It's a family reunion of sorts in Lewis's newest offering, a story collection in three parts to update her devotees on the progress of the Amish and "fancy Englischer" characters in her previous novels, all held together by the common thread of their Pennsylvania Dutch country setting. "Hickory Hollow" describes Katie and Daniel's wedded bliss (The Heritage of Lancaster County series) and Katie's overtures toward her family and church friends, who have shunned her. We find the characters from The Postcard, Rachel and her husband, Philip (a former "fancy Englischer"), settled into family life in Bird-in-Hand. Philip struggles to gain acceptance from his Amish peers as he helps to fight a fire and tries his hand at a barn raising. In "Grasshopper," we are brought up to speed on Lydia's courtship by Levi (from The Redemption of Sarah Cain). Although the book is touted as "perfect for Lewis fans and new readers," it would be a tough introduction for someone unfamiliar with her work. The dialect—"wonderful-gut," "redding," "perty" and "jah"—can make the reading as slow as molasses for the uninitiated. One wonders why each of these vignettes wasn't a full-fledged sequel; it feels a bit like Lewis threw three unfinished novels into one book. But Lewis fans will be pleased to find the same consistent writing they've come to enjoy, and to catch glimpses of how their favorite characters are faring. (Oct.)
Forecast:Although many critics find Lewis's Amish-themed novels as overly sweet as shoofly pie, her fans are loyal and legion. More than three million copies of her books are now in print. Her followers will enjoy this, jah.