Beth Hertzler works alongside her beloved Aunt Lizzy in their dry goods store, and serving as contact of sorts between Amish craftsmen and Englischers who want to sell the Plain people’s wares. But remorse and loneliness still echo in her heart everyday as she still wears the dark garb, indicating mourning of her fiancé. When she discovers a large, intricately carved scene of Amish children playing in the snow, something deep inside Beth’s soul responds and she wants to help the unknown artist find homes for his work–including Lizzy’s dry goods store. But she doesn’t know if her bishop will approve of the gorgeous carving or deem it idolatry.
Lizzy sees the changes in her niece when Beth shows her the woodworking, and after Lizzy hunts down Jonah, the artist, she is all the more determined that Beth meets this man with the hands that create healing art. But it’s not that simple–will Lizzy’s elaborate plan to reintroduce her niece to love work? Will Jonah be able to offer Beth the sleigh ride she’s always dreamed of and a second chance at real love–or just more heartbreak?
To be honest, I was a bit hesitant when picking up this book. I've read one of the author's books in the past, and had a bit of trouble reading the subject matter in the book. It was enough for me not to be able to read the other two books in the series. Therefore I was worried that this book would be like that. Luckily, as far as I could tell, there's no connection and the storyline was one that rather enjoyable. I liked reading about Beth, Lizzy and Jonah. All three of them had very interesting story lines and I liked seeing the connections between the three. I thought it was interesting how the Amish portrayed in this story were allowed to be a bit more modern and freely use phones and other electronics. This is mainly due to the business but it's always fascinating to read.
The problem with novellas is that because they are short, sometimes the story feels a bit rushed. The author has the hard task of making the entire story come across plus give the characters enough time to grow and develop in a shorter amount of words. In this case, it works well for the most part. I personally would have enjoyed seeing the confusion of identity between Beth and Jonah last longer. It would have been more interesting for them to think they were writing to who they were picturing instead of the actual person. As it was, the illusion ended too quickly. I'm still not ok with the way that the Amish seem to handle heavy subjects. Beth's fiance sounds like he had serious controlling and abusive issues but she never tells anyone this because it would look bad on them. This type of behavior makes me very wary of the community portrayed in Woodsmall's books. This book seems to be marketed as a Christmas story but I'm not really seeing it. Aside from a few references to the holiday in the book, it's almost not even an issue. I would classify it as more a winter time story. Overall, it's a nice short read perfect for a fall or winter afternoon. If you are a fan of Amish fiction you will enjoy this story.
The Sound of Sleigh Bells by Cindy Woodsmall is published by Waterbrook (2009)
This review copy was provided by the publisher.