Sunday, July 9, 2017

Gladden the Heart: Amish Turns of Time

Welcome!  Olivia Newport writes Amish Turns of Time series along with Hidden Falls, Valley of Choice series, and Avenue of Dreams trilogy.  Readers can follow her on Amazon and receive an email when a new book is listed for sale. Her next novel is Colors of Christmas which publishes on October 1.

Gladden the Heart by Olivia Newport is the fifth book in an Amish Turns of Time series.  It is 1847 in Kishacoquillas Valley, Pennsylvania. Susanna Hooley lives on her family’s farm east of Lewistown, Pennsylvania.  One Sunday after church, Susanna’s cousin Noah is not feeling well and then collapses.  He then starts preaching and no one can get him to stop.  Noah is a quiet man and who is not known for his sermons.  After three hours of preaching, Noah collapses into a deep sleep.  When Noah awakens, he has no remembrance of what occurred.  Susanna goes over to Noah’s house the next day and discovers that his preaching is an everyday occurrence.  Noah’s wife, Phoebe has been keeping it under wraps.  Noah soon starts preaching almost every afternoon at the same time and his sermons are attracting attention.  Bishop Shem Hertzberger is less than pleased.  The revivalist movement has taken several Amish from their community, and Shem does not want to lose any other families.  Reverend Charles Baxton, a traveling Methodist minister, listens Noah’s stirring sermons and requests that Noah travel with him.  This controversy divides their Amish community.  Susanna supports Noah, but her beau, Adam is on the side hullabaloo.  But then one day Noah disappears while in one of his trance’s, and the whole community turns out to locate him.   Will they be able to locate Noah?  Is there a way to resolve the controversy and unite the community once again?

While Gladden the Heart is part of a series, it is a stand-alone novel.  I thought the concept behind Gladden the Heart is intriguing, I did enjoy the final product.  “Sleeping preachers” is an interesting phenomenon, and it could have made a great story.  Is it God’s will for this to happen to Noah?  I actually did a little research in “sleeping preachers”.  I just felt that the author could have done so much more with this subject.  Why did the Amish believe Noah’s preaching was wrong?  What was the main difference between the Amish faith and other religions at this time in history?  I thought the pace was sluggish (actually, slugs move faster) and the writing was not up to Olivia Newport’s usual standard.  The book was awkward and the characters flat.  There are numerous Bible verses (scripture) and sermons contained within the story (after a while, I started skipping past them).  I really struggled to finish this novel.  I can tell when I am not enjoying a book.  I start checking to see how much farther until the end and I start speed reading through boring parts.   When I start hoping for a good murder to spice up the storyline (especially when I am reading an Amish novel that is not a mystery), then I know I do not like the book.  The romance between Susanna and Adam failed to come to life.  I never felt love between the couple.  Susanna’s mother was an annoying character.  Her fear (for the time period) was understandable.  The characters lacked depth.  There is also a repetition of information (it felt like padding).  I am rating Gladden the Heart 2 out of 5 stars.  I do not want to discourage readers from Olivia Newport’s novels.  While Gladden the Heart was not for me, I have appreciated many of her other books (Valley of Choice series). 

Thank you for visiting and reading my thoughts on this novel.  If you belong to Google+, please consider adding me to your circle (upper right).  My next review will be of Lions and Tigers and Murders, Oh My by Denise Swanson.    May you have a lovely, relaxing Sunday.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

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