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Return to the Big Valley–three novellas

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Return to the Big Valley

by Wanda Brunstetter

Consisting of three novellas written by three generations of Brunstetters, Return to the Big Valley is refreshingly gentle fiction set in Amish country. In this case “gentle” does not mean boring or humdrum.

Wilma’s Wish by Wanda Brunstetter is the story of Wilma Hostetler, a twenty-five year old former school teacher currently making quilted items to sell in her friend’s store. She is very much in love with her fiancée Isaac who works construction. Their lives are upended when Isaac’s widowed sister dies leaving five rambunctious children who don’t know how to respond to suddenly being orphaned. Will a single young man be able to take on these children without losing his beloved Wilma? This is a very sweet story; it addresses important themes of commitment, trust, and grieving.

Martha’s Miracle by Jean Brunstetter focuses on a different young couple in Pennsylvania. Martha Yoder’s family moved from Lancaster to Belleville, a smaller Amish community. They own a modest B&B that appeals to tourists. Glen Swarey’s family is also Amish. Neither Martha nor Glen has joined the church yet. Although they are courting, their lives seem to be taking them in different directions. It would take a miracle to remove the obstacles on the pathway to a happy marriage. Martha’s Miracle points out the advantages and disadvantages of both the English and Amish worlds. Its themes include trusting God and seeking His plan for your life, the importance of family, and staying true to your own character and beliefs.

Alma’s Acceptance by Richelle Brunstetter is a story of personal tragedy. Married for almost a year, Alma’s world is shattered when her husband Michael passes away. Devastated, she clears out their house and moves back home. Unable to either settle in or grieve properly, Alma goes from Kentucky to her former hometown in Pennsylvania to get away and to help her friend in her card shop. She quickly reconnects with her childhood friend, Elias. When Alma moved with her parents, neither Elias nor Alma had confessed their romantic feelings to each other. Now they have a second chance, but there are many obstacles including the short amount of time since Michael’s passing, the concerns of their parents, and the necessity of their Amish bishop’s approval. But there is one more challenge that arises that may be the one that separates them forever.

I am not usually fond of novellas because there is just not enough time in that format for character development. All three of these authors did an outstanding job of creating characters with depth and developing interesting plots. I rarely judge novellas to be worthy of five stars, especially when all three are written by different authors, but these ladies have earned the accolades.

I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Christian, General Fiction, Romance

Notes: Three recipes are included which tie into the respective stories.

Publication: June 1, 2021—Barbour Publishing

Memorable Lines:

Wilma didn’t appreciate the reminder that she’d let her pride get in the way of telling Israel the truth. But her fear of rejection held her back more than pride, and she saw no way of getting past that.

“I’m sure in the English world you wouldn’t have to worry much about being a lady whose hobby is hunting…. there aren’t any set rules about women caring for their homes and family as there are in the Amish community.” Lori chimed in. “I would have to say in the Mennonite groups it isn’t as big of a deal either. If a lady hunts, that’s okay. Each of us has different hobbies.”

His eyes were like ocean waves cascading the shoreline as tears threatened to spill over.


8 Comments

  1. I usually don’t like novellas either Linda, but these must be good if you gave them 5 stars!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. WendyW says:

    Wonderful reviews, Linda. I like how you described them; “refreshingly gentle fiction set in Amish country. In this case “gentle” does not mean boring or humdrum.”

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Gretchen says:

    I am not usually a fan of novellas either. I have liked other books Wanda Brunstetter has written and she is an excellent writer. How fun to have a book written by three Brunstetters. Glad you enjoyed this one!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Carla says:

    Excellent review, Linda. I love these authors and have read anthologies by them before. I agree, often a novella does not give enough character development, but I am glad to hear this one does. I am adding it to my TBR after this great review.

    Liked by 1 person

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