Through a relative’s slip of the tongue, Lydia discovers that she has living sisters. After her family’s accident in which her parents were killed, the three young sisters were split up, Lydia and her sister Susanna to Amish couples and her youngest sister Chloe to her English, non-Amish grandmother. Since the girls were so young at the time, none of them remembers their parents or early life.
At first supportive of her efforts to find out who and where her sisters are, Lydia’s husband Adam becomes more wary as his wife isn’t content just to get the basic facts about them. Susanna, left with a limp after the accident, has worked with her mother in an Amish gift shop for years before the mother got cancer. Since the woman is dying and Susanna is her sole relative, Lydia decides the time isn’t right to contact Susanna and tell her that she has sisters.
Contacting and speaking to Chloe, the youngest sister, however, becomes Lydia’s priority. But since Lydia doesn’t have contacts in the English world, she persuades Seth – who once left the Amish community and has since returned – to track her sister down, much to her husband Adam’s chagrin. Adam is feeling jealous because Seth was once one of Lydia’s suitors and also because Adam can’t help her locate her sister while Seth can.
When Lydia contacts Chloe, many roadblocks stand in the way of a happy reunion, many of them put in place by their English grandmother’s prejudice against the Amish. The older woman, a scion of Philadelphia society, has decided that the Amish tricked her daughter into joining them and her daughter would be alive if she hadn’t succumbed to their antiquated mode of living.
Perry does a wonderful job chronicling the differences between two sisters who were raised apart but still share blood. In this first book of the series, the English grandmother’s actions aren’t explained quite as much as I would have liked when the viewpoint changes to Chloe’s perspective. When explaining why the woman didn’t want to adopt all the girls and doesn’t want to get to know her other granddaughters now, she says that they were too tainted by their Amishness for her. For a woman who wants to change her past and save her descendants from the Amish, this seems out of character. Shouldn’t she have wanted to adopt them to erase the Amish in them? Hopefully, her viewpoint will be fleshed out in the next few books.
Another strange anomaly is Chloe herself who at first doesn’t seem to be curious about the Amish even though she’s a museum curator specializing in historical Pennsylvania arts and crafts. I would have thought even if she wasn’t excited about getting to know Lydia that she would have been curious and eager to see first hand the quilts and other objects she was collecting for her job. But no, she is strangely apathetic about that aspect of her reunion with her long-lost sister.
Other than these two problems, the story is lovingly told as usual in Perry’s able hands. That she loves the Amish and their culture is readily apparent here as it is in her other books. Lydia, Adam, their children, and the other Amish characters jump to life from her writing as do Chloe and Seth. Perry’s adept at explaining how and why the Amish think as they do, making their actions ring true.
All in all, this is an engrossing basis for a series, and Perry’s fans will love the interplay between the Amish and English worlds.