Summer of Secrets
By Charlotte Hubbard
Genre: Inspirational Romance
Published February 2012, Zebra Books
Paperback, 352 pages
In the bestselling tradition of Beverly Lewis and Jan Karon, Hubbard presents a beautifully drawn new series, which follows the charming residents of Willow Ridge and the conflicts involving the old Amish ways in a modern world, and the temptations of leaving this plain heritage behind.I know very little about the Amish lifestyle, though there is a similar community near where I live. This book was a good introduction to their beliefs and practices without the details getting in the way of the plot. Tidbits of the Dutch language are also interspersed throughout the dialogue to make it more realistic. Food plays a prominent role in the plot, with several of the main characters running a restaurant together called "Sweet Seasons." Many of the recipes featured in the back of the book were served up in the restaurant, and many descriptions of the food sparked my appetite, such as the cinnamon rolls and orange knots. So many of the Amish ways focus on Plain living, such as an old-fashioned washing machine and garden-grown fruits and vegetables. While some aspects could be considered inconvenient, such as no telephones except for businesses, other practices make for a healthier lifestyle. "Modern" society could certainly learn a few things from the Amish.
The characters were easily relate-able, even with such polar opposites as Rachel - high-maintenance and emotional - and her long-lost sister, Tiffany/ Rebecca - withdrawn and goth. I also rather liked Micah, Rachel's fiance, for his desires to help others and be responsible while also being honest with himself. Rebecca is the perfect dichotomy to the Amish faith, as she questions everything and behaves and dresses nothing like the Plain people, though she was born in the community. Miriam, the triplet's widowed mother, is also a subtle example of how even the women can gain independence and self-sufficiency by operating her own restaurant with the aid of her daughters.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, especially for its conservative approach to romance and drama, and I know that I will be delving into more Amish literature.
The Cover: I like the simple beauty of the cover, though I'm not really sure exactly who the young woman is supposed to represent in the story.
First Line: "And what shall I bring for your dinner, Micah?"
This opening line is a good introduction to the central part that food plays in the book.
*I received this book free of charge from the publisher for review purposes.*