Title: Plain Peace
Author: Beth Wiseman
Published by: Thomas Nelson, November, 2013
Loss. Guilt. Shame. Blame. Judgment. Secrets. Beth Wiseman's latest addition to her Daughters of the Promise series embodies many of life's heaviest issues. Balancing these, the theme of forgiveness runs throughout, especially forgiveness of oneself.
Plain Peace includes a number of characters from the Stoltzfus family whom we have met in other novels, including Seek Me With All Your Heart and The Wonder of Your Love; in this novel, many of them appear directly or only by reference. Lucy Turner, who is not Amish, appears prominently in this novel after her much-maligned involvement in Wonder.
I was glad to see this book arrive, precisely because the storyline continues several subplots of other books by Wiseman. Noah Stoltzfus, who was shunned long ago after his post-baptism decision to leave the church to pursue his education and his calling into medicine, has appeared in more than one novel. His mostly-Amish practice has been declared off-limits to his Amish patients by the new, very strict bishop who has tightened the reins held more loosely by his predecessor. Now, Noah faces the real prospect of having to close his practice and move away.
We learn early in the book that the bishop's own wife, Marianne, keeps many secrets from him, mostly under the guise of her "prayer closet" in the basement. She loves her husband, but his heavy-handed determination to live in strictest adherence to the Ordnung--which he now demands that all members of the community adhere to just as strictly--have driven her to years of quietly, secretly defying him by buying things; pretty, decorative things; some expensive items that she knew she would never be able to use; some useful, but not plain, dishes for the kitchen; jewelry; a cell phone she didn't know how to use and had no way to charge--many, many things worth, collectively, thousands of dollars. But the guilt is getting too heavy for her.
Besides Marianne and her husband; Anne, their granddaughter whom they've raised, and Jacob who loves Anne; Lucy; Noah and Carley; we meet Jacob's family, who struggle, each in her or his own way to cope with the grief of having watched their oldest daughter and sister die.
Defiance, secrets, guilt, depression, shame and judgment do need some romance and some humor in a book that really is not dark, at all, and, yes, romance is most definitely included; it just does not seem to be the principal focus in the book. Wiseman ties it all up with a lot of forgiveness and acceptance, in the end. I found the book most satisfying, and I give it five stars. Is it the last we will see of these characters? I hope not! I can imagine another, perhaps focusing on Anna's friend, Emma. . . .
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.