Two years after being married, Annie and Samuel are expecting their first child. They love each other, support each other and enjoy each other. Life is almost perfect. However, Annie’s best friend Leah is struggling in her marriage to Annie’s brother, Adam. She is also pregnant —with twins—, but her pregnancy is not going as smooth as Annie’s. Morning sickness, feeling tired, stressed and being uncomfortable, Leah has inadvertently distanced herself from Adam, and Adam has pulled away from her, too. Then, Leah’s pregnancy takes an unexpected turn, and she is taken to the hospital where she most likely may have to spend the rest of her pregnancy. But Annie will be by her side, and with some time in her hands, Annie may finally get to finish the crib quilt she is making for the twins. And little does she know that making the quilt will be a great blessing in the life of her friend, and that the quilt will have a profound meaning of growth in the Lord.
There’s a nice line in 'The Christmas Quilt' that describes the book perfectly: “[Stories] involve you in another’s life, but our road only intersects theirs for a time.” The story is a sweet peek into the characters’ lives at a slow pace, like taking the panoramic route on a road trip. It makes you stop and think about the details we miss in our daily lives, giving us a lesson in appreciating every small blessing. The author, as always, writes a tender story with a great attention to detail, each scene blending into the next, each situation serving a purpose, adding richly to the story.
As well as in Mrs. Chapman’s other novels, you can immediately see the sweetness of each character, even of those who appear rude and unlikable in the beginning. Annie is so level headed and mature; Samuel is incredibly sweet to her. Leah and Adam, on the other hand, are quick to react, and on the defensive, very much like teenagers in the beginning. But their spiritual and emotional growth throughout the book is fantastic. Although they are all main characters, the book really belongs to Leah and Adam. You see them change, mature and give a wonderful about face in their relationship.
But the secondary characters also grab the spotlight if even for a split second, and here lies my one and only frustration with the story: these characters are so well written, their backstories so intriguing, that they each deserved at least a more satisfying side story. Rachel, uncle Eli, and Reba would have added much more to the story had their stories been explored more. Rachel, in particular, was a wonderfully complex character in her relationship with her children and the people around her. I count her as a great missed opportunity in the book. Each of these characters had great stories of their own that could have made the story and its slow pace much more interesting.
As an Amish fiction, Amish wisdom is expected, and sometimes that predictability can be tiresome, mostly because authors tend to overuse Amish proverbs or make their characters so wise that they seem unreal. But Mrs. Chapman does a great job of showing us wisdom in almost every character in a very organic way. It’s the way they live, the way they face difficult situations, the way they see struggles and God’s hand in everything. Not every book of fiction can say this, but 'The Christmas Quilt' is a great lesson in finding wisdom through our spiritual journey, growing in the fruit of the Spirit.
Also, there are instances of beautiful emotional and spiritual intimacy, such as an incredibly touching moment between Leah and Adam when the two of them became of one mind and heart over the Word of God, that left me speechless. It’s a great story about growing up spiritually and emotionally, showing grace to one another, and trusting God’s timing.
Although this is the second book of the series, the author does a great job of weaving the story interlacing past details with new ones so that you don’t feel lost of left out. But, nevertheless, I highly recommend reading the first book, 'A Simple Amish Christmas'.
4 out of 5 stars
*I received a copy of this book from the publishers through The Christian manifesto in exchange for an honest review.