In a community where conformity flourishes, seeds of Rhoda’s odd behavior were planted long ago. Can she cultivate her relationships with the same care and tenderness that she gives her beloved garden?
Old Order Amish Rhoda Byler’s unusual gift and her remarkable abilities to grow herbs and berries have caused many to think her odd. As rumors mount that Rhoda’s “gift” is a detriment to the community, she chooses isolation, spending her time in her fruit garden and on her thriving canning business.
Miles away in Harvest Mills, Samuel King struggles to keep his family’s apple orchard profitable. As the eldest son, Samuel farms with his brothers, the irrepressible Jacob and brash Eli, while his longtime girlfriend Catherine remains hopeful that Samuel will marry her when he feels financially stable.
Meanwhile, Samuel’s younger sister Leah is testing all the boundaries during her rumschpringe, and finds herself far from home in Rhoda’s garden after a night of partying gone badly. But Leah’s poor choices serve as a bridge between Rhoda and the King family when a tragic mistake in the orchard leaves Samuel searching for solutions.
Rhoda’s expertise in canning could be the answer, but she struggles with guilt over the tragic death of her sister and doesn’t trust herself outside her garden walls. As the lines between business, love, and family begin to blur, can Rhoda finally open up to a new life? And what effect will this odd, amazing woman have on the entire King family?
Cindy Woodsmall has written half a dozen Amish novels and I’ve previously reviewed two of them on my blog. A Season for Tending is her newest offering and the first in the Amish Vines and Orchards trilogy. As always, while Woodsmall focuses on two characters she also gives us insights into their family and friends so that we get that sense of community. The plot, however, is a little different. We’re used to the Amish being involved in quilting, retail, farming and carpentry. The apple orchard concept was one I’d not come across before and I enjoyed learning about a family run apple orchard business. The King orchard is an organic enterprise, so when disaster strikes they can’t turn to readily available fixes.
Rhoda has what we might call a “sixth sense.” She knows when something bad is about to happen and can often describe the event in ways that unnerve both Amish and Englisch in the local area. This supernatural concept is something I had trouble with, but it helps move the plot along. Samuel is hardheaded, and I didn’t like his girlfriend, Catherine. What’s interesting here is that in this book, due to Catherine’s existence, there is no romance between the two lead characters. Rhoda develops a good relationship with Samuel’s brother, Jacob, but he has secrets of his own. While I liked Jacob, I found his parts of the story confusing. What happened to him while he was out in the world? We get hints, but I hope the other two books in the series will explain everything.
A Season for Tending is available now. The next book in the series, The Winnowing Season, should be available in April 2013.
Publisher: Waterbrook Press
Publication Date: 18 September 2012
Page Count: 352
Thank you to Waterbrook Multnomah’s Blogging for Books program for my free copy of A Season for Tending, which I received in exchange for an honest review.