Monday, 24 January 2011

Sarah's Garden - Kelly Long

Quite by accident, Sarah King has fallen in love. But this love is forbidden, and could cost her everything she holds dear.

Tucked into the majesty of Pennsylvania’s Allegheny Mountains is a garden Sarah King has been nurturing for years. She never feels more alive than when she is alone with her thoughts and her Creator among the delicate rows of plants. But then duty calls her away from her beloved garden and into a world she knows little about.

Grant Williams, a handsome young veterinarian, has left the city to open a rural practice among the Amish. Within minutes of meeting shy but feisty Sarah King, he is captivated by her.

As their feelings grow for one another, Sarah insists they can never be together. Marrying Grant would mean being uprooted from her home, her family, and her community. Throughout the cold Pennsylvania winter, with her garden tucked away until spring, Sarah begins crafting a quilt that illustrates her pain. Can anything lasting blossom from a love that’s forbidden?

Sarah buries her shyness in her garden, nurturing her plants with her God-given gift and love of the land. But when her sister marries and leaves the family farm, Sarah has to step into her shoes and tend the vegetable stall. Initially scared at the prospect of having to deal with people - especially Englishers! - on a regular basis, Sarah soon finds that she's enjoying herself. Especially since Grant Williams, the local English vet and her new neighbour, continually visits the stall and becomes a close friend. It begins to feel like Grant has always been part of her life, and as Sarah spends many hours helping him plant a vegetable garden she realises that what she feels for Grant is more than she's ever felt for any Amish boy. But where can their relationship go? Sarah could never leave her community. Could Grant ever give up his sports car and join the Amish world?

Kelly really grasps the essence of the Amish way of life in this simple love story. I felt like I was working with Sarah in her garden and walking beside her and Grant in the forest. There was a true sense of peace, despite the dramas occurring in the lives of the characters. And I really got the impression that the Amish were welcoming, loving people. While some novels choose to focus on shunnings and people who find themselves pitted against the Elders in their community, this portrayal was entirely different. I loved the way in which the Amish welcomed Grant with open arms when he expressed his desire to become a vet for their community. And they freely accepted his help in emergencies, allowing him to drive them to the hospital or a friend's house if needed. This was very different to other novels where the Amish avoid anyone English at all costs.

Sarah and Grant's story isn't terribly complicated. A girl falls for a boy that she cannot be with because of societal differences, yet both yearn to be together. Sarah's parents were surprisingly accepting of their daughter's developing relationship to an outsider, and while they discouraged her they didn't actively try to stop them being together. They could have banned her from seeing him, but they let her make her own choices. And while Sarah does have another love-interest, her best friend Jacob, it is clear that Grant is the only man that she's interested in. I appreciated that Kelly showed not only the blossoming friendship between Sarah and Grant, but also their attraction to each other and the physical aspect of their relationship. While the emotional and spiritual foundations of any relationship are always the most important, a lot of authors forget about attraction and even simple hugs and kisses. I'm sure that any reader will agree that the kisses shared between Sarah and Grant were not lustful, but emphasised their love for each other and their desire to be together.

My only minor complaints about this book would have to be that Grant initially appeared to be far too forward in his flirtations, and that the situation with the Fisher farm was resolved a little too easily. Grant is, in my eyes, clearly flirting with Sarah from their first meeting at the vegetable stand. Something just didn't sit right with this, and it made me a little wary of him to begin with. I wouldn't have minded if their relationship had built up to flirtations, but it seemed a little odd to behave in such a forward manner from the start. I did warm up to him, but this niggled me for a while. As for the Fisher farm and the mystery surrounding that, all the problems were resolved in a couple of pages near the end of the novel and it just seemed a bit too fast and too easy.

I thoroughly enjoyed this story and became so involved in the lives of the characters that I even shed a tear or two over their struggles! Kelly Long is definitely an author to keep your eye on if you're interested in Amish fiction. Not only does she understand her subject inside and out, she creates characters that you'll wish you never have to say goodbye to. 9/10


  1. I thoroughly enjoed this book Rachel. Will look forward to reading the rest of the series I think!

  2. Yay, I knew you'd like it! I've got a review copy of the next in the series, Lilly's Wedding Quilt. It should be published sometime this month. Sadly I only have an ebook, otherwise I'd lend it to you - but I'll write a review so you'll know what to expect!