New York Times bestselling author Beverly Lewis has made a name for herself exploring the lives of Amish women, and in THE PREACHER'S DAUGHTER, the first installment of her Annie's People series, she shows why she's become one of inspirational fiction's queens of the gentle read.
Where does responsibility to family, church, and community give way to an individual's God-given gifts and talents? Lewis explores this question through the character of 20-year-old Annie Zook, the daughter of an Old Order Amish preacher. Annie and her family live in a remote area of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, appropriately called "Paradise" (a real place, by the way). From her earliest years, Annie has loved to draw and paint, but at six, her father shamed her when she drew a black kitten. Since then, Annie has hidden her artwork from her family. She despairs of choosing between her art and her desire to be a dutiful daughter, and doesn't understand why her church has forced her into making this choice. "It annoys me no end that some Amish bishops allow for artistic expression, permitting their people to create and sell art, while our bishop does not."
There's more guilt. Although Annie loves Rudy Esh, she isn't willing to put aside her art, join the church, and marry him. He's moved on to a new sweetheart, and Annie finds herself obliged to be polite to them both, although she still cares for him.
It's impossible to carry a load of guilt like this alone, and Annie's safety valve is her pen-pal relationship of more than a decade with the newly engaged 22-year-old Louisa Stratford, an art teacher who lives in Colorado. Lewis compellingly shows how both women idealize the life of the other. Louisa, who's chafing against her mother's opulent wedding plans for her, finds that "Excessive extravagance had begun to slowly sicken her toward all she had grown accustomed to." Annie is convi