"Christmas in Apple Ridge" by Cindy Woodsmall is a collection of three novellas taking place in the Amish community of Apple Ridge, Pennsylvania. All three stories, presented in one volume, could easily be read separately but do flow together as you revisit characters from previous stories.
Each novella tells the story of a young Amish woman suffering from the pain of a past broken relationship. The women depicted in each story try to mask this pain from their families by hiding behind their careers. Eventually each character meets up with a new or old love, faces the reality of their past pains and turns a new leaf.
When I first received this book in the mail I was fairly excited. I love Christmas books, and in the past have enjoyed other works of Amish fiction. But this book proved to be a disappointment to me. Each story followed along the same pattern and the depiction of the Amish characters and their lives seemed rather unbelievable to me. There are Mennonite communities, as well as Amish, in the area where I live. Over the years I have known and worked with Mennonite families. I always thought the Amish were more strict in their lifestyle than Mennonites, but the characters presented in this book were not.
A few of the instances that puzzled me: an Amish girl wearing pants, watching T.V. and comparing life feelings with those depicted in movies, text messaging. All of these things surprised me, as well as the personalities of these young ladies. They were all independent career women, in the last story the main character was disrespectful of her father and grandmother. I found this disappointing, especially when you consider how family oriented the Amish are.
With all this said, the Christmas Eve climax of each tale was heartwarming and romantic. It is an easy read, perfect for evenings when you aren't in the mood for anything that is too serious.
You can find more information about Cindy Woodsmall as well as "Christmas in Apple Ridge" HERE.
*I was given a copy of "Christmas in Apple Ridge" by Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.