Friday, July 29, 2011

Book Review: "Love Finds You in Amana, Iowa" by Melanie Dobson

Summary from As the rest of the nation is embroiled in Civil War, the Amana Colonies remain peaceful. Amalie Wiese arrives in the newly built village of Amana in 1863 only to find that her betrothed, Friedrich, has left to fight with the Union army. Amalie tries to overcome her worries as she sets up a communal kitchen. She hopes that working alongside Friedrich's best friend will provide some comfort, but Matthias is abrupt and cold.

Little does Amalie know that Matthias has been in love with her since childhood but will not betray Friedrich by pursuing her friendship. When Matthias himself leaves for the battlefront to deliver supplies to the soldiers, war wages in Amalie's own heart. Will love claim victory?

Groups about religious sects (Amish, Mennonites, Mormons, Shakers) have been very popular lately. I'm not sure if it's because of the bonnets or if people are simply just curious about what is considered the "simple way of life" but I swear everywhere I look more and more of these types of books keep popping up with new groups.

This story focuses on the recent immigrant group of the Amana Colonies during the 1860s. The colony is being set up with new settlers joining frequently. The focus of the story belongs to a subtle love triangle between Amalie, her fiance Fredrich and his best friend Matthias. It is against their religion to fight, yet Fredrich feels his calling is to join the Union soldiers. Slavery is brought up many times including the use of characters reading Uncle Tom's Cabin. I did get a sense from the book that characters felt that everyone should be part of their group nor did they think that what others who didn't believe as they did were wrong. I was a bit iffy on the love story as it seemed different than normal as well as too quick during some bits.

Until I heard about this book, I had never heard about the Amana group before. While the cover makes the story look like it is Amish related, the Amana Colonies were a different type of religious sect. Unfortunately after reading this story, I'm not really sure exactly what they believed in. There's talk about wearing plain clothing so no one stands out and the whole deal that they don't believe in fighting. I mean there's bits and pieces mentioned throughout out but I still never really felt like I understood exactly what consisted of their entire way of thinking. Even though I found Amalie, Fredrich and Matthias's stories very interesting, I never really got a sense of what their faith really meant to them. Maybe I'm just clueless but a brief primer about the Amanas would probably help.

Overall I enjoyed how this story gave a different take on romance during the Civil War. The story went in a different direction than how I originally thought it was going to end. I'm not really sure if I was pleased with this but I still had a good time reading the book. As I stated above, I would like to learn more about the Amana sect and learn more about exactly what they believe in and then I'd like to read more about them in these types of books.

Love Finds You in Amana, Iowa by Melanie Dobson is published by Summerside Press (2011)

This review copy was provided for a tour with the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

1 comment:

  1. Added this to my wish list.
    Thanks for the review!


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