Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Simply Sara by Hillary Manton Lodge



I've admitted to this more than once, but I am not a big fan of Amish fiction. And I acknowledge we have many, many talented writers in this genre...it's just not my cup of tea. BUT, have I told you how much I ADORE Hillary Manton Lodge's books??

It all began when I stumbled across "Plain Jayne". Hillary had a way of combining modern life with the simple living that was so appealing. No statement of which was better...just an honest and rich look at both side by side.

So I was thrilled when I bought my copy of "Simply Sara". Then, life got busy and the book remained on my shelf. Over the holidays I picked up Sara's story and I'm so glad I did!

Sara's tale begins when she runs away from her plain and simple life as an Amish girl to live with her older brother, Levi and his fiance, Jayne. Hiding in a car trunk is no way to begin a life, but that's how she left...only to find herself in a world so foreign and so...different, she wondered at times if she should just return to her old home.

Her love of fashion and color drives her. She longs to create designs using all of the colors God gave us, and her goal of enrolling in a school that can help her fulfill her dream is within reach.

Soon Sara has gained employment at a book store, managed by William Blythe, a young man who seems to see her as an oddity...and an annoyance. But Sara loves her work, and it's money for English clothing, makeup, gifts at Christmas, and to make her own way in this new world she's living in.

Along with modern living comes pressure: to fit in, to conform, to adapt, and to manage stress. Life lived plain is so simple compared to Sara's new life. When the pressure mounts, can she make her way, or must she return home? Torn between two worlds, what will Sara choose?

I love SO MUCH about these stories! The rich detail, the passion in the characters, and the friendship. Oh, the FRIENDSHIPS! I wanted to be there for movie nights, to hang out with Joely, Gemma, Jayne, Levi...the whole gang. The deep and rich friendships Sara finds in her new life are sustaining and encouraging.

Something we all need, no matter where we're living or what we're trying to accomplish. Community. That's the word I'm looking for. These aren't just stories...they are community experiences of the best kind.

Not perfect. These characters squabble, fuss, and misunderstand one another. They get in one another's way, and don't always say what they mean...but they do tend to mean what they say.

I just love the whole community/friendship/living experience I gain from reading one of Hillary's novels. I'm hoping she keeps writing...I need a visit back with the gang!

So I'm giving "Simply Sara" five out of five bookmarks, with a spool of colorful thread as a charm. And, even though it's classified as general contemporary fiction, I'm still voting it "Best Amish Fiction of 2011"....even though it was published in 2010...I'm a little slow, but I get where I'm going.

And believe me, there's nothing 'simple' about Sara, or about Hillary's novels! Enjoy "Simple Sara", and pick up a copy of "Plain Jayne" while you're at it, available from Harvest House Publishers!

Happy Reading!

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1 comment:

Author Jennifer Hudson Taylor said...

The first Amish book I read a few years ago I didn't like either. Since then I've read two on my new Kindle and I really enjoyed them. Thanks for sharing.