Monday, April 15, 2013

Review: Accidentally Amish

By Olivia Newport

Accidentally Amish by Olivia Newport is the first novel in the Valley of Choice series.  Inspired by Newport's ancestry and real-life events, this novel interweaves the story of two families:  the Beyeler family, who immigrated from Europe in 1743 to join an Amish settlement in Pennsylvania, and the present-day Beiler family, who settled in the San Luis Valley of Colorado.


With her high-tech career in jeopardy, Annie runs from fast-paced Colorado Springs—and straight into the hospitality of San Luis Valley’s Amish community. There she meets cabinetmaker Rufus Beiler, and the more time she spends with him, the more attracted she becomes. When Annie finds she shares a common ancestor with Rufus, she feels both cultures colliding within her.

My Thoughts

This is the first book I've read by Olivia Newport and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Olivia is a descendant of main character Jakob Beyeler, who fled religious persecution in Switzerland to take advantage of land offered in Pennsylvania by William Penn.  The theme is built around the choices Jakob made and their effect on future generations.  Olivia notes at the end, "As I researched, I became mindful of the power of choice . . . Three hundred years after my ancestors arrived in Pennsylvania, the choices that shape our lives come in updated packaging, but they are essentially the same."

This story is both contemporary and historical, successfully blending the storylines of Rufus Beiler and Annie in a modern Colorado Amish community with their ancestor, Jakob Beyeler as he homesteads in Pennsylvania.  And it is different from most Amish fiction that I've read, in that the element of choice plays such a big part.  Left with five children to raise after the death of his wife, Jakob chooses to marry an "English" woman, which creates religious conflict within the family.  When a friend tries to reason with Jakob, he responds, "If I were to wed a woman like Elizabeth Kallen and give my children a mother in the middle of the wilderness, might I be answering a higher calling than the call to join the church?"

Olivia does a good job of picturing a characteristic of the Amish that I admire, that of meeting the needs of both family and community.  In the words of Rufus, "For us, the community comes first.  If electricity or a phone carries us away from community, it also carries us away from God."  And later, in a scene where neighbors are repairing Rufus's handmade furniture after it was vandalized, Rufus explains:  "This is our way.  When one suffers, we all suffer.  It's better together than alone.  That is the body of Christ."

The story ends with Annie being drawn to the Amish faith, saying to Rufus:  "I want the faith I see in you.  I want to understand what you value, how you make choices that bring meaning to your life."  Does the idea that Annie - a successful, wealthy businesswoman - would consider giving up her career and lifestyle to become Amish seem realistic?  Maybe not, but Olivia created characters and a story that I want to come back to.  Although Accidentally Amish comes to a satisfactory conclusion, several storylines will obviously be continued in the next book.  I recommend this book to all who enjoy inspirational fiction.

For more information on Olivia Newport and her books, visit her website at

This book was provided by Barbour Publishing through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent review. Your site is a lovely, very visual one. Easy to read. I can easily decide if I want to read a book or not from your thoughts. Thanks!