This past Christmas, my husband bought me The Rose Trilogy by Beverly Lewis. It is a series about the Amish community in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Though I had never read Christian fiction about the Amish, I was curious to see how good this series would be.
The first book in the series is called The Thorn. It opens with Rose Ann Kauffman, 20, the youngest daughter of Solomon Kauffman, a crop farmer, wagon maker and Emma Kauffman who has been paralyzed from a buggy accident and lives in constant pain. She has older brothers who are talked about but never really seen in this book. She has one older sister, Hannah, nicknamed Hen who married Brandon Orringer, an English (non-Amish) man and they have one daughter Mattie Sue. Hen has left the Amish community because she has married an Outsider. Rose’s friend is Nick Franco, a foster child of Bishop Aaron Petershiem and his wife Barbara. Many in the community see Nick as trouble and Rose soon becomes his only friend. The book opens with Emma’s accident and the arrival of Nick. Rose takes care of her mother and helps a gentleman in the community with household chores. Hen yearns for her Amish roots and begins to immerse herself back in the community much to the dismay of her husband. Nick, now 21, is beyond the age of being baptized into the church and truly becoming a part of the community but he is resisting. Rose is being courted by Silas Good and thus a love-triangle is formed. As the book ends, Nick has left the community and Rose accepts a marriage proposal from Silas.
The second book in the series is called The Judgment. The story picks up a month or so after The Thorn ends. The community still talking about Nick and the events which led to his leaving. Bishop Aaron must face consequences of his foster son’s actions. A new character, Rebekah, is introduced. She is coming to the community to help a new mother after birth. It is very obvious that another love-triangle is being established. The reader is introduced to some of Brandon’s family. His sister, Terry, who seems to be stuck up and happy that her Amish sister-in-law is getting the boot. And his brother, Lawrence, who seems to sweeter and kinder to his sister-in-law. The tensions between Hen and Brandon are coming to a boil and when tragedy strikes, Hen has an opportunity to show Brandon that she still cares and show him the world he so stubbornly refused to see. Emma seems to be getting worse when a young girl with special needs enters their lives and gives them hope that she can get better. The reader discovers the real reason behind Silas’ proposal. Rose has to come to a difficult decision, a decision that could tarnish her reputation in the community.
The third book in the series is called The Mercy. This story takes place after the New Year with Rose Ann getting a new suitor, Isaac, and a surprise returns to the community. This creates yet another love triangle. Rose Ann dates Isaac but there’s something him that doesn’t feel right and the reader knows that this isn’t the man for Rose Ann but it sets up for the arrival of the man Rose Ann does truly belong with. The situation between Hen and Brandon comes to a close with a resolution that surprised me but it fit their conflict. The situation involving Bishop Aaron and Nick revolves with a situation that seems a little too good to be true. Without giving it away, it seems to me that if the Amish community is as tight knit as they claim to be, why didn’t the information come forward sooner? Overall, this book was enjoyable and it was a nice ending to a series that started out slowly.The Thorn started slow for me. So slow, in fact, that I had to put in down for a month, then pick it back up. The author uses Amish language, Deitsch, without much explanation of what the words mean. The reader is left to guess by the surrounding content but it’s distracting to have language without some form of translation. Rose seems a little naïve when it comes to the people in her community. She sees Nick as a friend and never picked up the fact that he had more than friendship feelings for her. The tensions between Hen and Brandon are annoying. The Judgment was a much better read. I was able to finish it in a day. The unfolding drama was much more captivating. The one thought that stuck in my head was the constant objection to higher education. I do know that the Amish do not attend school beyond the eighth education. Is the idea that education beyond what is necessary to live in the community will drive children away from the community? The Mercy was better than The Thorn but wasn’t as good as The Judgment. The events in the series takes place in approximately in one year with an epilogue. This series was enjoyable read. I recommend it to readers who love reading about new communities and peoples.