I tend not to read Amish fiction. It’s just not my thing. So why did I read Jolina Petersheim’s debut novel? A) It was an INSPY nomination & B) It’s a retelling of The Scarlet Letter, so I was most definitely intrigued.
Man oh man, do I recommend this one! Nominated for the INSPYs, it was one of the many I read and when you’re reading close to 150 books and trying to narrow down five in each category, when one stands out, you know it’s a keeper.
Raised in an Old Order Mennonite community, Rachel Stoltzfus is a strong-willed single woman, content living apart from mainstream society until whispers stir the moment her belly swells with new life. Refusing to repent and name the partner in her sin, Rachel feels the wrath of the religious sect as she is shunned by those she loves most. She is eventually coerced into leaving by her brother-in-law, the bishop.
But secrets run deep in this cloistered community, and the bishop is hiding some of his own, threatening his conscience and his very soul. When the life of Rachel’s baby is at stake, however, choices must be made that will bring the darkness to light, forever changing the lives of those who call Copper Creek home.
The Old Mennonite culture in Petersheim’s novel was the perfect setting to re-tell The Scarlet Letter and the characters were just as fantastic. I liked Rachel and thought she was a strong character, even with the situation she was in. While sometimes I wanted her to scream out the father of her child, it wasn’t annoying that she didn’t – it made the story what it is and since you expect that (unless you haven’t read The Scarlet Letter), Petersheim makes it work fantastically. I also liked some of the different things she did with it (I don’t want to say exactly what, so as not to spoil and you just have to buy the book ;), things you don’t really see in this genre, but made the novel stand out all the more and brought a different perspective.
Even if you aren’t a fan of Amish type stories, I definitely recommend this one – it’s one I think you’ll enjoy! I’m looking forward to reading her latest release as well, The Midwife! Are you a big Amish fan or have you read this one?