Gladden the Heart by Olivia Newport (review by Cathy)

Gladden the Heart

 

About the book:

When the lively fervor of nineteenth century revivalism endangers the staid customs of the Amish community in the lush but rugged Kishacoquillas Valley of central Pennsylvania in 1847, the Amish church must deal with a divisive question: What is a genuine spiritual experience?

The question turns personal when Susanna’s beloved cousin Noah begins preaching while under trances and even though he is not a minister he gives long sermons that attract increasing attention. Curious, she helps to keep Noah safe during his trances. At the same time Adam, Susanna’s intended, feels pressure from the bishop to speak out against the ways of revivalism.

Susanna and Adam are pushed to opposite sides of a controversy that threatens their traditional Amish faith.. Now they must grapple with whether love is possible…even if they come to different conclusions.

When Noah goes missing at a time of day when he often preaches while asleep, circumstances thrust community members with divergent opinions into a crisis that demands they recognize the humanity they share regardless of beliefs. But can strong-held opinions be softened by the truths that shape their lives?

 

 

My review (3 stars)

I found this book to be quite interesting, I’m familiar with revivals and the popularity of them when preachers traveled to reach many people who may have not have access to a church in their towns.
What made me like this book as much as I did is the premise and the characters. At times I was sad for Noah. The community treated him as an oddity which was horrible, but at the same time I could understand why they did. It was not their way of worshipping and it frightened them.
The pace of the story moved a bit too slow for me and I would have liked to have more focus on Susanna’s and Adam’s relationship. I enjoyed reading about how they dyed cloth and wanted more of that story. The secondary characters were interesting and I did learn about sleeping preachers which I hadn’t been aware until this book.
I have been a fan of the author for a couple of years and will definitely read more of her work and recommend Gladden the Heart to readers of Amish Fiction.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.

 

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