Amy Clipston. The Forgotten Recipe: An Amish Heirloom Novel. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2015. See here to buy the book.
I read Amy Clipston’s A Simple Prayer in July (see my review here). I liked it. Although the story was not particularly deep, the prose was very dignified.
What do I mean by “dignified”? That’s a good question. Part of what I like is that Amy Clipston spends a lot of time describing and showing what her characters are thinking and feeling. She drags that out a bit. She usually does not rush through it. Some may find that exhausting or repetitive. It can be repetitive, but I think it works well, overall. I get to savor the good times, and sympathize and empathize with the characters in the bad times.
Something else that I like is that her prose is not mind-numbingly simple. People may disagree with me on that. It’s not as if she uses big words, constructs long and elaborate sentences, or presents a complex plot. Reading her is not like reading Tolstoy or Dostoevsky. On the other hand, at least for me, reading her is also not the same as reading a beach novel.
Then there is the fact that I can identify with her characters. Or I can envision myself feeling the same way that her characters feel, were I in the same situation. In A Simple Prayer, there were characters working through forgiveness issues, a bashful and broken woman who was finding her own strength through a relationship, and a man who was getting tired of being lonely. In The Forgotten Recipe, there was a guy who was shy around the ladies, and a young lady who was trying to move on after the sudden death of her fiance. Clipston captures people’s struggles and vulnerabilities well.
The Forgotten Recipe is the first book of Clipston’s Amish Heirloom series. I started a book yesterday, An Amish Market, in which Clipston contributes one of the novellas. Her novella in that book intersects with the characters and plot of The Forgotten Recipe.
At its basic level, The Forgotten Recipe is about a woman named Veronica, whose fiance Seth suddenly dies at his work-site. Seth’s friend and fellow worker was Jason. Jason sees Veronica at Seth’s wake and wants to meet her and offer his condolences. Veronica is later baking pies as a way to try to move on, and Jason goes to her pie stand. He is a bit tongue-tied, for he is infatuated with Veronica. Jason gets advice from his more outgoing and socially competent little brother, and he develops a rapport with Veronica over such topics as the weather and skipping stones. But, as time passes, he does not tell Veronica that he knew Seth and was there at the time of Seth’s accident. Jason does not know how Veronica will respond, and if that will destroy the relationship.
I do not want to give spoilers, except to say that I had some difficulty identifying with Veronica’s reaction once Jason did tell her his secret. Her reaction is plausible, but I was hoping she would be more fair-minded than that. Overall, the characters in the book get a happy ending, even someone who is spurned, and I like that. Real life does not necessarily work that way, but it can.
The book ends on a mysterious note. Veronica’s mother has blue baby clothes, even though she only had daughters. Why? I guess we’ll need to read the next book to find out!