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Daring to Hope: Cynthia Keller’s “An Amish Christmas”

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Title: An Amish Christmas: A Novel

Author: Cynthia Keller

Publisher: Ballantine Books, an imprint of The Random House Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc., New York.

Copyright: October 2010

ISBN: 978-0-345-52380-8

Format: E-Book, Pages 256, $9.99 [Kindle], $20.95 [Audible], $9.99 [Nook], $9.99 [Google Play], $9.99 [iBooks]

Summary:

Meg Hobart has everything: a happy marriage to a handsome, successful husband, a beautiful home in Charlotte, North Carolina, and three wonderful children. But it all comes crashing down around her the day she learns that her husband, James, has been living a lie—and has brought the family to financial ruin. Penniless and homeless, the Hobarts pack up what little they still possess and leave behind their golden life for good. But it’s not the material things Meg finds herself mourning. Instead, she misses the certainty that she should remain married to James, who has betrayed her trust so thoughtlessly. Worse, she is suddenly very aware of just how spoiled her children have become. Meg wonders what her family has really sacrificed in their pursuit of the American dream.

A frightening twist of fate forces the Hobarts to take refuge with a kind Amish family in Pennsylvania, where they find themselves in a home with no computers, no cell phones, nothing the children consider fashionable or fun. Her uncooperative brood confined to the Amish world of hard work and tradition, their futures entirely uncertain, Meg fears she can never make her family whole again.

Celebrating life’s simplest but most essential values, packed with laughter and tears, this is a story of forgiveness and the power of love. You will never forget the special moment in time that is An Amish Christmas.

Review:

The motherly and domestically minded Meg Hobart has it all: the big house, the BMW, a strapping but handsome husband with a high-powered job, three beautiful children, and time to dedicate to whatever pleases her. While her husband James is the breadwinner, Meg is the homemaker who keeps both the home and the family’s schedule running on a consistent basis. Meg has three children who she dotes on constantly, pandering to their every need. While she has three children, Lizzie and Will, the two eldest are exceedingly spoiled and selfish. Her youngest son, Sam is the only one in the family treating her with great affection and respect.

The story opens in October on Halloween night as Meg busies herself with baking and pondering over the fact none of her children seem interested in the holiday. On that very same night, James comes home in what seems to be some sort of melancholy frenzy. As time passes, she observes him and notices immediately how he is acting strangely but can’t quite put her finger on it. Her husband, who used to be so loving and attentive has become abrasive and unapproachable. Despite the change, she goes through her everyday minutiae with her children: cooking dinner, cleaning, and maintaining her family’s schedule. It seems like everything is ordinary except for her husband.

When Thanksgiving day rolls around, James finally comes out with it. He frantically explains to Meg that they are ruined financially. Back in August he lost his job and ever since then, he has been going along with the charade of hastening off to work everyday. What he would really be doing was go hang out at Starbucks, go for long walks, and lazing about. To make matters worse, James states that there is more to his infractions than he has revealed thus far. He goes into detail about how he entered into some sort of business venture only to discover that the person he was dealing with was a crook who stole all of their money.

Poor Meg is awestruck by this bit of information. She explains to him that she isn’t sure that she will be able to trust him ever again and states that she believes that their marriage may very well be over. James waves away her remarks and doesn’t take it too seriously. The next day, the Meg and James inform their children about the gravity of the situation and that they need to move. All of the children exhibit some sort of outrage and it is Lizzie and Will who act ridiculously. Sam seems to take things in stride but it is clear that he has anxiety over the issue.

Lancaster_County_Amish_03In following days, the Hobarts arrange to live with Meg’s parents, pack up James’s 1969 Mustang with what it can hold, and leave their large house in Charlotte. While on the way up to Meg’s parents’ house, they travel through Pennsylvania and glimpse the Amish. It is her fervent hope that her technology-obsessed children will broaden their horizons. As they are traveling on a cold night, James’s 1969 Mustang almost hits a black buggy but manages to veer off the road just in time to save the driver’s life. The family soon meets a cheerful Amish man by the name of David Lutz who introduces himself and immediately offers to help them. It is clear that some of the Hobarts have sustained damage in the accident.

The Hobart family is then rushed into the Lutz household where they are met by a warm and kindhearted Catherine, wife of David who takes care of them. They are offered assistance with any wounds they may have and a doctor is called immediately to come help them. They are provided with a meal of beef stew and bread and butter. From the beginning, Lizzie and Will seem to poke fun at their kindly saviors who treat them only with the utmost kindness. Meg observes this with distaste. Shortly thereafter, it is revealed that James’s Mustang is in desperate need of repair and that it has to go to the mechanic.

Given that James’s Mustang is temporarily out of commission and that it is in the shop for repairs, the Lutz family kindly invites the Hobarts to stay with them for as long as it takes. Meg and James at first don’t want to importune the family but they make it clear that it is no inconvenience at all. At first, Meg and her family feel awkward living with the Amish family. Her children, Lizzie and Will continue to make barbs against the Lutz family, referring to them as odd and outdated. However, as the time passes, the Hobarts happen to grow closer to the Lutzes.

All in all, An Amish Christmas was a very heartwarming tale. It is about the coming together of a family, the redemption of a marriage, and the bonds that transcend different cultures. It was the absolute perfect Christmas tale with believable characters who all have their flaws. The reason why I gave it 4.5 stars is because while the story was heartwarming and interesting, it completely lacked a plot point. Some conflict would have made it rather more interesting.

Rating: 2

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