The Photograph by Beverly Lewis

The Photograph by Beverly LewisThe Photograph by Beverly Lewis
Published by Baker Books on September 8th 2015
Genres: Amish & Mennonite, Christian, Fiction, General, Religious
Pages: 320
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Eva Esch and her sisters are in a predicament. With the passing of their widowed mother, Eva’s older brother Menno plans to move his growing family into the Eden Valley farmhouse where they all grew up, leaving little room for his three single sisters. Surely, Menno reasons, at leastone of them will marry this coming wedding season. Eva does hope to marry, but she isn’t sure she wants to give up her sweet shop for the life of a farmer’s wife, and she has no other prospects.

When younger sister, Lily, disappears in the night, leaving only a brief note, Eva fears she has been wooed away from the People by an outsider. And when Jed Stutzman, a young Amish buggy maker from Ohio, shows up in Lancaster with a photo of a Plain young woman, Eva’s world begins to tilt. She feels powerfully drawn to the quietly charming stranger–but the woman in the forbidden photograph is no stranger at all. . . .

Whenever you see an Amish book review on this blog, you can bet (a) my mother read the book and then we had a conversation about it; (b) my mother read the book and wrote me an email about it and then I dressed it up a bit; or  (c) my mother read the book and then wrote a book report so I could post it. Little by little, I’m inching her into taking over the Amish book reports all on her very own. (Shhhh, don’t tell her that part.)

This report on The Photograph by Beverly Lewis falls under the (b) category above (mom read the book, then sent me an email about it, which I’ve then tweaked” a bit:

I have always loved Beverly Lewis’ books – the slow pace of the Amish lifestyle just draws me in. This book was wonderfully interesting from beginning to end. Once I started the book, I could not put it down until I finished the entire book.

The Photography’s story is woven around 3 sisters, Frona, Eva and Lily, and their married brothers whose parents have recently passed away. Their youngest married brother, Menno, and his family may want to take over the family homestead and there is not enough room for all. One of the sisters may stay as long as she helps with his children.  After learning this, the youngest sister, Lily, unexpectedly runs away leaving a note, having chosen to leave the Amish to go off with her boyfriend. Not only is Eva dealing with the loss of her sister and parents, but now she’s faced with the problem of finding a place to live.

Jed Stutzman is trying to move on after he lost his fiancé is traveling to Eden Valley from Ohio to learn how to make the Pennsylvania style buggy.  On this trip Jed comes across a book that holds a photograph of a beautiful young Amish girl. Jed is puzzled by the boldness of the woman in the photograph, since Amish people are not allowed to get their picture taken. He’s sure he knows who is in the photograph, but appearances can be deceiving. The book has personal notes written in the margins Eva is drawn to this handsome, caring stranger who has come to her community the young woman in the picture he has is certainly NO stranger to her.

The love story between Jed and Eva is sweet, but they share sorrows. As a couple are they really suited for each other? The romance does not play the biggest role, but Lewis does a great job at weaving Eva and Jed’s story together. The mystery of the photograph and the connection between individuals and three different locations with the theme of family, community, and most importantly, the bonding of siblings are all the threads that pull this story all together. Family devotion and the tight knit world of the Amish is once again the key to making this a story that you will want to keep reading to the end.

Thank you to Bethany House for the opportunity for a free advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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