After five years as an Englisher, Amanda Dienner is shocked to learn her mother has passed away and left her Lancaster County’s most popular Amish bed-and-breakfast. What’s more, the inn will only truly be hers if Mandy can successfully run it for twelve months. Reluctantly, Mandy accepts the challenge, no matter that it means facing the family she left behind–or that the inn’s clientele expect an Amish hostess! Can Mandy fulfill the terms of her inheritance? Or will this prove a dreadful mistake?
“Mandy, you are to inherit the farmhouse, including the business of the inn.”
She could scarcely find her voice to respond. “Ach, this must be a mistake,” she told him, shaking her head as she talked into the phone, feeling befuddled. “The house . . . and everything related to the inn . . . shouldn’t that go to Arie Mae?”
“The Proving” was a first for me in a couple of ways. Excitingly, it was the first book ever sent to me by a publisher for review (THANK YOU BETHANY HOUSE!). It was also my first Beverly Lewis, and my first “Amish” read. I wanted to make sure I was giving it a fair assessment, so I picked up a copy of “The Guardian” (the newest book by Ms. Lewis I could find in stock at my local library), and skimmed through that quickly as well.
From the start I found this book a fairly easy read. I pretty much devoured it in 1 day. The chapters are long enough to enjoy for a nice sit down, but short enough to also allow you to read it in spurts if need be. All of the chapters end with a hook that draw you into continuing for “just one more chapter”. The story starts off in a way that puts you smack in the middle of the family conflict (both past and present). It does leave you feeling a little off kilter, and trying to catch up – but not necessarily in a bad way.
My only real issue with this book was character motive inconsistency and development. The main character, Mandy comes off from the get-go as melodramatic and a bit sad. I didn’t find much of a spark or connection with her until pretty much the end of the book. Many times it was hard to understand her motives or actions. When she’s living as an “Englischer” she pines for her old Amish life and home; romanticizing her memories; but then when she is back within her old life, she is constantly rebelling and throwing up walls around her. She talks about missing her family, but when she is back, she continues to be the cause friction with them (even after admitting to herself the old reason for the break with her family is obsolete now). She then doesn’t understand why she is being shut out because of her own actions. The character development and arcs within the book really seemed either inconsistent or non existent up until the last couple of chapters.
The introduction of Trina and the whole other second story line 4 chapters into the book really threw me at first. There had been no mention of the other major storyline in any of the blurb or info on the book that I saw, so it was a little jarring. That being said, Trina was a well fleshed-out, interesting character – and Gavin ended up being my favorite of the entire book (mainly because he didn’t swing wildly from one trait spectrum to the next).
I really enjoyed the relationship growth between Mandy and Karl, and wish that would would have been explored more, rather than the focus put on Trina’s story line. I think, based on my Christian fiction reading being mainly romance based (i.e. Lynn Austin or the “Love Inspired” series), I had expected this to be more of a romance involving the main character, rather than general fiction with a side of romance.
Apart from my character arc/development issues, I really did enjoy the prose of the story. The dialogue differences she shows for the Amish and Others are charming and help give distinction. As a lover of farms and old homes, I absolutely loved the setting of Butterfly Meadows and could totally see myself there. WHere I live right now in California we are having a heat wave, and I could see myself out in Karl’s snowy sleigh-ride and then into the kitchen for some hot cocoa. Sidenote: all the food sounded AMAZING.
Overall, I give this book a 3/5. The book was easy to read, with an interesting plot setting, and great setting. I think this would be geared best to people who are tried and true Beverly Lewis fans. That being said, I would not rule out reading something else by her in the future.