By Vannetta Chapman
Abingdon Press - 2013
Each stand-alone novel in the Quilts of Love series by Abingdon Press features a quilt with a meaningful story behind it. This delightful series has a cozy, down-home feel to it, but with a surprising amount of emotion and depth. While I have enjoyed several Quilts of Love stories, The Christmas Quilt is one of my favorites.
Annie's life is deliciously full as the Christmas season approaches. She helps her husband, Samuel, attend to the community's minor medical needs. She occasionally assists Belinda, the local midwife. And most days, she finds herself taking the buggy to her brother's home.
Annie’s sister-in-law Leah is due to deliver their first child before Christmas morning. Annie becomes determined to finish a crib quilt before the boppli arrives. With six weeks to go, she should have no problem . . . but God may have a different plan.
Leah is rushed to the Englisch hospital when the infant arrives early. Annie discovers the Christmas quilt may hold a far greater significance than she ever imagined when she begins to tell stories to Leah, stories that coincide with the gifts of the spirit–love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
The fruits of the spirit.
The blessings of a child.
The miracle of Christmas.
The Christmas Quilt by Vannetta Chapman captures a lot of what I look for in a Christian fiction novel: a well-written story with characters who are real and that I care about, who face struggles and doubts honestly, and who grow spiritually as they live out a faith that is genuine. Vannetta takes us on a return visit to Annie and Samuel from 2010's A Simple Amish Christmas, but this story easily stands alone.
I loved how this story involves two married couples who are both expecting their first child. At first, Leah and Adam struggle with foolish misconceptions as Leah feels unloved, while Adam fears that he won't measure up as a father. But Annie and Samuel's deep love is beautifully expressed by Samuel in a conversation about the bond of a long marriage: "I think each year that passes, two hearts become more entwined, like two vines growing side by side. Eventually it must become difficult to know where the beat of one stops and the beat of the other begins."
I am unashamedly a fan of Amish fiction for three simple reasons: faith, family and community - and Vannetta has done a masterful job focusing on these elements in The Christmas Quilt.
The nine-patch crib quilt that Annie is making for Leah - featuring Sunbonnet Sue and Overall Sam - becomes a major character. Readers will be moved by the touching way that Annie and Leah, inspired by the fruit of the Spirit qualities from Galatians 5, tell stories as they quilt of people in their lives who reflect each of these nine qualities. I also applaud the way prayer was shown to be of such primary importance in the characters' lives, as easy and natural as God intended it to be.
The Amish believe in taking care of their own when needs arise, and they are amazingly successful at it. To support Leah and Adam when they are faced with high medical costs, the community puts together a benefit auction, for "It is biblical for all of the community to minister to our children - and to us - in our time of need" (Adam). And the essential role of family is beautifully summed up in Jacob's words: "Each of you are responsible for praying for these precious kinner, and also for helping raise them, for children need an entire family, not merely a mamm and dat."
The Christmas Quilt is a feel-good read that both entertains and inspires, perfect for Christmas or any time. Highly recommended to those who enjoy inspirational fiction.
Vannetta Chapman has published over one hundred articles in Christian family magazines, receiving over two dozen awards from Romance Writers of America chapter groups. She discovered her love for the Amish while researching her grandfather's birthplace in Albion, Pennsylvania. She published a novel with Abingdon Press called A Simple Amish Christmas in October of 2010. Her first Quilt Shop Murder Mystery, Falling to Pieces (Zondervan), released in September 2011. Chapman lives in the Texas hill country with her husband.
Visit Vannetta's website at vannettachapman.com to learn more.
This book was provided by Litfuse Publicity in exchange for my honest review.