“The Christmas Quilt” by Vannetta Chapman

Annie’s life is deliciously full as the Christmas season approaches. She helps her husband, Samuel, attend to the community’s minor medical needs. She occasionally assists Belinda, the local midwife, and most days, she finds herself delivering the buggy to her brother Adam. Annie’s sister-in-law Leah is due to deliver their first child before Christmas morning, and Annie is determined to finish a crib quilt before the boppli arrives. With six weeks to go, she should have no problem . . . but God may have a different plan. Leah is rushed to the English hospital when the infant arrives early, and Annie discovers the Christmas quilt may hold a far greater significance than she ever imagined.

Do you ever get hung up on a detail?  I do.  I guess I’m persnickety like that, which is why it’s taken me so long to write this review.  I’ve written it dozens of times in my head and never felt that it’s quite right.

But, here goes.

I read the first book in this series and felt that both are very high quality.  They are written about an Old Order Amish community and many of those details are accurate.  The story is dramatic, the characters likeable, and the faith lessons deep.  Chapman is an excellent writer and that shines through every page of this book.

My problem?  It’s picky, I know, but … she set the book in Mifflin County, Pennsylvania, home of the most traditional white top community in the world.

It’s also where I grew up.

I grew up just a few miles from that community.  There were Amish kids in my elementary school.  We bought our strawberries from them every June so we could fill our freezer with jelly for the year.  We gave our chickens to Amish friends the summer after fifth grade when they outgrew us.  We shopped at the Belleville sale while I secretly eavesdropped, not to be rude but to practice my quite limited German skills.  My grandfather retired and became an Amish taxi driver and when he died, many Amish people came to his services.

The Amish culture of Mifflin County is distinctly different from that of Lancaster or Ohio.  Both of those are written about in many, many Amish fiction books, and the setting is clear throughout all of them.  There are inside bathrooms.  There are towns named Paradise and Intercourse.  People wear shoes and have mud sales.

In Mifflin County it’s different.  Old Order Amish aren’t required by law to have indoor plumbing.  Children run free with no shoes and no pastel dresses.  

Most Old Order Amish live in Belleville, or at least in Big Valley, which is a lengthy journey by buggy to Lewistown, the county seat.  It wouldn’t be a trip to be taken lightly.  It couldn’t happen in an afternoon unless by taxi driver, and certainly not by two very pregnant women.

There are general stores, two main ones in the Valley, and both are hugely popular tourist spots.  Everyone shops there, and you can get anything you’d like there.  They’re both great places.

So “The Christmas Quilt” frustrated me not because it was poorly written, because it wasn’t – but because these distinct details weren’t there.  Just like those details make a Lancaster County Amish book, adding in these details could have really made this book stand out.  Fleshing out the setting more would have made the story even more unique – because it really is, and it deserves the attention.  Those details spice up the story and give it a life-like quality that can’t be reproduced any other way.

I hope that Chapman writes another book in this series.  I enjoy the characters and would be interested to know what happens next in their saga – but please, highlight the setting.  Flesh out those details.  It will only add to the wonder of the story.

Read other reviews on this bloggy hop here, or purchase your own copy now.

Vannetta Chapman has published over one hundred articles in Christian family magazines, receiving over two dozen awards from Romance Writers of America chapter groups. She discovered her love for the Amish while researching her grandfather’s birthplace in Albion, Pennsylvania. Chapman lives in the Texas hill country with her husband.

Find out more at: http://www.quiltsoflovebooks.com

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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