Plain Peace by Beth Wiseman

scoutmomskf's review

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This is a sweet romance complicated by family issues. Anna has been raised by her grandparents since the death of her parents. She loves her grandparents, but she is ready for a family of her own. Unfortunately for her, the young men of the community are afraid of her grandfather, who is the district's super strict bishop. That all changes with the arrival of a new family. Jacob and his family have moved to Paradise to escape the memories of the death of his older sister. Anna's sweetness is just what Jacob needs to bring some light back into his life. But a misunderstanding during their first outing causes the bishop to forbid any further contact between Jacob and Anna.

Anna refuses to let her grandfather stand in her way any longer. She loves him, but she needs to have her own life. Though she knows it is wrong, she continues to see Jacob away from her grandfather's prying eyes. She feels guilty about it but doesn't know what else to do. She tries to get her grandmother, Marianne, to intercede, but that doesn't go so well either.

I liked both Jacob and Anna. They are both good people who are dealing with complications in the best way that they can. The death of Jacob's sister has sent his father into a depression, leaving Jacob feeling responsible for his family. He wants to do the right thing in courting Anna, but the bishop's intransigence makes it difficult. I liked Jacob's patience as he tried to make things right with the bishop. Anna is sweet and kind, but also has the determination she needs to stand up for herself against her grandfather's strict rules. I liked their courtship, with its sunset train watching and stolen lunchtimes. They took the time to get to know each other and share their hopes, dreams, and pain. The culmination of their courtship came about in a rather surprising way.

There were also three secondary stories intertwined throughout the book. First was the relationship between Anna's grandparents. Isaac is very strict in following the Amish rules. Marianne is more relaxed but doesn't stand up to him, even when she thinks he is unreasonable. Over the years she has found an unusual way to exert control over her life, one that she has kept secret from her husband. That secret gets a little out of hand, and it takes a health crisis on her part to bring her secret out in the open. I enjoyed his reaction and seeing Marianne use her new influence to help soften his outlook.

The second was the story of Jacob's family, especially his parents, who are dealing with the death of their oldest daughter. Jacob's father has pretty much checked out of participation in the family. He gets up, does his farm work, and goes to bed. He doesn't interact with any of the family beyond the basics. His wife, Cora, gets more frustrated with him by the day. She slowly makes friends with Marianne and with the Englisch girl, Lucy. But there are things about Lucy that bring up ghosts from Cora's past, causing Cora to have to face her own pain. Unexpected news brings confrontation and finally healing to the family.

The third was the story of Lucy, a young woman who is something of an outcast in the community. She made the mistake of having an affair with a married Amish man and gave birth to his son. The man died, and Lucy has been trying to put her life back together. Ashamed of her previous actions, she has resolved to be a better person. I liked seeing her make friends with Cora and Marianne and the effect their friendship had on her. I also liked seeing the family of her former lover reach out to her. I also ached for her and the deterioration of her relationship with her mother.

Overall a good story of love, family, and forgiveness.

jazzyjan94's review

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Plain Peace was another good installment in the Daughters of the Promise series, although it was confusing to keep track of what had happened in this community since the last book (even though each book can be read as stand-alones, they are also connected to one another). After about 50 pages it becomes clear that there have been some major changes in the community, but there were also a few characters that were front-and-center in the last two books (Plain Paradise and Plain Proposal) aren’t mentioned at all – almost as if they didn’t exist because their families are mentioned. I don’t know the full reason for it, but I would’ve loved an update on how Linda and Stephan were doing, as well as Miriam and Saul. For instance, did Linda and Stephan end up getting married? Do they have any children yet? What did Miriam and Saul name their baby? Are they still coping with life in the English world? These are all questions I have that I felt like could have been easily answered, especially since we get a brief description of past events with other characters such as Samuel, Lillian, Noah and Carley, etc. But I get it, there probably wasn’t enough time in these books, but it still would’ve been nice to find out what happened to them.

Plain Peace follows Anna Byler who’s grandfather has recently become the bishop in their district and he is a lot stricter than Bishop Ebersol. He’s even made it hard for Anna to enjoy her Rumshpringe and has instilled fear in all the eligible Amish bachelors from even asking her out on a date. But things soon change when newcomer Jacob Hostetler seems take an interest in her. However, they must both go up against her grandfather, who is not only legalistic when it comes to ruling the community, but also extremely overprotective over his granddaughter. While trying to find away to convince the bishop to allow him to court Anna, Jacob and his family are also dealing with the grief of losing his older sister, Leah, which is part of the reason why they left Middlefield, Ohio and moved to Paradise.

