Series: Brides of Lancaster County #1
Published by Barbour Pub. on 2006
Genres: Amish, Amish & Mennonite, Fiction, Romance
Miriam Stoltzfus is a young Pennsylvania Amish woman once filled with dreams for a future with a man who jilted her. Now she is known as the old maid schoolteacher with a heart of stone. Could a forbidden romantic friendship with an English newspaper reporter stir the embers of her heart? Or, will she follow the traditional path and settle for a marriage of convenience born out of the sake of a child? Either way, she must find the key to letting go of the bitterness that binds her ability to love.
Note: Kristin reads and reviews both Christian and secular fiction on A Simply Enchanted Life. Out of respect for my readers, I am including a content review. This content review will help you decide whether this book is suitable for you.
Christian or Secular: Christian
Trigger Warnings: None
A Merry Heart is book #1 in the Brides of Lancaster County series by Wanda E. Brunstetter. Other books in the series include Looking for a Miracle: Book #2, Plain, and Fancy: Book #3, The Hope Chest: Book #4.
I have to be honest, I really struggle to like people who are overly bitter. Miriam is one of those people. I’m this way in real life and with my fiction. I totally understand that some people cannot help feeling bitter. As a fairly optimistic person with a positive outlook on life, bitterness just makes me want to smack someone and tell them to snap out of it. I felt that way through much of this book. I wanted to reach into the pages, grab Miriam by the collar and give her a good shake.
This book is based on Proverbs 17:22 which states that A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones. Miriam’s family and friends were constantly pointing this out to her. I get where they were coming from but at the same time, I also feel like maybe Miriam needed to seek professional help. I felt that depression was downplayed. Who pines for an old boyfriend for years after a breakup? Oh, some people do that? Maybe I’m just cold-hearted? I might have cried for a couple of weeks over old boyfriends but then I was okay. Crying for years and condemning yourself to a life as an old maid is not the typical response to a breakup. No, I truly feel that Miriam was already depressed and then tragic events further damaged her spirit.
However, I did love the underlying message of hope in the salvation of Christ. I just don’t want anyone to get the idea that becoming a Christian automatically takes care of every problem. Have I known people who were healed of depression by the Lord? Yes, I absolutely do. But I also know people who still battle and still fight with it.
Overall, I liked the book. Despite the struggle with Miriam, I began to love the story because I fell in love with the secondary characters, Amos, and his daughter. They made this book enjoyable for me. I just wish Miriam had seen their worth as early on as I did.