I’ve found that I have a favorite word in Amish novels – boppli. It just reads adorably, which is fitting since it means baby. The three previous Amish Heirloom novels focused on each of three sisters, and The Beloved Hope Chest is framed by the conceit of their mother telling them the story attached to the baby items they had found in her hope chest.
While the synopsis of the book led me to think that the relationship between the mother, Mattie, and her three daughters would be the focus, this is not the case. The majority of the novel is spent telling the tale of how Mattie’s second marriage came about and nearly ended. This story definitely had the potential to be quite heart-warming as Isaiah, her friend since childhood, feels called to be a father to her baby and marries the pregnant widow who he has silently loved for years. But even in the depths of their lowest time, as Mattie loses her baby and sinks further into grief and depression, the story felt like it stayed too close to surface level and I had no opportunity to be truly moved by these characters and their struggles.
An overabundance of minds being thrown back in time during the first five or so chapters set this story off to a bad start for me as a reader and may have colored my entire experience of it. Perhaps if I had read the three novels that lead up to The Beloved Hope Chest I would have felt more invested in the characters and had a completely different reaction. I guess I need to read more by Amy Clipston to see if it was the writing or just me, as I generally do enjoy stories of emotional healing and steadfast love.
That said, if you enjoy Amish fiction and this type of story, then don’t let my lukewarm reaction deter you from giving this a try. But maybe start this start with the first book in the series.
From the Publisher:
When Mattie packed her hope chest, she put away the heartache of her past. But as her daughters begin to unpack it, she discovers a healing more powerful than she ever hoped for.
Mattie Fisher’s three daughters know that she’s been keeping a secret from them. With each item pulled from the beloved family hope chest, they’ve discovered a new clue about their mother’s past.
But there’s a reason Mattie has been keeping her history hidden, and she’s not sure she’s ready to reopen old wounds. Will dredging up the past change the way her children view her? Or her marriage to their father? And can she handle the pain of revisiting the memories that preceded the last few happy decades?
Mattie’s story is one of grief and learning to love again. But like the best things preserved in a hope chest, it’s a story of love and redemption born out of heartache—and it’s past time to share it.
The Beloved Hope Chest (Amish Heirloom #4) by Amy Clipston | Zondervan, May 2017 | paperback, 320 pages
I voluntarily received a finished copy for review through Thomas Nelson and Zondervan’s Fiction Guild. All opinions expressed are my own.