book came to me in a box of various Love Inspired stories that were given to me by a friend.

This wasn't a terrible book for me but it was definitely one I'll only read the one time. The idea of an Amish woman and circus owner were very compelling to me but I didn't ever connect with either of the characters like I wanted to.
43 reviews
August 9, 2016
This book was a quick read but it wasn't as engaging as some other Amish books. The plot was different and so it was fresh in that way. I would have liked more emotional engagement between the characters and the reader. I didn't feel that I really got enough of that (although it wasn't missing altogether).
Profile Image for Lynda.
1,033 reviews19 followers
March 29, 2014
Book 1 of the Amish Brides of Celery Fields. Yea -- it's "a little far-fetched". An Amish mother travels with a circus train along with her father-in-law & sister-in-law hoping to find her son who has -- you guessed it -- run away to join the circus.

The plot drags a bit but not because of the plot premise.
The book has a happy ending and I happen to like happy endings.
718 reviews9 followers
May 17, 2012
This was a fun story. When I first read the back, I wasn't sure about the story. I was pleasantly surprised.
Profile Image for Cathy.
1,104 reviews56 followers
October 3, 2012
Another Anna Schmidt book I ADORED!! Her characterization is amazing and the storyline always has a gentle , down home feel I just love.
Profile Image for Alana.
10 reviews
August 27, 2014
I was hesitant to read this book based on the back cover summary. I ended up enjoying it.
Profile Image for Heather Bridson.
430 reviews7 followers
April 25, 2017
I loved the idea of amish and a circus train. It was a bit unexpected and just wonderful. The idea that a boy who was raised amish would take over a circus was a great one. And the way he is led back to the faith by an amish widow and her son is also wonderful! The characters are interesting and its a nice little book. Just a great read if you like amish stories.

I was not paid for my review in any way and all opinions are my own.
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