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on September 29, 2010
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
A novella by Amy Clipston-A Plain & Simple Christmas is a warm-hearted,sweetly told story of an Amish family dealing with family problems at Christmas time.
The story begins with Anna Mae-who left her Amish family to marry an Englisher years before -yearning to spend time with her family at Christmas. Because of being shunned , the only contact she has had with her family is sending cards at Christmas. Alhough she loves her devout Christian husband ,Kellan, and is happy with her decision to marry him and move to Baltimore, there is a hole in her heart for family in Lancaster, PA. Her feelings are more acute because she is carrying her first child, and wants her child to know her family.
Anna Mae decides to write her sister-in-law Kathryn to see if she can help arrange for her to visit home. Despite knowing the problems such a visit would cause with Anna's father & her own husband, Kathryn believes it is God's will that the family should reconcile. A trip is arranged.
The story of the trip is well told . It is full of ups and downs and various twists and turns. I enjoyed the strong characters and the scenes of an Amish Christmas. I thought that how the characters dealt with one another, their families' problems and their faith was very inspiring.
I enjoyed reading this book very much & was often moved by what I read! I strongly recommend this book!
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VINE VOICEon January 1, 2011
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Anna Mae grew up Amish but was shunned when she left to marry outside the faith. Though she lives a Christian life with her new husband and is happy, she misses her family terribly and wants to visit them--especially as she is carrying her first child. So she writes to her sister-in-law Katherine for help arranging a visit. Anna Mae's brother, David, is opposed to the visit on the grounds that it will upset his and Anna Mae's father, a bishop. However, the plans go ahead over his wishes when Katherine arranges the visit.

That's the set-up for "A Plain and Simple Christmas," and that's pretty much the story. The rest you can fill in for yourself since there are no real surprises. I can see from the reviews that the majority of people liked the story, and I think that's wonderful. But it did not work all that well for me, and there are a few reasons why. To begin with, it seems to me that the Amish do not come across as, well, fully Amish. I am certainly no expert, but the novella sets up the premise that the men typically run the show and the women obey. Every important plot element, though, depends on the opposite, whether (as I noted in the plot summary), it is women disobeying their husbands directly or going against what they believe the men will want. To make it clear, I am not arguing that women should be subservient to men. I am, however, saying that the premise of the story and the actions of the characters did not ring true for me.

Still, this is a Christmas story of redemption and love, and there is always a tug at the heartstrings from such stories. I just found this one somewhat muted. Your mileage, though, may well vary.
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VINE VOICEon December 8, 2010
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Anna Mae McDonough is happily expecting a baby with her husband Kellan. Though excited at the impending birth of her first child, Anna Mae misses her family. They are Amish and unfortunately they have been forced to shun Anna Mae from their homes and hearts. However, when Anna Mae concocts a letter to her sister-in-law, Kathryn, pleading to come at Christmas and make peace, Kathryn cannot resist. Both know the father, Henry, a local bishop for the Amish in his county, will not be happy to see his daughter who wed a "stranger."

When Anna Mae and Kellan arrive at her family home only Kathryn's family welcomes her with open arms. The others are tentative and the father refuses to forgive despite that it is Christmas.

Will the birth of a baby bring about a miracle for this Amish family as it did for all Christian's years ago? This lovely book speaks to family love, fortitude, and forgiveness.

Sweet holiday read!
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on December 30, 2011
Overall: 4.75 stars

Plot/Storyline: 5 stars
In Clipston's character-driven stories, the predictable plot grips the reader not because it is new or surprising (it isn't), but because the characters are so likable the reader can't wait to find out what happens next. Although there were no real inconsistencies, there were a few very convenient coincidences, and the ending strained the reader's credulity just a little. This is not part of the Kaufmann Amish Bakery series but uses the same location and some of the same characters.

Characters: 4.75 stars
The major characters are exceptionally believable and likable. Anna Mae's loneliness for her family shines through her love for her husband. Kellan is a great Christian non-Amish character. Kathryn's independent spirit and generous heart are a spark-striking counterpoint to David's devotion to and understanding of his father Henry. Although most of the book consists of getting Anna Mae and Henry together, Henry only appears in a few scenes and seems more of a stock "stern unforgiving father" character than a real person. But it's a strong pleasure to read about families that love each other and enjoy each other's company.

Writing style: 4.75 stars
Sentence structure is fine. Dialogue sounds authentic and reflects each character. Descriptions were adequate but not as strong as the great characterization.
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on April 29, 2016
I enjoy Amish books and this one was such a good lesson on forgiveness .
The characters were solid and it was a well written book.
While it has a Christmas theme, it would be enjoyable any time .
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on August 22, 2015
I always love my "visits" to the Kauffman Amish Bakery. You see a lot of familiar faces and check in on characters you have gotten to know.
I enjoyed getting a chance to read this story. As I said, visiting familiar characters is always fun and the book was a quick and easy read (I'm a fast reader and had it done in a day but it's a quick weekend or holiday read if you can wait that long;) )

Anna Mae wants nothing more than to be part of her family again. She is having a baby and wants to make piece and mend the broken bond. She enlists her sister in laws help to make that happen. Kathryn spends time praying and believes that God is leading her to help with the reconciliation.

I don't want to spoil the book and give everything away but things don't always go the way the characters want. Anna Mae's father is stubborn and not all the members of the family are ready to welcome her back with open arms. The story kept me guessing as to what was going to happen and I was cheering Anna Mae on the whole book.

