Three years ago, Jessica Bachmann left the Amish way of life and her family because of a clash with her half-brother on how to best utilize their farmland upon their father’s passing. Once in the English world, she begins researching the effects of fracking on the land to learn as much as she can to try to prevent it. When her boss and beau, Tom, gives her the opportunity to write an article on fracking and to interview a local Amish man who claims his wife developed cancer and other health problems because of it, she jumps at the opportunity and is grateful to finally be able to put her knowledge of the subject to use. An unexpected call from her sister, Leisel, informs Jessica that her father struggled with a cough over the winter and eventually passed. Not wanting to miss the funeral, Jessica decides to take a week off of work to travel to her home right in the middle of Amish country in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
Old feelings begin to stir within her as she arrives in Lancaster, both good and bad. She sees her old beau, Silas, talking what she assumes exclusively with another girl and hears that they may be courting and she can’t help but feel a twinge of jealousy and remorse remembering what they were at one time. Several things on the farm remind her of him, including a large oak tree in her family’s yard that they considered “their tree”. During her visit, she also learns, from a piece of paper that was strategically placed by her sister, that her older half-brother is indeed planning on fracking the land. Can her article about the Amish family whose water got contaminated and made them ill from the fracking persuade more people to find ways to make money from their land that doesn’t involve fracking, including her brother and can she cope with the idea of living apart from her childhood upbringing for the rest of her life?
Seeing her confusion, her Aunt Suz decides to tell her a story about a family member, Ruby Bachmann, who lived during the American Revolutionary War. Since the Amish are pacifists, some of Ruby’s brothers and her beau, Paul, travel to find new land in Canada so they are not required to fight in the war or pay the war tax to keep out of the war. Ruby is expected to stay behind with her ailing mother and her brother Zachary and keep guard over the farm while they are away. Going against the Amish beliefs, her brother Zachary feels a pull towards supporting the Patriots’ cause and enlists in the military leaving Ruby and her mother alone. Eventually, their mother passes away and Ruby is left to work on the farm all by herself. Their neighbor, Old Man Wallis, has a nephew who came to help out with his farm and agrees to help Ruby out with her farm until someone returns for her or to sell the land. Duncan is a wounded war veteran himself and they start to hit it off well. When they get word that Zachary is wounded in Valley Forge, Duncan agrees to go with Ruby to bring Zachary home and they agree to let Zachary return when he is better, but instead Duncan tells the general that he will take his place. Ruby and Zachary feel greatly indebted to Duncan. Along the way, Duncan and Ruby realize that they have feelings for one another, but Ruby is torn between being with a man she loves who does not necessarily share her Amish faith, although he believes in God, or to stay with a man she does not love and live in the world she was raised in.
Both Jessica and Ruby have a choice to make, will they choose to be with the one they love or the one they know will provide them security without much love. And when is it that childhood traditions are overridden by what the heart longs for.
A Plain Leaving (The Sisters of Lancaster County, Book 1) by Leslie Gould is a very fascinating story in that it is actually two stories in one; and both stories are excellently written and interesting. Even though it is two stories written into one story, they blend well into the overall storyline and plot of the book. Leslie definitely has a lot of talent being able to create a work like this and managing to keep the stories separate, yet woven together. The stories of Ruby and Jessica will keep the reader turning the page. This is a beautifully written novel that is suitable for any age.
For a preview of the novel or to purchase, please click here.
I received this book free courtesy of Bethany House Publisher’s Blogger Review Program in exchange for an honest review.