Friday, August 11, 2017

Review: The Return

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About the Book

Book title: The Return  
Author: Suzanne Woods Fisher  
Release date: Sept 1, 2017  
Genre: Amish  

In a wild country, the true cost of love may be more than they can bear

Beautiful and winsome, Betsy Zook never questioned her family’s rigid expectations, nor those of devoted Hans—but then she never had to. Not until the night she’s taken captive in a surprise Indian raid. Facing brutality and hardship, Betsy finds herself torn between her pious upbringing and the feelings she’s developing for a native man who encourages her to see God in all circumstances. 

Greatly anguished by Betsy’s captivity, Hans turns to Tessa Bauer for comfort. She responds eagerly, overlooking troubling signs of Hans’s hunger for revenge. But if Betsy is ever restored to the Amish, will things between Hans and Tessa have gone too far? 

Inspired by true events, this deeply layered novel gives a glimpse into the tumultuous days of prerevolutionary Pennsylvania through the eyes of two young, determined, and faith-filled women.  

My Thoughts

Lancaster, Pennsylvania – 1763

This New World, intended to be a holy experiment of tolerance, was anything but. All these devout people – Scots-Irish, Quakers, Mennonites, Moravians, Lutherans – they all distrusted each other. But let the talk turn to Indians, and they were instantly thick as thieves, united in their hatred.

As with all that Suzanne Woods Fisher writes, The Return is incredible. I won’t go so far as to say that it’s the best book she has written because each story is unique and never fails to touch me, but there is something special about this one.

From a descriptive standpoint, the narrative flows smoothly and every word has a purpose. Careful attention is paid to historical detail, characters are multifaceted – and in the midst of danger and discord for colonists of the New World, Fisher injects a subtle and delightful humor. We even get to see the meaning behind some common sayings heard today … such as hitting the nail on the head and I’ll be there with bells on. This story stands alone, but reading the Amish Beginnings series in order makes for a more fulfilling experience.

Precious and endearing characters abound … Bairn and Anna, whose story began in book one, Anna’s Crossing; Bairn’s now-grown-up brother, Felix, who was a handful as a child and hasn’t yet outgrown some childish tendencies; Caleb, who knows what it’s like to not be fully accepted in any culture; Betsy and Tessa, two pioneer women with strength and determination; and even Rumpled Martin, son of a Mennonite minister. Bairn and Anna, equally strong in faith and love for each other, have been favorites of mine throughout the series. I have to confess a little humanness here, but there’s just something about a Scotsman that gets to me, and when Bairn speaks in his Scotish brogue …

What sets this novel apart is the way readers will connect with the setting and characters, literally being pulled into the scenes. These characters may have lived 250 years ago, but their wisdom, faith and courage are timeless. Spiritual themes are especially relevant … 

   ... the need for grace, reflected in Bairn’s ministry style at Stoney Ridge 
   … how thoughtless words can incite an unquenchable anger and vengeance 
   … prejudice, how easy and tempting it is to paint all people of a certain nationality or belief system with the same brush 
   … that we must never allow evil to be victorious 
   ... and that God is sovereign in all circumstances.

The Return is a wonderfully entertaining and touching story – heartbreaking at times, but filled with the inspiration of grace and hope. I hope to see more from these characters, especially Betsy, Tessa, Caleb and Martin. “Best of the best” for me.

Highly recommended.

I was provided a free copy of this book through Celebrate Lit and Revell. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.


Favorite quotes …

“It often puzzled Tessa how personal significance was needed for men to see things clearly. Their secret pride.”

“Vengeance is a dangerous master to feed. Its appetite has no end.”

“What virtue does obedience have if it is not examined and then made to be a choice?”

“A bachelor is a man who’s too fast to be caught or too slow to be worth catching.”

About the Author

Suzanne Woods Fisher is an award-winning, bestselling author of more than two dozen novels, including Anna’s Crossing and The Newcomer in the Amish Beginnings series, 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. Learn more at and follow Suzanne on Twitter @suzannewfisher.

Guest Post from Suzanne Woods Fisher

The Three Sisters’ Garden: Corn, Squash & Beans!

Corn was a new food to the immigrants to the New World, introduced to them by Native Americans. Soon, it became an essential part of their daily diet, in one form or another. Growing it brought yet another new discovery: companion planting in the form of the Three Sisters’ Garden.

According to Iroquois legend, corn, squash and beans were three inseparable sisters who only grew and thrived together. 18th century Native Americans wouldn’t have understood the science behind why companion planting worked, but they knew it did. Beans, like all legumes, have bacteria living on their roots that help them absorb nitrogen from the air and convert it to a form that plants can use. Corn, which requires a lot of nitrogen to grow, benefits from the legumes and provides a pole support for the beans to climb. Low growing squash leaves shade the soil and prevent weed growth. Their sharp and prickly leaves deter pests. This tradition, of planting corn, beans and squash in the same mounds, became a sustainable system to provide long-term soil fertility among Native American tribes that farmed. 

The wisdom of planting Three Sisters’ Garden was adopted by the immigrants, including our own Betsy Zook from The Return. Betsy learned of the technique while a captive among a tribe of Indians and later, after she had been returned to the Amish, shared her knowledge with Anna and Bairn.  

Have you ever considered growing a Three Sisters’ garden? All you need is the right kind of seeds, a mound of dirt in a sunny spot, and to not forget to water. Mother Nature will do the rest. 

Suzanne Woods Fisher is a bestselling, award-winning author of novels about the Old Order Amish. Her interest in the Plain People began with her grandfather, who was raised as a Dunkard (German Baptist) on a farm in Pennsylvania. Suzanne loves to connect with readers! You can find her on-line at

*Images courtesy of Dream Home Improvement and Technology Exchange Lab


  1. Our yard only provides enough sunlight on the patio to grow a garden of vegetables. However, we do grow tomatoes, sweet peppers, okra, and eggplant in pots. So, I suppose we could try corn, beans, and squash in a large pot. I'll suggest it to my husband, the gardener in our family. Thanks for the tip.