Friday, September 21, 2012

When Hope Blossoms by Kim Vogel Sawyer

From the Publisher: Sweet Contemporary Story Set in an Old Order Mennonite Community

Amy Knackstedt moves with her children to Weaverly, Kansas, to escape the speculation surrounding her husband's untimely death.

She hopes the new location will provide a fresh start for them all. But her neighbor, Tim Roper, is not pleased to have a Mennonite family living next to his apple orchard. When the children try to befriend him, he resists. Tim left the Mennonite faith years ago and doesn't want any reminders of his former life. Yet Amy and Tim find their paths colliding far more than either could have foreseen. Will this tentative relationship blossom into something more?

This is not my preferred genre of CBA fiction; however, Vogel Sawyer is a competent writer and I have enjoyed a few of her historicals: most prominently Courting Miss Amsel and A Promise for Spring. Her attention to historical detail in My Heart Remembers and the way she balances characters with individual and multiple narrative threads can be appealing. 

Due to this strength in her writing, she is able to marry the old and the new in When Hope Blossoms.  This is the kind of fiction you take to Nana's house on a Sunday afternoon and place next to the tea cozy and scones.  This is not edgy fiction. Instead, it's a sweet floral garden which exposes facets of the Mennonite tradition with the contemporary world.  Everything is Amish these days and, truth be told, it's nice to have some Mennonite traditions thrown into the mix.  I enjoyed Tim's budding relationship and attention to Amy's precociously sweet children. 

There is something quite tantalizing about a hero attempting to make peace with his Creator after tragedy; but also unwillfully softening to the muted overtures of a second love.  Toss in the fact that this hero is still fighting with his past as a Mennonite and you have a realistic portrait of a man who blames the past for his present and cannot find his way to accept the path that brought him to where he is. 

The clashing of cultures is also an interesting and well-developed thread as Tim Roper encounters the old world tradition of his new neighbour . The promise of a second love and the reconciling of beliefs with personal differences and sudden community makes for an interesting transition from scepticism to love.  A light, lovely story that will amuse readers of Beverly Lewis and Cindy Woodsmall.

My thanks to Graf-Martin Communications for the review copy on behalf of Baker Publishing Group

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