The story was full of life and I loved the interactions between the feisty Kathryn and her family. The message of listening to God and forgiveness echoed through the book. A great holiday (or August) read. Pick up your copy today and Happy Reading!
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on November 17, 2010
Anna Mae Beiler was shunned from her family when she married 'Englisher' Kellen McDonough three years ago. Although not Amish he is a good Christian man and they have made a good life for themselves. Anna finds herself wanting to reconcile with her family and thinks Christmas is a good time to do just that! Kellen agrees to take her home. But, when the visit doesn't go as planned she wonders if she will ever have a place in her family again.

Let me start by saying that Amish fiction isn't what I usually read but wanted to give this little story a try. Boy am I glad I did!! I really liked it! Novellas can sometimes feel too short but not so with this story. It didn't feel hurried at all. It was a very satisfying. The characters were so full of life. I enjoyed watching them work through some tough family issues in a practical way. I loved the interaction between Kellen and Anna Mae. Many times I found myself thinking that Anna Mae was certainly a lucky woman. The message of listening to the Lord and forgiving others was very clear. If you are looking for a wonderful and inspiring Christmas story I would highly recommend you pick up A Plain & Simple Christmas. It's a keeper for me. A thank you goes to LibraryThing Early Reviewers for this complimentary copy for review. For more information about this novella see [...].
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Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I am way too cynical for this book. I was enticed by the description, which played up the conflicts. And I had recently read two of Linda Castillo's Kate Burkholder books, which feature a police chief who was raised in the Amish community. So I ordered it. I knew, two pages in, that this book was way too nice for my tastes, but I made a commitment and I was determined to see it through. Besides, I really did want to learn more about the Amish faith and culture. But, truthfully, I am not the sort of reader for whom this novella was intended and I wondered if I could be fair in my review.

That's my goal. So here's a review for those of you who are too edgy for this book.

The book tells a simple tale: Anna-Mae left the Amish faith to marry the love of her life. She was banned, and her father being a bishop, it gave her banning even more weight. Now 8 months pregnant, she wants to be reunited with her family. Her sister-in-law goes about making a surprise Christmas reunion happen. Anna-Mae comes "home" but it's not the warm and fuzzy reunion she hoped for. The book is her struggle, and her family's struggle, to come together for Christmas.

Here's what I liked about the book.

1. It's a heart-warming Christmas tale. It's not complex or involved, but its message is one of reconciliation and family.

2. It has a happy ending. (Sorry if I just spoiled the ending for you, but you'd know that anyway.)

3. The character of Anna-Mae's father evolves/grows/learns/has an epiphany. Characters should learn. It's what gives a character arc to a story.

4. It's a nice comfortable little volume, a good size, pleasing to hold and read. Makes us remember why we like to read real books (as cool as e-books can be).

5. You'll learn about Amish culture - foods, traditions, beliefs. There are even recipes.

I had some issues with the book, and these are my more critical thoughts.

1. I feel it is over-written. If I read that two characters are sitting down and eating chocolate cake, I don't need to read that the cake is moist and warm, and that the essence of chocolate with a hint of cinnamon wafts around the eater's tongue. I have an imagination for that, and I believe that overly describing something takes away from the reader's immersion in the story.

2. Everything is overly explained. The dialogue is peppered with words in the Amish language, all of which the reader could figure out from the context. But they're explained, anyway, and the book comes with a glossary in case you still can't figure out what they are. That feels to me as if the author is talking down to the reader.

3. There's a lot of crying. A LOT of crying.

4. Anna-Mae's father's epiphany is not believable. He's spent 95% of the book being a stubborn old mule. Then he gets a harsh talking-to from his Englisher son-in-law and he finally sees the light even though his wife and son and daughter and daughter-in-law couldn't budge him? I'm not buying it.

5. I don't see emotional growth in any of the other characters.

6. If you didn't feel talked down to before, there are discussion questions at the end so you can feel like you're sitting in a little chair in a classroom. I'm all about learning, but that's just disrespectful to the reader.

7. No one has a sense of humor. None.

8. And everyone's so nice. All the time.

Makes me want to go eat some worms.

But I warned you, didn't I? This book is not intended for readers like me, so if you're a reader like me and you want a heartwarming Christmas tale, go read Truman Capote's "A Christmas Memory," or read O'Henry's "Gift of the Magi." And if you want to learn about Amish culture without all the niceness, check out one of the Linda Castillo books.

And if you're a really nice person, read this. You might enjoy it.
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on January 4, 2012
Amy Clipston has written another great Amish fiction read. The book is definitely focused and written in a manner that should appeal to all readers, especially those who appreciate faith based fiction. Even though the Christmas season is passed, the book is a great read for the entire year.
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on August 6, 2014
What do you do when you leave your family behind… I mean, how do you just go on with life, never having any contact with them?

This special novella introduces us to Anna Mae and her English husband Kellan McDonough.

Anna Mae knew when she left her community… and the Amish faith – and her vows – that she was leaving her family behind forever. But she was in love! And she was convinced if she stayed in Lancaster County that she’d be an old maid, never marrying and having a family of her own.

Now that Anna is expecting her first child, she is missing her family even more… but if she returns home, she will be shunned.

If you’re like me, you expect this story to have a happy ending – after all, it’s about Christmas!

I won’t spoil it for you, but there are a few twists and turns!

Amy does a great job showing how am Amish wife might help a friend who has left the faith, even though it means going against her husband's wishes.

This heart-warming novella shows the faith of one and the forgiveness and acceptance she earnestly desires. If you haven't read it, don't wait another year until Christmas - read it anytime!

Amy Clipston has a talent for knowing what her readers want… if you don’t have them, be sure this series is on your Christmas list!
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