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By Suzanne Woods Fisher
Amish Beginnings #2
In 1737, Anna Konig and her fellow church members stagger off a small wooden ship after ten weeks at sea, eager to start a new life in the vibrant but raw Pennsylvania frontier. On the docks of Port Philadelphia waits bishop Jacob Bauer, founder of the settlement and father to ship carpenter Bairn. It’s a time of new beginnings for the reunited Bauer family, and for Anna and Bairn’s shipboard romance to blossom.
But this perfect moment cannot last. As Bairn grasps the reality of what it means to be Amish in the New World–isolated, rigid with expectations, under the thumb of his domineering father–his enthusiasm evaporates. When a sea captain offers the chance to cross the ocean one more time, Bairn grabs it. Just one more crossing, he promises Anna. But will she wait for him?
When Henrik Newman joins the church just as it makes its way to the frontier, Anna is torn. He seems to be everything Bairn is not–bold, devoted, and delighted to vie for her heart. And the most dramatic difference? He is here; Bairn is not.
Far from the frontier, an unexpected turn of events weaves together the lives of Bairn, Anna, and Henrik. When a secret is revealed, which true love will emerge?
Suzanne Woods Fisher knows how to tell a story that entertains and inspires, leaving readers with much to reflect upon after the last page is turned. And with the Amish Beginnings series, rich historical detail adds even more depth.
The Newcomer picks up Anna and Bairn’s story right where Anna’s Crossing ended, with a small Amish group landing at Port Philadelphia in 1737, seeking a fresh start and freedom to worship. A great sense of place and compelling storylines come from various settings - from Philadelphia (with delightful scenes with Benjamin Franklin), to the ship Lady Luck, the Ephrata Cloister, and the land that Bairn’s father wanted to claim for the Amish. There’s a fluidity and thoughtfulness to Suzanne’s writing, with a subtle humor never far below the surface.
Bairn and Anna are well developed, memorable characters. Bairn’s past causes him to feel like a lost soul, stifled by the life that being reunited with his family affords and feeling the sea’s strong call. It’s a joy to see the quiet effect that Anna’s strong and constant faith has on him. And I love how the thread of the rose bush continues, reflecting the resilient faith of the Amish. Bairn’s spiritual journey is moving, and even Anna struggles with taking responsibility herself rather than totally depending on God – something we can all identify with.
There are two compelling secondary characters that I long to see more of – Bairn’s mother, Dorothea, and brother, Felix. I feel like there’s a lot more to come and eagerly await the next book in this series.
Click on title to see my review of book #1, Anna's Crossing
I was provided a free copy of this book through Celebrate Lit. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.
Suzanne Woods Fisher is an award-winning, bestselling author of more than a dozen novels, including Anna’s Crossing, The Bishop’s Family series, and The Inn at Eagle Hill series, as well as nonfiction books about the Amish, including Amish Peace and The Heart of the Amish. She lives in California.
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