I have never really sought out novels written about the Amish and Mennonite communities but I was completely charmed by Kim Vogel Sawyer’s latest release, Bygones .
The storyline is familiar with Marie Koeppler leaving her Mennonite community some twenty years previously running away to marry trucker, Jep Quinn. When Jep is tragically killed Marie seeks the support of her family as she is alone with her newborn daughter, Beth. JD Koeppler turns his distraught daughter and grandchild away. Marie vows never to return.
Beth is now a headstrong young women seeking her way in the world when Henry Braun, the Mennonite man who fell in love with Marie when they were teenagers, comes to tell them of the passing of Marie’s beloved Aunt Lisbeth and the unusual conditions of her will. In order for Beth to inherit her home and cafe, she must return to the Mennonite community of Sommerfeld and live in Aunt Lisbeth’s home for three months. Marie acquiesces to Beth’s plea to join her and the unfolding events will change them both forever.
Kim Vogel Sawyer’s story has great depth and impacted me on many levels. It is a powerful story of forgiveness, the desire to belong and the pain of fractured relationships. Marie and Beth are characterised beautifully and Henry’s devotion to Marie is heartfelt and in keeping with his character. The family dynamics between mother and daughter, and Marie’s Mennonite family were so well described that I felt Marie’s discomfort, Beth’s frustration and Lisbeth’s hope.
A dash of mystery enhances the story and makes Bygones an engrossing and thought-provoking read. I will be interested to read the remaining books in this new trilogy. Bygones will be released (USA) in April, 2007 by Barbour.