The Amish Community of Cedar Creek is celebrating a wedding! When Amanda Lambright, widowed with three daughters, marries Wyman Brubaker, a widower with five children, she envisions joining their two households into one big happy family. But it isn't quite that easy...Amanda Weds a Good Man is the third novel I've read by Naomi King (a.k.a. Charlotte Hubbard). And while this particular story goes on about families completely unfamiliar to me up to this point, there are some familiar faces that pop up every now and then which makes reading this feel like home. Do you know what I mean?
Amanda Lambright loves Wyman Brubaker, and after four years as a single mother, she is grateful for his support and for this new chance at happiness as his wife. She's confident that their children will get along just fine. But once Amanda's clan moves into Wyman's home, the tight quarters and Wyman's reluctance to make changes to accommodate Amanda cause friction. The older kids are squabbling. The little ones are frequently in tears. Tiny Alice Ann isn't speaking at all. Amanda and Wyman can't find any privacy. And Amanda wonders if she'll ever have a chance to pursue the pottery making that means so much to her.
Amanda believes that family lies at the center of any well-lived Amish life. Can she find the wisdom to guide the reluctant members of her new extended family toward the love that will bind them together?
Amanda's husband has died. Wyman's wife has, unfortunately, passed as well. It seems that Amanda's family is doing what they can to move on while Wyman's is stuck in a sort of stasis. Wyman is suffering from survivor's guilt and doesn't even seem to realize it. But it's rubbing off on his children as well. When he weds Amanda and she and her children move in to his house it seems that there is little room for them there. The memory of his late wife takes up way too much room. That, and the chaos that seems to reign supreme in the household along with the outright hostility expressed toward Amanda and her children (and even Wyman) by the members of the community Wyman has brought them to, makes everyone absolutely miserable.
Wyman really has to search inside himself and see if what's happening in his house is what's meant to be happening. Sure, the Bishop has told him so, but is following the Bishop at the expense of his family's well-being really worth it? And is the Bishop even right in his instruction?
I can really relate to Amanda. I was married just a month ago and, while my children and I were familiar with the house we were moving in to after the wedding, it was still a lot to get used to. The memories of family members passed hangs in the air and, understandably, sometimes we are reluctant to move on but for the sake of sentimentality. No matter how much you love someone, and how much you want things to be perfect, there can (and will) still be issues at some point.
Poor Amanda. She moved away from the people she knew and loved in to an environment that was neither friendly nor welcoming. She tried. But I could literally feel her frustration and the tension between her and her new husband. She'd been so strong for such a long time and along with her nephew had been able to keep her family afloat. Wyman did not have to struggle as hard to provide for his family and I think, as a result, his children were not as close to him as Amanda's were to her.
He made me angry for much of the first half of the book. I felt bad for Amanda. I sympathized with her and could almost sense the dread building up in her heart at the thought that she'd be expected to submit to a man who didn't seem to have her best interests at heart, despite the fact that he did love her. Someone plants a bug in his ear, though, and gives him a lot to think about as far as the relationship between him and his new wife are concerned.
Now, the relationship between Abby and James... I adored them. The two of them were so completely head over heels for each other that I couldn't help but smile the entire time I read about them. James had such consideration for Abby and the way that she felt, the things that were important to her. And Abby was such an amazingly wonderful person to everyone she came in contact with. The two of them together were an absolutely fantastic pair.
Jerome, Amanda's nephew, was one of my favorites. He was the strong and (somewhat) silent type. He had Amanda's back and was definitely not going to sit idly by while he felt she was being slighted by her new family. He seemed like a happy go lucky guy, although I'm sure he's been through a lot in his life.
Last but not least, where would every great story be without a villain.
The Bishop of Clearwater and his nagging wife were definitely the bane of everyone's existence. They were hypocritical and rude and encouraged everyone to follow in their footsteps while claiming that those who didn't were placing other things at higher importance than their relationship with God, an attitude that had driven several families out of the district already. I could not STAND them and if they'd been real people and standing in front of me speaking to ME the way they spoke to Wyman and Amanda, I would probably have told them off. In the worst way. I honestly don't know how the Brubaker's managed to hold their tongues as well as they did.
The story was wonderful. I like books that make me FEEL things. And I could definitely feel for Amanda. All the hurt and anger and frustration... and on the flip side of the coin... love and adoration and wonderment. Fantastically written.
As with her other novels, I highly recommend this as a read to everyone. Not just those of you who enjoy Amish fiction, but anyone looking for a nice family/feel good read. Luckily, this is the first in the series. I can't wait to see more of what happens for the Brubaker clan.