While the main plot seems to be focused on Anna and Jacob’s relationship, it seems to take a back seat to the plot following Jacob’s mother, Cora, Anna’s grandmother, Marianne, and an Englisher, Lucy Turner. Let’s start with Marianne, Anna’s grandmother (Mammi), she loves both her husband and her granddaughter, but she is keeping a secret from her husband, one that could make him angry and upset if he ever found out. However, Anna is determined to never have a marriage like her grandparents’ where she would be forced to hide secrets from her husband. She befriends Cora Hostetler when she needs help learning how to work her new cell phone, and strikes up a friendship with the grieving mother who is trying to put on a brave face for her children, but also has to deal with a husband who continues to be distant ever since the death of their daughter. And eventually, both women become friends with Lucy Turner, a single mother who is trying to take care of her son, and her ailing mother, while trying to turn her life around after making some grave mistakes in the past. However, many in the Amish community refuse to associate with her because she was the mistress of a man in their community, who left his wife to be with his mistress. After his death, Lucy is alone and desperately longs to find peace and faith in God after the life she had previously lived. Both Cora and Marianne extend the hand of friendship, but eventually they will learn of her dark past.

I also found Bishop Byler to be unreasonable, he refuses to listen to his granddaughter’s explanations for some of her actions, which then forces her to take action and sneak around behind his back. However, I do like that eventually he comes around and starts to soften in his ruling over the community. Jacob was also a great character because he constantly tried to push Anna to be honest with her grandfather, even if he was strict, instead of sneaking around to be with him. In fact there were several times during the novel that Anna does sneak around and Jacob gently tells her that what she is doing is wrong, even if he does want to spend time with her.

The series ends on a happy note, but again, even though these books can be read as stand-alones, I do recommend that they are read in order. I also think it would’ve been helpful if I had read the Land of Canaan series in conjunction with the last two books in this series, because there was quite a bit of overlap between them. The overlap isn’t major, but it still would’ve been helpful especially before reading Plain Peace, because there are some characters at least from the first two books that are mentioned in this book, and it also spoils at least the first two books in that series.

Overall, Plain Peace was another delightful read from Beth Wiseman, and as I’ve mentioned before I’m looking forward to picking up the Land of Canaan series very soon, as well as some of her other works. I hope that there will be more books by Beth Wiseman set in Paradise and revisit some of these characters in the future. 3.5/5 Stars.

Before I wrap up this review I want to give a shout-out to my amazing fiance who bought a copy of this book for me because he knew I was enjoying the series. Thank you for being supportive of me!

pixieauthoress's review against another edition

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Anna Byler doesn’t have any doubts about settling down in the Amish community in which she was raised, but she’s having trouble finding someone to spend the rest of her life with. It isn’t as if there aren’t any eligible Amish men around, but rather that they’re all too scared of her grandfather, the Bishop, to take a chance at courting her. Anna’s grandparents took her into their home when her parents died in a car accident many years earlier, and Anna loves them dearly. She knows that her grandfather is strict, but she’s certain that he only has the community’s best interests at heart. When newcomer Jacob Hostetler expresses an interest in Anna, she’s hopeful that he’ll meet her grandfather’s approval. But if he doesn’t, will Anna risk her grandfather’s wrath and continue to see Jacob in secret? Will his views on her choice in a beau force Anna to realise just how rigid and legalistic her grandfather has become?

Marianne, Anna’s grandmother, might appear to adhere to her husband’s strict rules, but she has some secrets of her own. She doesn’t agree with all of Isaac’s guidelines for how his community members should behave, particularly his belief that she should seek herbal remedies for her diabetes, rather than visiting the shunned formerly Amish doctor. She also has several forbidden items in her home, hidden away in the basement where only she can enjoy them. She doesn’t believe there’s anything wrong with these simple pleasures—after all, they’re not hurting anyone—but it will take the help of two unlikely friends to make her realise when her secrets have gone too far. Despite her husband’s disapproval, Marianne befriends Jacob’s mother, Cora, who is still reeling from the loss of her eldest daughter, and Lucy, an English woman who had a child with a married Amish man. This unlikely group of women will come to help each other through the hard times ahead.

