The Christmas Quilt by Vannetta Chapman is the newest edition to the "Quilts of Love" series. Even though the novels in this series are written from different authors, the themes are similar as they center around courtship, marriage, friendship and a special, meaningful quilt. In the very first pages we are introduced to Annie and her close friend, on their shared wedding day as they become sisters in law. The two innocent, young girls have high hopes for their lives as they anticipate new life in marriage and starting families of their own. This story, a novel in the "Quilts of Love Series", Where Every Quilt Has a Story- is not only well written, with authentic local details of the peaceful, Amish and Mennonite communities and lifestyle, it is a refreshing piece of modern fiction that focuses on a solid story line leaving out the R- rated language and adult themes that have become so commonplace in most modern fiction and romance novels. Common themes about family, romance and Amish are pretty common themes in contemporary Christian fiction. This book will certainly appeal to fans of Amish fiction- with a twist- the incorporation of a special quilt with a significance that goes beyond the quilt itself. The sprinkling of German in the conversational dialogue of the characters is an added authentic detail that readers will enjoy. This book will likely appeal to those readers who enjoyed Disney movies and fairy tales with beautiful princesses and happy endings as a child. Basically, this novel is like a grown up version of a fairy tale, where truth and honesty prevail- the story is honest and wholesome and the ending is a happy one.
The reader is introduced to the two heroines on their wedding day. Fast forward two years later, into the second chapter, like clockwork, Leah is seven months into a pregnancy and Annie is four and a half months along who spend their naïve, carefree lives together relishing upcoming motherhood. Yet, some unexpected challenges are introduced into their simple, idealistic lives.
One common theme, that is found in many romance novels and Amish fiction, as well, is also found in this book: this story encourages the traditional, antiquated, yet strongly held belief in traditional societies that a woman's self worth and value is based on a man. A woman's happiness is usually tied to a man and if she happens to be single, it is always her choice, (at least temporarily- until she comes to her "senses"). There is always a suitor to provide the heroine with a life of security, whose own life is on hold, as he patiently waits for her approval and acceptance in marriage. Some modern, more educated readers might not appreciate the traditional values and traditional courting themes represented by this storyline.
Anyone who simply loves the significance of handmade quilts, will appreciate this new edition to the Quilts of Love series. There is true socio-cultural insight, as the author delves into the mind on traditional cultures and their perception of family and honor and morals. Most of all, the gospel message of salvation is integrated into the story line. This book shares with the reader important life lessons. Despite the picturesque, peaceful simple Amish setting, life does not always work as expected. Leah experiences complications with her twin pregnancy, pre- eclampsia, premature birth and c-section. Modern life and tradition meet as well as merge. Her tiny babies require oxygen and other interventions in the neonatal unit. Nevertheless, Leah and Annie's maintain their solid faith in God's will and purpose. Despite the protective environment, the Amish community is fertile ground for a strong and deliberate faith as the character's draw on lessons from the bible to persevere even the most difficult challenges and fears. Just as jesus teaches the valuable lesson to become like children- the childlike, pure untainted faith of Leah and Annie shine through even when they don't understand everything. In this complex modern world where many demand answers and control for security, these simple characters teach the reader much about faith and prayer and God's soverignity nature. Chapman's writing is poetic, and the characters are very likable. Their moral personalities compliment each other overall. An added cultural touch is the glossary of German words in the back. This book would be a good choice for any reader who enjoys idealistic, fiction with a purpose. This is a peaceful, relaxing book to read for those who want to escape the pressures of modern life or less than ideal circumstances. As a blogger I received a copy of this book published by Abington Press.