BookReview Meek and Mild by Olivia Newport

BookReview Meek and Mild by Olivia NewportClara Kuhn and Andrew Raber are members of the Old Order Amish in Pennsylvania. They do not agree with Bishop Yoder and his ways. Clara has family that are Amish Mennonites who live a few miles away in Maryland and she is not permitted to visit them because of their shunning being enforced. One of the family members is her cousin Fannie Esh, she is too dear to Clara to never see again. Fannie is struggling with
problems of her own. She has a 4 year old daughter but longs for another child. So much so that she is depressed. When someone close to her becomes pregnant she must deal with what seems so very unfair to her.

Clara’s parents are hoping that she will marry soon. In order to “push” Clara out of the house, her father and stepmother relinquish her of all jobs around the house and farm. I’m not sure that this could realistically happen. Andrew wants nothing more than to marry Clara. If she can get over a certain fear she will be able love Andrew the way her heart knows she can. But for now Clara keeps turning down Andrew’s offer of marriage. As the story progresses we discover why and see God providing many ways for Clara to overcome this fear. By the story’s end Clara meets her fear face to face and decides if she will keep living with it or let it go because God is ultimately in control of her life.

The split of the Amish church is used as a backdrop for Meek and Mild. The division is caused by people being legalistic and following God out of religious duty not because they love him with all the heart, soul, body and mind. No matter what our religious affiliation we need to not get so caught up in our religious duties that we miss God and all he has for us. Lonny Yoder is a perfect character to show what the legalism and being religious does to a person. He refuses to help people because it goes against the laws of the church. But what about what God says on the matter, to love your neighbor? This book leaves us to question if we speak and act out of religious duty or because God is living in our hearts and directing us in our words and actions.

When I started reading Meek and Mild I didn’t realize that it dealt with the actual historical split of the Amish church. At the beginning of this story the Amish had broke into The Old Order Amish and the Amish Mennonites. The Old Order church members were forced to shun those who were the Amish Mennonites, although it ended up being very lax. The bulk of the story takes place with Bishop Yoder trying to enforce the shunning to its fullest extent. This causes yet another division and the Beachy Amish are born.

This novel goes deeper than the history of the Amish. It deals with so many issues. Clara’s perception of a certain subject caused her great fear. She only looked at it in one way and left God’s will out of it. Fannie had to deal with depression, jealousy, and anger. We see how it affected all of her family, not just herself. Andrew stood up for what he believed God was telling to do. God used him to help others because if this. Lonny made me realize how easy it is to think that we are serving God but really aren’t.

“Each man will have to seek his own conscience” was repeated throughout the story. Andrew and Clara got into trouble for going to help Fannie. I’m not sure if any Amish will read Meek and Mild but those who are Old Order Amish may not care for this story, as they are portrayed in a negative manner. I know I was rooting for those who went against the Old Order ways and refused to shun those who left the church to live and/or attend the Maryland congregation. The characters in this story talk a lot about the bible. They discuss the meaning of several bible verses throughout the book. They are also Amish proverbs sprinkled throughout the story. So many bible verses may turn off those who don’t read or care about what the bible has to say.
This is the first book I have read by Olivia Newport. It is part of The Amish Turns of Time series which shows the turning points in the history of the Amish. At the end of the book the author cites articles that she read to be able to represent the Yoder ministers and Mose Beachy accurately during this period of change. She also said that she did take liberty with the time frame.

Meek and Mild is enjoyable and simple to read. Olivia Newport made it easy to like certain characters, like Clara and Andrew. Others were very easy not to care about, like the Bishop Yoder and Lonny. This is a typical Amish Fiction Romance where you hope the guy and the girl work out their differences and get together. There are no plot twists or big reveals, but near the end there is a very tense scene that had me on the edge of my seat. All this doesn’t make it undesirable to read, I didn’t want to put it down.. Clara was a caring person and I found myself hoping for her finally say yes to Andrew’s marriage proposal. I kept wishing to read about Fannie having another child. I wanted the church members to stand up to the Bishop and follow God the way they believed they we supposed to. Fans of Historical Fiction and Amish Romance/Fiction will enjoy this clean read that has interesting characters and gives some insight into the historical facts about the split of the Amish church.

tammycookblogsbooks book rating 4.5/5
  I give this a rating of 4.5 books

Amish Turns of Time Series 
Wonderful Lonesome
Meek and Mild - read my review here

I received a free copy of this book from Shiloh Run Press in exchange for my honest review.

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