A light read after my Iris Murdoch readalong book and in the midst of quite a concentrated book about neuroscience and sport, I will say now that I refuse to class things as “guilty pleasures” but I do find myself fascinated by the life of Amish people and enjoying this fairly simple and wholesome genre.

Amy Clipston – “Room on the Porch Swing”

(01 June 2018 – NetGalley)

The novel opens with, as signposted already in the book description, the death of a young, just married woman and new mother. The loss of Savilla eventually throws Laura, her best friend, and Allen, her widower, into closer proximity than some would like, although Laura’s family is supportive, as Savilla’s mother helped them through the loss of Laura’s mother. I loved Laura’s family and the realistic group of siblings. I also liked the way the wider community is portrayed and things like the details of Allen’s buggy repair business. Another well-done point of interest is how the relationships between the men work, with friendship and mutual support paramount, and you can tell a bad’un by the way he backs away from his bereaved friend. Women have their own agency and skills, too.

Some books like this feel they have to load in lots of explanations of everything Amish, which can feel a bit grating and even patronising (I think if you pick up a book like this you’ve probably read others and know at least some of the stuff). This one avoids that, but with a useful glossary in the front, just in case. The Englisher neighbours are there, like the reader, as a benign outside presence, and the story of love developing but gossiped about and forbidden is nicely done in this gentle story with a heart.

This author is quite like Debbie Macomber, in that she draws people, their relationships and their place in their community very well, making an undemanding read a pleasure of a good, reliable quality. I would read more by this author: I think she has a series set in an Amish bakery, which sounds enticing.

Thank you to Zondervan Fiction for making this book available via NetGalley ni return for an honest review.