Book Review | The Angel of Forest Hill
Title: The Angel of Forest Hill by Cindy Woodsmall
Genres: Fiction, Christian/Amish, Romance, Christmas
Published by: WaterBrook (Oct. 4, 2016)
A time of anticipation. A season of miracles.
Because of Joel s impossible situation, twenty-one-year-old Rose must sacrifice everything. As days pass into years in the midst of the beautiful hills, the laughter of children, and God s providence is it too much for Rose to hope for love in return?
An amazing journey toward love and belonging, filled with the wonder of the season of Christ s birth.
When Old Order Amish Rose Kurtz is asked to leave her family, travel deep into West Virginia, and help Joel Dienner with his children in the wake of tragedy, the quiet young woman recognizes a home where she might find kindness instead of criticism and hope replacing harsh words. She agrees to stay in Forest Hill and become Joel s wife for the sake of his family needs, but their marriage is to be a partnership, one built from need, not love and affection.
As the years pass, Rose continues to beckon Joel to join life again, to take joy in his growing children, and to awaken his heart to the possibility of new love. Joel hopes that Rose can move beyond deep-rooted hurts to see the beautiful Christmas ahead, their season. But will the arrival of a beautiful widow and a series of misunderstandings reverse how far Rose and Joel have come?
What I Thought
*I received this book in exchange for an honest review through Blogging for Books. A huge thank you to them, as well as Netgalley and WaterBrook & Multnomah.*
Amish culture has always intrigued me. I find their way of life so fascinating, and so when I saw this book, I was instantly interested. Also, it features an absolutely gorgeous cover that really put me into the Christmas spirit!
Despite my intrigue with the Amish, this is only the second Amish book that I’ve read. Also, while I’ve visited Amish Country several times, I admit that I am not an expert, so I am unsure how accurate of a portrayal this book actually is to their lifestyle. That being said, I really enjoyed this book.
The story was paced very nicely. I really loved that the backstory that explained why Rose married Joel so suddenly, and their life the first few years, was allowed to really be explored and explained in a way that was not rushed or thrown together so the the reader could get to the main story. Rose’s past was so heart-wrenching as well, and it was written in a way that, despite her Amish upbringing, could be very relatable to many.
My favorite part of this novel would probably have to be Rose’s character development. I loved being able to actually see her growth and ability to learn to stick up for herself and what was important to her. I also really appreciated the respect Joel had for his wife. The Amish (as well as many evangelical Christians), believe the man to be the “head of the household,” and far too often that title is used in a way that is distorted, misconstrued, and used in an unbiblical way that allows a father or husband to boss around and manipulate his family. In this book, while Joel is the “head of the household,” the respect, and the desire to please Rose, as well as her individuality and happiness were very high on his priorities list. Their relationship, while unconventional (and honestly, extremely unhealthy in the beginning – nobody should get married after a week of knowing each other, especially if its only to raise your children at first), really grew on me.
The fact that Rose had an ‘Englisch,’ non-Amish, friend was really nice, too. She was allowed to share her experiences, joys, and disappointments with an outsider’s opinion. I found it really helped her to grow as an individual, instead of relying solely other Amish folk.
I also found it really interesting to read about how they celebrate Christmas. While still highly anticipated and celebrated, it is done in a much simpler way. The minimal decorations and lack of holiday movies and music is quite a stark contrast to how I celebrate.
Overall, this was a quick and enjoyable book. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a short, romantic story, or to anyone who enjoys Amish fiction.
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