So what do you do when you have three books due, one to edit, a filthy house, and a year’s planning to consider when you remember that you are supposed to review a book. By tomorrow. What?
You spend the evening reading a book, of course.
It’s kind of natural to have one eye on the clock or to be a bit antsy as you rush through each word, hoping to get the gist of the story down enough to do justice to the review. Really.
It’s only natural.
Except that Suzanne Woods Fisher’s The Return won’t let you do it.
Can you call a book a jerk? Who cares. I had stuff to do. I needed to speed read. It wouldn’t let me. Jerk.
Note: this post contains affiliate links that provide me with a small commission at no extra expense to you. Additionally, I requested a review copy of this book through the Celebrate Lit program–no strings attached. I chose to share my .02 with you.
So what is my biased review?
This is one stinkin’ awesome book. I knew it would be, and I’ve gotta tell you why I say that.
One thing I just love about Suzanne Fisher is that she creates non-stereotypical characters. Amish men bent on driving out the “savages”? Yes. She went there. How about a dad who lets his boys run wild? Maybe a Mennonite attending Amish services? WHAT?
And in portraying the natives, she did something that is too often unbalanced. She shows us that there are ugly, bitter people in all societies. Yes, natives butchered and scalped “white folks.” White folks massacred natives. And the ugliness happened among the natives long before settlers arrived… and brought the ugliness they hoped to leave behind with them in their hearts.
Fisher shows this and shows it well.
As for specific characters, I loved that I was annoyed with Tessa… and knew she’d become my favorite… girl. Betsy… I really thought I’d learn to dislike her rather than be ambivalent. I didn’t. However, I was a bit irked by the sudden revelation at the end of who she envied and why. It was a bit predictable, cliched, and… much. Perhaps toned down a bit. I don’t know. It’s probably just me.
But of all the characters Clumsy Marty was my favorite. Yes, I love Barin’s occasional lapses into his brogue, and I REALLY didn’t appreciate the denigration of my beloved bagpipes, but aside from little quirks and delights, I really feel like this was Tessa’s tale.
Set in Pennsylvania during the years before the War for Independence, we’re treated to more than the rolling hills of Lancaster County of modern expectations. Fisher takes us up the Monongahela, the Allegheny, into the villages of peaceable tribes. We’re introduced to the “inventor” of the Conestoga wagon and the enormous project such a design would have been.
Best of all, I think only once did a turn of phrase make me pause and wonder if they’d have said that then. Once. And the story distracted me so quickly that frankly, I don’t remember what it was. I looked for things that might be anachronistic. Didn’t find any. I even looked up things I was sure would be correct just in case I was wrong. Fisher has done her research well. I thank her. It’s so easy not to know TO look up something. So, well done. Very well done.
The one thing that stood out to me is that this is supposed to be “historical romance.” But Suzanne Fisher didn’t just write boy meets girl, falls in love, fights, makes up, marries. She wrote about the deep, rich, pain and joy-filled lives of “real” people and then introduced natural elements of those lives. Birth, death, family, tragedy, pride, grief, and love. The romance in this book is a natural response to a life well-lived. It’s the kind of romance I enjoy.
Okay, I had to mark a couple while I was reading. I had to pull half of them out because I can’t load this up with them, but these really stood out to me:
How true is that? I just LOVED it. Then there was this one:
‘You remind me of Catrina’s third husband.’
‘Third husband? How many has she had?’
She narrowed her beady eyes at him. ‘Two.'”
And finally, this gem. Oh, man this is one amazing gem right here:
If you enjoy historical fiction, you’ll likely love this well-researched book.Amish fiction enthusiast? You’ll appreciate your favorite genre over two hundred fifty years ago. If you love rich characters and engaging story lines regardless of the genre, this book is for you.
And even better, if you haven’t read the others–it doesn’t matter. While the previous books will make reading this a richer experience, you do NOT need to.
One of the easiest five-stars I’ve ever given. I hope we get more.
And yeah, thanks a lot, Ms. Fisher. First, you drag me away from work to read your awesome book, and then you make me not want to go back to work. Well played… very well played. And I’ll get bck to my overdue books now. Ahem. All your fault. Just sayin’.
