By Suzanne Woods Fisher
Amish Beginnings, #1
Some endings are really beginnings . . .
On a hot day in 1737 in Rotterdam, Anna König reluctantly sets foot on the Charming Nancy, a merchant ship that will carry her and her fellow Amish believers across the Atlantic to start a new life. As the only one in her community who can speak English, she feels compelled to go. But Anna is determined to complete this journey and return home--assuming she survives. She's heard horrific tales of ocean crossings and worse ones of what lay ahead in the New World. But fearfulness is something Anna has never known.
Ship's carpenter Bairn resents the somber people--dubbed Peculiars by the deckhands--who fill the lower deck of the Charming Nancy. All Bairn wants to do is to put his lonely past behind him, but that irksome and lovely lass Anna and her people keep intruding on him.
Delays, storms, illness, and diminishing provisions test the mettle and patience of everyone on board. When Anna is caught in a life-threatening situation, Bairn makes a discovery that shakes his entire foundation. But has the revelation come too late?
Bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher invites you back to the beginning of Amish life in America with this fascinating glimpse into the first ocean crossing--and the lives of two intrepid people who braved it.
Anna's Crossing, a story about the first Atlantic crossing for the Amish in 1737, is such an impressive novel on many levels - character driven with flowing prose and a moving storyline that engages the emotions. Fascinating historical depth forms the backdrop for a story that not only entertained and informed, but left me with much upon which to reflect.
One thing I've always admired about Suzanne's stories is the interaction between Amish and English as the Amish live out their faith, and that's exactly what she does here. Pulled away from the peaceful rural settings we've come to expect in Amish fiction, most of the action takes place on board the Charming Nancy as it sails for Port Philadelphia - but the ship's name is a little deceptive because there wasn't much "charm" about the situation on board. I appreciate Suzanne's desire to research this period of Amish history and flesh out a story around their sacrifice and commitment to reach an unknown land where they could worship in peace.
Anna and Bairn are memorable characters that readers can't help but be drawn to. Anna is a wholesome and humble young lady, yet with a spark of assertiveness that serves everyone around her well. With a faith that never wavered during rough times, she is an inspiration to us all. Bairn is a more complicated character - kind and tenderhearted toward Anna and young Felix, yet past experiences led to disillusionment with God and all that remained was a drive to work hard in order to grow rich.
Roses play a beautiful and important part in Anna's Crossing, which is actually the back story to the recently-published Christmas at Rose Hill Farm that centers around a "lost" rose. Anna reflects that the survival of her grandmother's roses "was a testament to her people's story: roots that adapted to whatever soil they were transplanted into, thorns that bespoke of the pain they bore, blossoms each spring that declared God's power to bring new life from death. As long as the roses survived, her grandmother said, so would our people."
One of the strengths of this story is that it shows how, while being out of their comfort zone and in an unfriendly environment, they were still effective witnesses through their sacrifice, putting needs of others ahead of themselves, and completely trusting in God's provision - and that has to speak to us today. Anna's Crossing vividly reminds me of the fact that our lives are but one thread in God's tapestry - and that, although we can't see the whole tapestry and might question why certain things are happening, God never leaves our side. As Anna so beautifully expressed, "Even in the midst of great gales, they could know peace."
There's a lovely twist toward the end that gave me chills because it was such a beautiful visual of how God is always working to orchestrate things for our good - and it made me pause to reflect on the many things I've experienced for which there could be no explanation but God. To say I'm eager to read the next book in this series is putting it mildly!
Anna's Crossing is a story that I believe will appeal to all readers. Highly recommended.
Suzanne Woods Fisher
Suzanne Woods Fisher is the bestselling author of the Lancaster County Secrets series, the Stoney Ridge Seasons series, and The Inn at Eagle Hill series, as well as nonfiction books about the Amish, including Amish Peace. She is also the coauthor of an Amish children's series, The Adventures of Lily Lapp. Suzanne is a Carol Award winner for The Search, a Carol Award finalist for The Choice, and a Christy Award finalist for The Waiting. She is also a columnist for Christian Post and Cooking & Such magazines. She lives in California.
Connect with Suzanne online at suzannewoodsfisher.com, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
Thank you to Revell for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.