Hillary Manton Lodge is an old friend of mine from high school. And Plain Jayne is her first book published. I've been a little nervous about writing this review, not because I didn't love her book (which, incidentally, I did) but because it's a completely different book from what I would normally read.
It's .. Amish fiction. And I don't really get Christian literature. I wonder the need for it at all. Why seperate out your fiction into something religiously orientated? Can someone explain that to me? What I do understand, though, is the re-emerging interest in the Amish culture. It's just such a lovely idea, isn't it? These back to basics ideals with family values in a time where it's more normal for people to catch up via twitter or facebook and families don't eat dinner at the table together. That's my take on it anyway. And I really did love how Hillary (ack. in most reviews I'd probably seperate myself more from the author by referring to her as 'Lodge' but I just can't this time. Not when I can see her face and hear her voice in my head!) was able to balance this story well with humour and wit alongside the Amish values.
Jayne Tate is a reporter for the Oregonian. She's kind of a workaholic. So when her boss forces her into taking some annual leave, instead of taking a break to grieve the recent loss of her father, Jayne instead hightails it to the nearest Amish community nearby, thinking that there could be a possible story. There, she meets Levi Burkholder and his family, learns quite a bit from the Amish, and in the process Jayne is able to come to terms with her own issues with her family and is able to have a clearer idea of what she wants and where her heart belongs.
This really is quite a fun story. I love the little quirks of the characters, from Jayne riding a motorcyle and making quips about Star Trek, to Sara, Levi's little sister who is fashion-mad, to Jayne's best gal-pals. I loved all of the pie baking and quilting. How I wish I had those talents. The issues involving Jayne with her family seemed quite believable and everything about the Amish was fascinating to read about. The religious bits of the novel, while there, are fairly subtle and not at all overbearing, which was a concern of mine before I started reading. The romance aspect of the book is quite sweet and while it is a little gentle for my tastes, you will definitely be rooting for the two characters to get together! The dialogue is quite snappy and Plain Jayne was just such a wonderful reading experience, it puts a big smile on my face whenever I think of it.
I can't wait to read the next book in the series, called Simply Sara which is out later in the year!
Hillary Manton Lodge's website