The Return is on tour with Celebrate Lit:
About The Return
Book title: The Return
Author: Suzanne Woods Fisher
Release date: Sept 1, 2017
In a wild country, the true cost of love may be more than they can bear
Beautiful and winsome, Betsy Zook never questioned her family’s rigid expectations, nor those of devoted Hans—but then she never had to. Not until the night she’s taken captive in a surprise Indian raid. Facing brutality and hardship, Betsy finds herself torn between her pious upbringing and the feelings she’s developing for a native man who encourages her to see God in all circumstances.
Greatly anguished by Betsy’s captivity, Hans turns to Tessa Bauer for comfort. She responds eagerly, overlooking troubling signs of Hans’s hunger for revenge. But if Betsy is ever restored to the Amish, will things between Hans and Tessa have gone too far?
Inspired by true events, this deeply layered novel gives a glimpse into the tumultuous days of pre-revolutionary Pennsylvania through the eyes of two young, determined, and faith-filled women.
About the Author
Suzanne Woods Fisher is an award-winning, bestselling author of more than two dozen novels, including Anna’s Crossing and The Newcomer in the Amish Beginnings series,The Bishop’s Family series, and The Inn at Eagle Hill series, as well as nonfiction books about the Amish, including Amish Peace and The Heart of the Amish.
She lives in California. Learn more at www.suzannewoodsfisher.com and follow Suzanne on Twitter @suzannewfisher.
Guest Post from Suzanne Woods Fisher
The Three Sisters’ Garden: Corn, Squash & Beans!
Corn was a new food to the immigrants to the New World, introduced to them by Native Americans. Soon, it became an essential part of their daily diet, in one form or another. Growing it brought yet another new discovery: companion planting in the form of the Three Sisters’ Garden.
According to Iroquois legend, corn, squash, and beans were three inseparable sisters who only grew and thrived together. 18th century Native Americans wouldn’t have understood the science behind why companion planting worked, but they knew it did. Beans, like all legumes, have bacteria living on their roots that help them absorb nitrogen from the air and convert it to a form that plants can use.
Corn, which requires a lot of nitrogen to grow, benefits from the legumes and provides a pole support for the beans to climb.
Low growing squash leaves shade the soil and prevents weed growth. Their sharp and prickly leaves deter pests. This tradition, of planting corn, beans, and squash in the same mounds, became a sustainable system to provide long-term soil fertility among Native American tribes that farmed.
The wisdom of planting Three Sisters’ Garden was adopted by the immigrants, including our own Betsy Zook from The Return. Betsy learned of the technique while a captive among a tribe of Indians and later, after she had been returned to the Amish, shared her knowledge with Anna and Bairn.
Have you ever considered growing a Three Sisters’ garden?
All you need is the right kind of seeds, a mound of dirt in a sunny spot, and to not forget to water. Mother Nature will do the rest.
*Images courtesy of Dream Home Improvement and Technology Exchange Lab
Quiet Quilter: August 1:
A Baker’s Perspective: August 1
Remembrancy: August 1
Bigreadersite: August 2
Lighthouse Academy: August 2
Zerina Blossom’s Books: August 2
August 3: Genesis 5020: August 3
Book by Book: August 3
Blogging With Carol: August 3
Seasons of Opportunities: August 4
Chas Ray’s Book Nerd Corner: August 4
Carpe Diem: August 4
DEE’S QUILTS & BOOKS: August 5
Jeanette’s Thoughts: August 5
Artistic Nobody: August 6
Just the Write Escape: August 6
Locks, Hooks, and Books: August 6
A Reader’s Brain: August 7
Pause for Tales: August 7
Splashes of Joy: August 7
Bibliophile Reviews: August 8
Christian Bookaholic: August 8
Live.Love.Read: August 8
Blossoms and Blessings: August 9
Mary Hake: August 9
Simple Harvest Reads (Spotlight): August 9
For the Love of Books: August 10
The Fizzy Pop Collection: August 10
A Simply Enchanted Life: August 10
The Power of Words: August 11
Karen Sue Hadley: August 11
Neverending Stories: August 11
Cafinated Reads: August 12
TinaTruelove: August 12
Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations: August 12
God’s Little Bookworm: August 13
Southern Gal Loves to Read: August 13
Connie’s History Classroom: August 13
Vicky Sluiter: August 14
By The Book: August 14
To celebrate her tour, Suzanne is doing an amazing giveaway from August 1 through 14! Check it out:
Four winners will receive one of the prizes below:
An Amish Gift Basket and a copy of The Return
Amish popcorn sampler and a copy of The Return
The Amish Beginning 3 book set series
One grand prize winner will receive:
An iPad Mini