In the opening pages of Wanda Brunstetter's latest novel about the Amish, Lydia is laid off only a year after the unexpected death of her husband. With no job prospects, she grudgingly agrees to move in with her mother and sick grandfather in another state. But more tragedies quickly befall Lydia and the other residents of Charm, OH. And yet, I felt little sympathy for the characters as I wasn't invested in them. Lydia is far too Pollyanna-ish while her mother is filled with a self-absorbed wretchedness. The one highlight of the novel came when Lydia realized her mom “liked to martyr herself so she’d have something to complain about;” it’s an apt observation. Unfortunately, such moments where someone seemed to want to stop simply accepting things were rare. There was little to distinguish many of the other characters; the boys were interchangeable.
I read for the love story promised by the back cover; it didn't even get underway until Lydia's Charm was more than half over. Although set up as a "who will Lydia choose," the choice was always obvious. Furthermore, the incredibly brief courting in no way made up for the constant heartache. Regardless of whether the scenes should have been filled with smiles or tears, I felt little emotional pull.
Review copy provided by Planned Television Arts.