by Beth Wiseman
Thomas Nelson, 2008
I picked this novel as one I wanted to read for the Christian Readers Challenge but discovered it will also qualify for the Romance Readers Challenge. It’s the story of a young woman’s search for peace in her heart AND a story about her friendship with a special man and his son who capture another part of her heart.
Lillian Miller was raised by a single mother, Sarah Jane, who ran away from her parents and the Amish community before Lillian was born. Sarah Jane made lots of mistakes in raising Lillian but Lillian feels she has made her own share of mistakes. When Lillian loses her teaching job, she knows it’s time to leave an abusive boyfriend and go visit her grandparents.
Lillian has come to her grandparent’s Amish farm in Lancaster, Pennsylvania for one purpose:
“. . . to find a sense of who I am and my role on this earth. I don’t understand about God, or having a relationship with Him. But I want to understand.”
The story of Lillian’s quest is a natural part of the flow of the story. I don’t care for the Christian novels that preach at me. I like to read about how people handle issues of faith and their relationship to God while still living the rest of their lives. It’s what we all do in real life. In Plain Perfect, the author succeeds in combining the spiritual issues with everything else.
The romance side of the story is sweet but not sappy. I like the characters in this story – the grandparents, Lillian and her mother, Lillian’s love interest, Samuel, and his son, David. There are also a few minor characters that are interesting. I like the romance genre because I know for sure the book will end well. What I really enjoy is how the characters get to the happy ending. There always has to be some kind of conflict between the man and woman. In this case, although they are attracted to each other, Samuel cannot “court” Lillian because she is not a baptized member of the church. But, of course, he really wants to.
If you read romance novels for the same reasons I do, you will like Plain Perfect. In this book you get an additional story about Lillian’s search for peace. There are some extras in this book: first there is a glossary of Amish/Old German terms; second, there are four good-looking recipes in the back, and third there is a set of study group questions. I think this would make a good read for a book group.
As a post-script I’d like to mention that this seems to be a multi-generational book. My mom (in her eighties) absolutely loved this book. She especially liked the role of the grandparents. I (in my sixties) also liked the book. My eldest daughter (in her thirties) now has the book and it will be interesting to see her reaction. It’s good to read a good book we can all share.