Sunday, 17 April 2011

Plain Perfect (Daughters of the Promise #1) - Beth Wiseman

A search for peace in Amish country proves anything but simple for a woman on the run from life...and herself.

On the rolling plains of Lancaster County, PA., Lillian Miller is searching for her grandparents' house...and so much more. After years of neglect and abuse, she's turning to a lifestyle of simplicity among the Amish to find herself.

As she discards the distractions of her former life, she befriends the young boy working on her family's farm and his attractive widowed father, Samuel Stoltzfus. Despite Lillian's best efforts to the contrary, her feelings for Samuel--and his for her--deepen. Will Lillian find her faith in Plain living, or will she be forced to return to her former life?

With so many other Amish books that I own and need to read, I hadn't thought about checking out the work of Beth Wiseman until a friend leant me this book. Picking it up one evening when I was feeling under the weather and wanting to read a "real" book rather than something on my Kindle, I found myself pleasantly surprised. I almost devoured this book in an entire evening, unable to put it down. Lillian was a hilarious character, constantly putting her foot in her mouth whenever she claimed that she wanted to find "peace" amongst the Amish, and insisting that she'd manage fine because she knows how to cook! I loved that Beth had created such an unconventional, flawed heroine. Even though I couldn't entirely relate to her problems (nor her immaturity, that on any other character would have annoyed me) I wanted to keep reading about her because she was so entertaining.

The other characters in the novel were incredibly endearing, from the vastly different grandparents - the grandfather who saw the good in everyone and spoke his mind, and the grandmother who was still hurting from the loss of her daughter - to Samuel and his sweet son - who couldn't help but hope that Lillian would become his new mother. I even liked Lillian's "rival", who ended up being her friend. It was sweet to witness Lillian and Samuel unintentionally falling in love with each other, showing the readers how people from such vastly different backgrounds can find comfort in each other.

While I can sometimes be wary of conversion-to-the-Amish plotlines, Lillian's visit to Lancaster County made sense in that her mother had left the Amish as a teen, and both of them had subconsciously yearned to return there. I would have to say that Lillian's acceptance of the Amish ways wasn't entirely convincing, and that's why I'd give this book 9/10 rather than 10/10. At one point, she questioned why Amish women should be subservient to their husbands and she wasn't satisfied with her grandmother's answer - but this was never brought up again. I personally feel like Lillian would have needed a lot more convincing to join the Amish lifestyle, especially when it came to accepting "God's will" about bad situations. This is probably the part that I had the most difficulty with in this book. Even as a Christian, I don't believe it's "God's will" for bad things to happen - but I do believe it is His will for good things to come out of bad situations. But calling the death of a young woman from cancer "God's will" suggests that God intended for her to die - and I don't think this is the way it is at all. Lillian struggled with this also, but she seemed to finally accept it in the end but it was never really explained. I felt like too much was spent dwelling on the idea of "God's will" and it left me feeling a bit uncomfortable.

Despite my minor struggles with this book, I did really enjoy it. When a sudden tragedy struck Lillian's family near the end of the book I actually had tears in my eyes, which made me realise how attached I'd become to these characters. While the plot may have been rather predictable, the characters were far from conventional and I'd definitely recommend this book to fans of Amish fiction of the likes of Amy Clipston, Barbara Cameron, Vannetta Chapman and Kelly Long. I'm excited to get on to the next book and see where Beth takes our characters next. 9/10


  1. It is an excellent book, and I agree I found it hard to accept God's will being an answer to illness etc.
    I've got the 3rd book ready for you now too ;)

  2. Already? I wish I could read as fast as you! Sadly coursework says no :P Which book is your favourite so far?

  3. They were all good in different ways, I'm on the look out for 4 and 5 at bargain prices now!