Rachel Brand's Reviews > An Amish Christmas

An Amish Christmas by Cynthia Keller
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's review
Apr 06, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: amish, christmas, 2011, amish-group-reads, almost-favourites, ballantine


PROS: Reminder of what is truly important in life; situation is sure to be relevant to many readers who are struggling in today’s economy

CONS: Amish seem a bit too perfect

An Amish Christmas focuses on Meg Hobart’s family, who would appear to have the perfect life to any outsider. But Meg wishes that her husband would spend less time at work and more time with their family, and that her children would show more appreciation for all the work she puts into making their home a happy and comfortable place. Her life is full of endless to-do lists and keeping up with the latest gadgets that her kids simply must have in order to make their lives complete. But all of this is ripped away from her when her husband reveals that he has lost his job and made a bad investment with their life savings. The Hobarts are forced to sell their home and most of their belongings, and make the hard to decision to move in with Meg’s parents and help them run their shop. Meg’s parents never approved of her lifestyle, and she knows the transition won’t be easy. But matters are made worse when their car crashes en-route to her parents’ home, nearly missing an Amish buggy. The owner of the buggy, Daniel Lutz, is relieved that neither party is hurt, and insists on letting the Hobart family share his family home until their car can be repaired. Meg doesn’t think her family can ever cope without electricity and settle into a simpler life, even for the week or two that it takes repairs to be made on their car. But as they get to know the Lutz family, Meg and her family find an appreciation for the slow-paced life that the Amish live, and realise that in attempting to keep up with the pace of the outside world, they’ve forgotten about so many of the things that truly matter in life. Is this the push they need to get back on their feet and recover from their financial losses?

This was actually my second reading of An Amish Christmas, having discussed it with my online book group last December. I think I appreciated this book more on my second reading, as a married woman who is attempting to balance studying, working and housekeeping. I could relate to Meg’s desire to tackle everything on her to-do list and provide the perfect home for her family, while worrying about the instability of the current financial climate. What I loved about this book is that, although Meg came to respect her new Amish friends and learnt many lessons from them, she never wanted to become Amish. There are so many things I appreciate about the Amish – their tight-knit community where everyone helps each other in times of trouble, their humility, the way they raise their children to take on responsibility at a young age – but I know I could never become Amish. My job requires me to have access to the internet, I enjoy wearing clothes that make me stand out from my peers, and I have an egalitarian marriage. As much as I’ve enjoyed reading novels in which Englishers have converted to the Amish faith, it’s refreshing to read a book in which a family learns some valuable lessons from the Amish which they can apply to their own lives without having to give up electricity or start wearing kapps. I will admit that the Amish characters in this novella felt a bit too perfect at times, including the older brother who had been away on his rumspringe, but thankfully the flaws in the Hobart family balanced out the characterisation.

I think this is a book that will strike a chord with many readers, considering how many people are struggling in the current financial climate. In the midst of lay-offs and inflation, the Amish still manage to keep family, community and faith at the heart of their lives. Although the change in the attitudes of the Hobarts – particularly their younger children, who are rather brattish at the start of the novella – might seem a bit unrealistic, they had been through a massive upheaval, and I was encouraged by how they were able to stabilize their lives again, with the help of the Lutz family. The life that the Hobarts decide to live at the end of An Amish Christmas is very different from the one they’d had before James Hobart lost his job, but they were invigorated by the newfound trust and values they’d received during their visit with the Amish. I hope readers are similarly encouraged by this novella.

Review title provided by Ballantine Books.
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Reading Progress

April 6, 2011 – Shelved
December 3, 2011 – Shelved as: amish
December 3, 2011 – Shelved as: christmas
December 9, 2011 – Started Reading
December 10, 2011 –
page 65
December 10, 2011 –
page 119
49.79% "Really enjoying this book so far, much more than I expected!"
December 10, 2011 –
page 172
December 11, 2011 –
page 205
December 12, 2011 – Shelved as: 2011
December 12, 2011 – Shelved as: amish-group-reads
December 12, 2011 – Finished Reading
March 22, 2012 – Shelved as: almost-favourites
December 12, 2012 – Shelved as: ballantine

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