Friday, January 27, 2017

The Letters (The Inn at Eagle Hill #1), by Suzanne Woods Fisher (author), Amy McFadden (narrator)

Brilliance Audio, August 2013

Rose Schrock has lost a lot over the past couple of years. Her husband's previously successful, respectable investment business adopted riskier strategies to remain successful in an economic downturn, and ended by sinking into bankruptcy and ruin, with the SEC asking pointed and unpleasant questions. When they could no longer continue financially, her husband's mother takes in their whole family, in the farmhouse he grew up in--but with a condition. This Mennonite family must return to the Old Order Amish faith in which he and she were both raised. They do it, and have a level of security, but then he abruptly dies in circumstances that might or might not be suicide.

It's a shock for the five children, both their younger three together and his two from his first marriage, and Rose is left struggling to pay off her late husband's debts, care for her cranky mother-in-law, and support her family. On top of all this, the eldest son, Tobe, who had worked with his father, has disappeared.

Rose needs to turn things around, and a chance encounter with an "English" couple, i.e., not Amish, needing a place to stay in town for a night or two leads her to the idea of turning the old farmhouse into a bad & breakfast inn.

Rose's mother-in-law, Vera, is appalled. Older daughter Bethany thinks it's crazy, while younger daughter Miriam thinks it might work. The twin boys are too young to really have an opinion. Neighbor Galen King helps her do the conversion of the finished basement into guest quarters.

They're all in for a year of revelations and changes.

What's key in this book is the development of the characters. Rose, Vera, Bethany, and Miriam, along with Galen King and his apprentice horse trainer, all have a lot to learn about their own and each other's strengths and weaknesses. Those lessons don't come only from each other, or from other Amish. The Amish and the "English" who come to stay at the Inn at Eagle Hill have a lot to learn from each other. It's worthy of note that Fisher does this without either sappiness or disrespect for either basic viewpoint. It's a warm, enjoyable story that shows some faith in human nature as well as in God.

Recommended.

I received this audiobook as a gift, and am reviewing it voluntarily.