Old Order Amish Rhoda Byler’s unusual gift and her remarkable abilities to grow herbs and berries have caused many to think her odd. As rumors mount that Rhoda’s “gift” is a detriment to the community, she chooses isolation, spending her time in her fruit garden and on her thriving canning business.
Miles away in Harvest Mills, Samuel King struggles to keep his family’s apple orchard profitable. As the eldest son, Samuel farms with his brothers, the irrepressible Jacob and brash Eli, while his longtime girlfriend Catherine remains hopeful that Samuel will marry her when he feels financially stable.
Meanwhile, Samuel’s younger sister Leah is testing all the boundaries during her rumschpringe, and finds herself far from home in Rhoda’s garden after a night of partying gone badly. But Leah’s poor choices serve as a bridge between Rhoda and the King family when a tragic mistake in the orchard leaves Samuel searching for solutions.
Rhoda’s expertise in canning could be the answer, but she struggles with guilt over the tragic death of her sister and doesn’t trust herself outside her garden walls. As the lines between business, love, and family begin to blur, can Rhoda finally open up to a new life? And what effect will this odd, amazing woman have on the entire King family?
Cindy Woodsmall is a best-selling author of numerous works of fiction and non-fiction book Plain Wisdom whose connection with the Amish community has been featured on ABC Nightline, in the Wall Street Journal, and throughout other Christian and general news outlets. She lives outside of Atlanta with her family.
My book club was first introduced to Cindy Woodsmall when we won the first two volumes in her Sisters of The Quilt series. We not only won her books, but had an author interview with her as well. The hour long telephone chat flew by and her warmth and great writing had us all hooked. We have since read the Ada’s House series. This month we took up book 1 in her newest series, Amish Vines and Orchards. And if A Season for Tending is any indication of the rest of the series, it looks like By The Book will be spending more time in the pages of Woodsmall novels.
A Season for Tending features two Amish communities in Pennsylvania — one rural and one set in a small town. Separated by miles, the two communities share ties of their faith. Rhoda Byler tends a large fruit garden and runs a small canning business from the cramped cellar of her family’s home. She is ridden with guilt over the tragic death of her sister years before, and is harassed by both Amish and English because of her odd intuitions and her use of herbal remedies. The King family of King’s Orchard run a very successful business, but due to a bit of mismanagement by one brother, is in need of some expertise from Rhoda. The reluctant partnership starts well, but acts of man and God will present obstacles that they will struggle to overcome.
Woodsmall writes characters that are complex and true to life. Even though the majority of the characters are part of the remote Amish community, they struggle with the same things as those in the world — self-worth, guilt, pride, jealousy, superstition and prejudice. I found parallels between my own faith tradition and the problems faced by the characters. We are all a little quick to judge and feel ours is the only way to know God.
A Season for Tending is book 1 and leaves a lot of things incomplete. I am anxious to get the next installment, The Winnowing Season due out in April, so I can again lose myself in the pages of this wonderful story.
(I receive A Season for Tending from Waterbrook in return for an honest review. The opinions expressed are mine alone.)