This gentle evocation of second-chance romance among the Amish will win many hearts. While they might be said to be in the summer of their lives, neither Abigail Stolz nor Ethan Miller is entirely happy. They were each widowed and Jamie, Abigail’s nine-year-old son is giving trouble in school – Ethan is the schoolmaster. A SUMMER AMISH COURTSHIP begins in spite of the pair’s intent. Jamie needs extra lessons when most farming people really don’t have time from daybreak to dusk.
Normally I read about an unmarried woman doing teaching work. But if all the young women had married – thus removing themselves to care for their homes – I guess a keen reader with no family of his own, and the patience to spend days with children, would be chosen. Ethan is well established when Abigail and her son arrive in Hickory Grove from their former home. As Abigail lives with her own parents, doing most of the housework, nobody in the friendly community notices that Abigail’s mother June is in the early stages of dementia. Abigail has been efficiently helping out and covering up, taking on twice the responsibility she previously had.
To me, it’s astonishing that so little emphasis would be given to the quality of the children’s education. The school has ancient materials, including a chalkboard and primers sixty-years-old. Nobody seems to read with the children at home. If the youngsters only start at the advanced age of six and are likely to be pulled out in early teens to work in trades, shouldn’t they pack in as much learning as possible to those few years? Yet we are shown a wise farmer who comments that the outside world is changing fast, and the young people will need to know how to deal with visitors who buy their goods.
Besides the quiet romance that builds through this book, we see the weight of caring for a parent with dementia. Many adults in every community can relate to this issue and sometimes it helps to read about characters going through what you’re surviving. Overall it must be said, this is a cheerful book, full of Emma Miller’s usual observations of living close to the land, lively with her well-written characters and good cooking. As they do so much physical exercise, the Amish can eat filling meals including three kinds of salads and bread, then two choices of dessert. Who wouldn’t want that kind of picnic? A SUMMER AMISH COURTSHIP comes as a welcome break from the stresses of spring 2020.
After a sudden heartbreaking loss, young widow Abigail Stolz must somehow help her troubled son adjust—even if it means working with Jamie’s stern schoolmaster, Ethan Miller. Much to her surprise, Ethan is actually a sensitive man who is also grieving—and lonely. But will family duty and the past keep them from a chance at happiness together?