I picked this book up to read a bit late in the evening and then could not put it down. Not something I typically expect from an Amish novel, but I found myself forsaking any hope of a critical reading as the story was so touching that I just had to know how all of the struggles and complications would work out. I didn’t even care that most of the story takes place in winter, despite any expectations set by the title.
In Bess Weaver, Irvin has created a heroine who has great difficulties thrown at her at a young age. Just 20, she is suddenly a widow with motherhood following close behind. Her once strong faith is tested and her place in her community is threatened as she makes decisions that are not expected of an Amish woman in an attempt to cope with grief and postpartum depression. It is her story that is both touching and thought provoking.
“All my life I’ve believed that Gott’s will is sovereign, not to be questioned. I know suffering is to be expected. Scripture says so. In this world, we will have trouble. Why can’t I accept that Caleb is in a better place and this is where I’m supposed to be? Why is suffering necessary?” (Bess, p.231)
Aidan Graber, who grew up with Bess and her husband, is endearing in his feeling of guilt over his best friends death, his hesitation in pursuing the object of his unrequited love, and his struggles to maintain the farm he inherited from his parents. One of my favorite parts of this story was how not secret, except from Bess, his secret love really is.
“Gott is all knowing… Stop squirming and let Him do his business.” (Aidan, p.230)
The cast of characters is large enough that the author provides a list of “featured families,” but each one is woven into the story in such a natural way (with the exception of an Englischer woman who is quite rude and confrontational with Bess, and whose inclusion in the story felt rather forced) that it had the feel of a real community. At times I almost felt like this was not a first in series.
While there is an interesting array of secondary characters, including a certain Englischer who just might be a rival for Aidan, it is the trio of widows who help guide Bess that had me most intrigued. I do hope they continue beyond this first book in the series, and I have a niggling suspicion they will – particularly as Aidan’s friend Iris is learning midwifery from one of them.
Recommended for those who enjoy a touching, heart-warming Amish story where faith is put to the test by trial after trial, causing more than one character to wonder why bad things happen to good people, and can this really be God’s plan. Keep a few tissues handy, just in case.
Upon a Spring Breeze (An Every Amish Season Novel) by Kelly Irvin | Zondervan, March 2017 | paperback, 336 pages
This review refers to a finished copy I voluntarily received through Thomas Nelson and Zondervan’s Fiction Guild. All opinions expressed are my own.
From the Publisher:
After a devastating winter, a spring breeze promises more than new flowers.… It promises a new chance at love.
Bess Weaver, twenty and expecting her first child, is in the kitchen making stew for her beloved mann, Caleb, one minute, and the next she’s burying him after a tragic accident. Facing life as a young widow, Bess finds comfort only in tending the garden at an Englisch-owned bed and breakfast—even as she doubts that new growth could ever come after such a long winter.
Aidan tries to repress his guilt over his best friend Caleb’s death and his long-standing feelings for Bess by working harder than ever. But as he spends time with the young son his friend left behind, he seems to be growing closer to the boy’s beautiful mother as well.
When a close-knit group of widows in her Amish community step in to help Bess find her way back to hope, she begins to wonder if Gott has a future for her after all. Will she ever believe that life can still hold joy and the possibility of love?