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About the Book
Book title: Gladden the Heart
Author: Olivia Newport
Release date: July 1, 2017
Genre: Historical Amish
“When you have experienced the Holy Ghost as I have, you would see that it is difficult to turn back.”
When the lively fervor of nineteenth century revivalism endangers the staid customs of the Amish community in the lush but rugged Kishacoquillas Valley of central Pennsylvania in 1847, the Amish church must deal with a divisive question: What is a genuine spiritual experience?
The question turns personal when Susanna’s beloved cousin Noah begins preaching while under trances and even though he is not a minister he gives long sermons that attract increasing attention. Curious, she helps to keep Noah safe during his trances. At the same time Adam, Susanna’s intended, feels pressure from the bishop to speak out against the ways of revivalism.
Susanna and Adam are pushed to opposite sides of a controversy that threatens their traditional Amish faith.. Now they must grapple with whether love is possible…even if they come to different conclusions.
When Noah goes missing at a time of day when he often preaches while asleep, circumstances thrust community members with divergent opinions into a crisis that demands they recognize the humanity they share regardless of beliefs. But can strong-held opinions be softened by the truths that shape their lives?
This story has such a unique storyline, as you can tell from reading the summary. When I first read the summary I was intrigued, especially about Noah preaching while under a trance. This is not something I have ever heard of and couldn’t wait to see how the author presented it. Not only that, but how the Amish community would respond. I know in the Amish communities of today, it is a big deal about who is allowed to preach and who isn’t, and I imagine it would have been the same back then.
The parts with Noah were certainly interesting, but I found myself wanting more out of the storyline as a whole. The part of the book that I enjoyed the most was the revival meeting in the very beginning. I wanted so much for Susanna to go inside that tent and go straight to the alter! The mention of other Amish members being there was almost overlooked at the time. It left me wanting to know more about them, and why they were there. Was Reverend Baxton converting Amish people? So many questions running through my mind, and then suddenly we’re at a different scene in the book.
Now, this is addressed later on in the book to some degree, but I felt it was almost missing something. Or maybe it felt odd to me that a non-Amish minister would have such a connection with some of the members of the community. It wasn’t necessarily because of the author’s writing ability – I think it was simply because the concept was foreign to me and I just couldn’t wrap my head around it. But the more I read, the more I started to understand. As a whole, this book is really about differences in beliefs between the Amish and non-Amish, and how the Amish community reacts when portions of the gospel are presented. And although this is a historical novel, I think the same principles could be applied to today’s society.
Overall it was an okay read. If you’re already a fan of Olivia’s, I know you’ll like it. I’ve read other books by Olivia and enjoyed them, so I know I’ll be reading more from her in the future! I received a complimentary copy of this book. I was not required to write a favorable review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
About the Author
Guest Post from Olivia Newport
Now don’t laugh, but my guess is that if you looked around your church on any given Sunday morning, you’d see somebody sleeping. It might be an infant or toddler whose nap time collides with the worship time resting in a parent’s arms, or it might be a senior citizen who has perfected the art of dozing in an upright position.
What you don’t expect is that the person sleeping will be the preacher.
I’ve always been interested in church history. I even read a magazine called Christian History on a regular basis and consider it pleasure reading. In my ambling through church history, I came across a notation about “sleeping preachers” in the nineteenth century in various denominations, including the Amish. The accounts suggested that individuals who were not ministers would fall unconscious, wake up to preach for lengthy periods, sleep again, and have no recollection of their actions.
Could this possibly be true? Or a giant hoax? What’s a genuine spiritual experience, and what do we do when don’t agree on how to answer that question? Let’s face it, even now, 150 years later, we still don’t quite know what to do with our varying traditions when we don’t agree on how to answer that question.
I knew I had the makings of a story. Gladden the Heart travels back to 1847 and wrestles with these questions. When a divided community faces a life-or-death situation, they must respond to a crisis that challenges them to look past their differences. But can strong-held opinions be softened by the truths that shape their lives?
Gladden the Heart is the fifth story in Olivia Newport’s Amish Turns of Time series of historical Amish novels. Olivia chases joy in Colorado at the foot of the Rockies, where daylilies grow as tall as she is.
July 4: Cafinated Reads
July 5: Book by Book
July 6: Genesis 5020
July 6: A Baker’s Perspective
July 7: Reading Is My SuperPower
July 7: Connie’s History Classroom
July 8: Daysong Reflections
July 9: God’s Little Bookworm
July 9: Inklings and Notions
July 10: A Reader’s Brain
July 10: Zerina Blossom’s Books
July 11: Bibliophile Reviews
July 11: Red Headed Book Lady
July 12: Karen Sue Hadley
July 12: Blogging With Carol
July 13: The Fizzy Pop Collection
July 14: Have A Wonderful Day
July 14: cherylbbookblog
July 15: Bigreadersite
July 15: Carpe Diem
July 16: Splashes of Joy
July 16: The Power of Words
July 17: His Grace is Sufficient
July 17: Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations
To celebrate her tour, Olivia is giving away a Grand Prize that consists of:
All five books in the Amish Turns of Time series (http://www.olivianewport.com/amish-turns-of-time/)
Bonus: All three books in the Valley of Choice series (http://www.olivianewport.com/valley-of-choice/)
$25 Amazon Gift Card!! Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! https://promosimple.com/ps/bc59