I’ve become a big fan of Beth Wiseman over the past couple of years—both her Amish and contemporary novels—so I was pleasantly surprised when I heard that she was releasing a sixth novel in her Daughters of the Promise series. I adored the first three books in this series, and while the last two hadn’t made my favourite’s list, they were still very enjoyable. Plain Peace fits into the latter category, alongside Plain Paradise and Plain Proposal. I’ve been trying to put my finger on why these last three books in the series haven’t completely wowed me, and I think it’s the age of the protagonists. All three heroines have been young adults still living at home with their parents, and given that I moved away from home right after my eighteenth birthday, I struggled to relate to their conflicts and the way that they deferred to their parents despite being of an age to make their own decisions. The protagonists from the first three books in the series were more mature and had more compelling struggles, in my opinion. That said, the secondary characters in Plain Peace definitely made up for Anna and Jacob’s immaturity.

Although it had been two years since I read one of the Daughters of the Promise novels, it didn’t take me long to remember some of the familiar faces who popped up in Plain Peace. And if you are struggling to remember who some of the characters are, there’s a handy family tree at the start of the novel to refresh your memory. I was particularly pleased with the reappearance of Lucy, who I recalled from the Land of Canaan series in addition to this one. Be warned, there are spoilers ahead if you haven’t read previous books in this series! Lucy had an affair with an Amish man and got pregnant with his child shortly before he died. Unbeknownst to her and her lover, his estranged wife was also expecting a baby. Lucy has been left to raise her child on her own, and as we discover in Plain Peace, she’s also caring for her elderly mother, who is recovering from a stroke. I was pleased with the way in which Beth brought Lucy into her own in this novel, making her into a relatable, human character, rather than a mysterious, adulterous figure. Honestly, I think Lucy ended up being one of my favourite characters in this novel. I also appreciated the way in which Beth dealt with Lucy’s mother’s personality change following her stroke. Given that my father-in-law had a stroke a few years ago, I felt that Beth dealt with the situation realistically and sensitively.

Marianne and Cora’s issues are dealt with in a similarly gentle and understandable manner. I’m still not entirely sure if I believe that the extend of Marianne’s secret hoarding is entirely believable, but it definitely brought up some interesting questions about how healthy a marriage is when you start hiding simple things from each other, and can’t share the things that truly bring you happiness. Even if Marianne isn’t entirely happy at home, she ends up mentoring Cora and Lucy, and helps them to reconcile some issues in their lives. Cora’s story was rather heart-breaking—having relocated her family after her eldest daughter’s sudden death, but finding that her husband was still withdrawing from his wife and children. Her story isn’t entirely wrapped up by the end of the novel, which I appreciated as the extend of the depression her husband was clearly suffering from isn’t something that can be fixed overnight. As always, Beth does an excellent job is presenting the Amish in a relatable, human way—full of flaws and similar struggles to ourselves.

Although my favourite part of this novel was the friendship the three older women shared, I won’t deny that Anna and Jacob’s romance is sweet. Anna’s conflict with her grandfather is probably pretty accurate for a young girl growing up in a strict, patriarchal home. But it is the only real conflict keeping her and Jacob apart, and I never really had any doubt that they’d end up together. I did enjoy the start of their story where Anna initially decides to ignore her grandfather’s rules and see Jacob in secret, and the internal turmoil she has over being a rule-breaker when really, she just wants to settle down and join the Amish faith. Aside from that, their romance was pretty standard, and maybe just a little bit too mundane for my taste. I wanted more conflict, and more insight into Anna and Jacob’s personality. As much as I felt that I got to know Marianne, Cora and Lucy over the course of the novel, Anna and Jacob still felt a little underdeveloped.

Although I struggled to relate to Anna and Jacob, the other characters in Plain Peace provided compelling conflicts and insights into the humanity and flawed nature of Amish and English alike. As with her previous novels, Beth Wiseman’s writing provides a much needed reminder that the Amish have personal struggles and familiar conflicts, just like ourselves.

Review title provided by Thomas Nelson.

booksforchristiangirls's review

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This is a mini ‘Books For Christian Girls’ review. It is not a full content review and will not receive one. These mini-reviews are years old and just for clarity on the rating the book received on Goodreads.

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Main Content-
*Lucy gets reminded by her mother often that she slept with a married man; Touches, Embraces, & Noticing (barely-above-not-detailed); a 'whore' and a 'bastard'; Love, falling in love, & the emotions.

jbenando's review against another edition

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What a fabulous book!! Not sure if it's the end of the series or not, but if it is, it was the perfect ending. I loved seeing many of the previous characters come back also.

I love watching the sweet romance blossom. It makes my heart go all fluttery.