A Springtime Heart
A Springtime Heart is a perfectly sweet romance between two former ‘wild children’ trying to fit back in with the culture of their native communities. The only thing that really holds it back is occasionally dull narrative voice, which often comes off as pedestrian.
The once-rebellious Dorcas Beiler has settled in to life as a respected teacher in her home of Promise Glen, Pennsylvania with both pride and equanimity. At twenty-five, she’s an old maid by the standards of the Amish community, and thinks that life at the Orchard Hill Primary School will make up the entirety of her existence for the rest of her life.
When she learns that Thomas Fisher is back in town, her heart skips a beat. Thomas was once much wilder than even Dorcas, having been arrested at an English party raided by the police in his youth – a party from which Dorcas escaped consequence-free thanks to Thomas. But Thomas was exiled from his family, sent to live with his uncle for years, and is just now returning to the fold at twenty-five, attempting to reacclimatize himself to the rhythms of his own family.
Dorcas readily forgives Thomas, but his family continues to reject his presence, mostly because of his father’s recalcitrance, causing him to remain embittered. Will Thomas and Dorcas find love? Or will his pride and their differences keep them apart?
A Springtime Heart has all of the things an Amish romance reader is likely looking for – traditional values, gentle romance, lessons learned, and families who are human but nonetheless lovable. The book made me appreciate the simplicity of Thomas and Dorcas’ romance while also yearning for both of them to experience more somehow.
Thomas is forever stuck in a struggle with his pride, and sometimes that makes him come off as flat. I did like the way that Dorcas provided a ballast of reason for him, and his relationships with his brothers.
But Dorcas herself, while a smart and kind and intelligent woman, doesn’t have the spark of rebellion in her that he had. Perhaps if she’d bucked more norms, shown she was, deep down, the kind of girl who’d run away to party with the English in her teens, I would’ve found her more interesting. She’s so settled in so many ways, and her growth during the story is minimal. The romance is a sweet meeting of similar people, and much of the interaction between Thomas and Dorcas revolves around the conflict between Thomas and his father, which is portrayed sensitively.
I really liked Adam, Thomas’ brother, who has a twinkle in his eye and a sense of humor. Dorcas’ coterie of female relatives all have spirit and personality, and the children in the story all come off as realistic kids. But I didn’t like the simplistic secondary plot in which another woman in the settlement spreads rumors about Dorcas and Thomas’ relationship. She is the only female character with major negative characteristics, and is two-dimensional in her gossiping.
The characters’ faith is a major part of their lives, naturally; several long scenes take place at church, and their faith guides Thomas and Dorcas along the path to enlightenment and redemption. The style of the book, though, is its biggest flaw, as the story is told simplistically and with competent skill but without much spirit.
But A Springtime Heart is a sweet enough romance, though, to recommend it to any reader who enjoys Amish romance.