I’ll say this up front – I’m not a big “Amish Fiction” person. I’ve read Beverly Lewis’ “Summer Hill Secrets Series” (teen fiction) and had my pleasant fill of the Amish setting. I enjoyed and would recommend that series, especially to teens, but my natural tendency is to lean towards historical fiction or something with a good action packed plot. But…there are always exceptions to my own rules and when I feel the need to break them; Beverly Lewis is one of the authors I turn to. When that time came, Beverly’s first novel in her “Home to Hickory Hollow Series” released in 2012, caught my attention.
“The Fiddler” bridges the Amish world and our own with two characters who couldn’t be more different, yet, who faced the same challenges when considering what their future held. After reading the back cover and write-up online that promised an interesting plot with a girl who played violin and an Amish guy thinking about leaving the Amish church, I thought, “That sounds like an interesting twist I would enjoy.” And it was…
Amelia Devries is what the Amish call an Englisher. (A person who is not Amish.) A very successful violinist, she had traveled and played with the best orchestras in the world and grew up with privileges most of us never had. Yet, Amelia had a secret – she longed for something different in life than the long hours of practice, touring and seclusion from society that her job enforced. This freedom she hoped for expressed itself in “fiddling.” (Obviously, something looked down upon in the sophisticated form of music her life was devoted to.) On top of that, she felt drained from being on tour constantly and longed for a simpler life, one where she could be a part of community. But this amazing girl constantly sacrificed her own desires to honor her sick father and let him live his dreams through her career.
Amelia was a very life-like character who many people could probably relate to. There were things she wanted to do that she couldn’t – and things she enjoyed doing, but didn’t want to continue at the intensity required of her. She felt stuck. I love how Lewis worked out this situation in this character’s life and by example, encouraging readers to do just what Amelia did – honor the gift given to her, do what’s right when it’s hard and wait for God to fulfill the desire of her heart when the time was right.
Michael Hostetler is the hero…and rightly so. This young Amish man faced similar circumstances that Amelia did and took them on with grace and godly courage, even when it hurt. He too, didn’t want to stray far from his family, their Amish traditions or God – but they held him back and stifled his God given talents, not to mention his love of learning. Blamed for his niece’s rebellion and pressured to join the Amish church, marry and settle down; Michael had life changing decisions ahead of him. Was it really so wrong to get a higher education and dream of building beautiful structures? Was it wrong to listen to music? Would a woman like Amelia ever want to be with him, a simple man from the country?
I liked how Beverly Lewis crafted a realistic, godly example in this character. Michael wasn’t perfect, but he prayed over every problem he faced and showed a sacrificial attitude that shows a strong character rooted deep inside a heart that was thoughtful and kind.
If you read the back cover, you can piece the basics of how Michael and Amelia’s story began. I really enjoyed the sequence of events that led Amelia to stay in Hickory Hollow for the weekend and the life-long lessons she learned there. This book had two major themes that stood out to me – the first being that you need to use your talents for God. When you’re serving Him, there may be tough decisions to make, but if you wait on God, He will give you the desire of your heart in His perfect time. Secondly, it is easy to look at people who grew up in completely different circumstances and think that we don’t have anything in common with them, but that’s not true, as Amelia and Michael demonstrated; people generally have the same feelings and struggles when facing similar trials in life. If we would step outside of the box and listen, we may find that we have a lot more in common with people than we realize!
Conclusion: I would recommend “The Fiddler” to anyone who enjoys Amish Fiction, music and a laid back, sweet romance. This book really gives a different twist to Amish Fiction. I’ve heard folks say, “Once you read one, you’ve read them all.” Well, this book changes that. The combination of events and situations in this story are one you probably won’t find elsewhere in the genre. If you love Amish Fiction and want to read something different, read “The Fiddler!” Originally, the music aspect of this book is what drew me in. I’m a big fan of music and love it when authors use the music industry and/or a character that plays an instrument as a main part of the story. In that area, Lewis did not disappoint! In fact, if you’re like me and don’t read Amish Fiction all the time, I would still recommend this book and think you would enjoy it. The music was the open door that quickly had me delighted with the warm, simple way the Amish characters were portrayed in Amelia’s story. As mentioned before, the book is a sweet romance that can easily be a weekend read. Though there is enough going on in the story to keep you turning the page, I wouldn’t call it suspenseful or fast paced. I’ll also make a special note to those who are familiar with Beverly Lewis’ other books – Lewis brings back some characters from her other series. Remember Daniel Fisher and Katie Lapp? You’ll hear them referred to in the story and I’m sure you’ll be delighted when Amelia meets “The Wise Woman” over a cup of peppermint tea. *wink* Anyway, this is a delightful, clean read that I rate with five stars!
Recommended for: Amish Fiction lovers looking for an Amish story with a different twist and anyone who loves a story built around music – especially the violin/fiddle.
I read the paperback version of this book, published from Bethany House, 323 pages in length.
For Kindle, click here —> The Fiddler
For paperback, click here —> The Fiddler
For Nook, click here —> The Fiddler