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The Christmas Singing: A Romance from the Heart of Amish Country Hardcover – October 4, 2011


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: WaterBrook Press (October 4, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307446549
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307446541
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (188 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #427,634 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Cindy Woodsmall is a New York Times best-selling author whose connection with the Amish community has been featured on ABC Nightline and on the front page of the Wall Street Journal. Her ability to authentically portray her characters comes from her real-life connections with Amish Mennonite and Old Order Amish families. Cindy lives in Georgia with her family. Visit her website at CindyWoodsmall.com.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

      Cold darkness and the sugary aroma from the cake shop below surrounded Mattie as she slid a solid-colored dress over her head and tied her white apron in place. The Old Order Amish here in Ohio didn’t wear the black aprons—a difference she enjoyed—and only those involved with baking wore the white apron from the waist down. After brushing her hair, she fastened it up properly and donned her prayer Kapp. Who needed a light or a mirror to get ready for the day? She’d been wearing similar clothes her whole life, and the Ohio Amish pinned up their hair in much the same way as she had back in Pennsylvania.
      Now, cake decorating—that required good lighting and great attention to detail. And her favorite season for making specialty cakes—Christmas—was right around the corner.
      Ready to take on a new day, she hurried down the rough-hewn steps that led into her shop, lit a kerosene lantern, and pulled on her coat while going out the back door. Before getting to the woodpile, she paused a moment, enjoying Berlin’s lights. Illuminated white bulbs hung like beacons against the dark night. Although she missed her Mamm and Daed, this was home now, not Pennsylvania.
      She scanned the silhouettes and shadows of nearby homes and shops. The golden full moon had a silky glow around it, a ring almost as clear and defined as the moon itself. What would it look like if she designed a cake with a halo?
      Eager to make notes, she loaded wood into the crook of her arm and went inside. She dumped the logs in the bin and then stirred the embers in the potbelly stove and added kindling. Before her first customer arrived, she’d have the place toasty warm.
      The shop was old and narrow, but Mattie loved it. When the previous owner, a man who sold saddles and such, decided to sell his place a few weeks before she moved here, her brother James had helped her buy and remodel it. They’d torn out all the old counters, workbenches, and shelving. 
      The ceiling, floors, and walls were made of unfinished exposed wood. She’d put in a huge display case along the left wall, and a couple of small tables sat to the right. A gas-powered commercial oven and stainless-steel sinks ran the length of the back wall, and her work station, where she pieced together and decorated her cakes, sat a few feet away. Even in cooler weather, keeping the place warm without electricity wasn’t much of an issue with the heat radiating from the oven and the wood stove. Hot summer weather was a little more problematic, but the many windows helped.
      She began searching for her spiral notebook, which she often referred to as her brain. The pages of her combination sketch pad, scrapbook, and journal were covered with drawings, doodles, and pictures from magazines and newspapers. It’d been a gift for her twelfth birthday, and although the gift giver had broken her heart seven years later, she still appreciated the book. Her day planner was in the back of it, with the types of cakes she needed to make, due dates, and all her clients’ names and phone numbers. Without it she wouldn’t know how to run her store.
      She knelt and looked under her work station. It was there, maybe two feet away. Reaching as far as she could, she touched the edge of the thick binder and grabbed it. Now where did she leave her pencil?
      Is it behind your ear, Mattie Lane? Gideon’s voice washed over her.
      She shuddered, detesting hearing him inside her head, especially with the added use of the pet name Mattie Lane. Lane was not a part of her given name or her surname. When they first broke up, his voice had played constantly in her mind, but after three years these whispers of the past were rare.
      They’d been good friends most of their lives. He was three years older than she, and it had stung when he began dating at sixteen. But worse than seeing him with other Amish girls was seeing him with Englischer girls. At eighteen, he’d stopped seeing others and told her that he’d decided to wait for her.
      Their first date had taken place on her birthday, Christmas Eve, and she’d attended her first singing with Gideon. The magic of Christmas seemed to surround both of them as their voices rose in celebration of Christ’s birth and the blessing of being together. Nothing in her life had ever compared to the emotion of that night, not even owning her own shop. For the next three years, they enjoyed the glorious Christmas singings together. And then she caught him.
      Her heartbreak had been compounded by confusion. Nothing had prepared her for his betrayal.
      Pushing those thoughts away, she found a pencil lying on the sink and jotted down notes about the halo. Then she made herself a quick breakfast. Before she’d swallowed the last of her coffee, she had four dozen muffins and four dozen cupcakes in the oven.
      The cowbells hanging on the door chimed numerous times throughout the morning, and by noon she had sold the usual amount of baked goods for this time of year and had taken three new cake orders—for a birthday, a bridal shower, and a summer wedding. She couldn’t think of anything more exciting than running Mattie Cakes.
      She went to the phone and dialed her Mamm. One of the things she loved most about owning a shop was the permission to have a phone handy. She called her Mamm at least once a day.       
      Few women were as remarkable as her mother. She’d been forty-seven when she got pregnant with Mattie. But Mamm’s health issues progressed from inconvenient at the time of Mattie’s birth to life threatening by the time Mattie turned sixteen. Mattie had spent much of her life fearing she’d lose her mother. But when Mattie hesitated to move from Pennsylvania to Ohio, her mother had refused to let her stay in Apple Ridge.
      After ten rings the answering machine clicked on. Since Mamm was seventy and her phone was in the shanty near the barn, Mattie rarely reached her on the first try of the day.
      At the beep, Mattie said, “Good morning, Mamm and Daed. This is your adoring, favorite daughter calling.” Mattie chuckled. “Being the only girl has perks… Anyway, I’m having a great day, and I want to hear about yours. I’ll call back at two thirty. I hope you’re dressed warmly. Love you both.” If Mattie established a time she’d call back, Mamm never failed to be in the phone shanty, waiting to hear from her. Daed had set up a comfortable chair and a gas heater out there. She talked to her Daed too, but he didn’t stay on the line long.
      The bells on the shop door jingled again, and a cold blast of November air burst into the room.
      Mattie’s almost-five-year-old niece came barreling through the door, bundled up in her black winter coat and wool scarf over her prayer Kapp. She wondered if Esther had walked the half block from her house to the shop by herself or if the little girl’s mother was trailing behind, pushing her double stroller. Esther had four older siblings, but all of them were in school during the day.
      “Mattie Cakes!” the young girl cried.
      Mattie chuckled at Esther’s excitement. None of her nieces or nephews called her Aunt Mattie these days, but she found this nickname adorable.
      Esther ran to her, clutching a silver lunch pail. “You didn’t come home to eat, so I brought you some food.”
      “Denki.” Mattie wasn’t surprised when Esther held on to the pail. Her niece loved toting things.
      Esther began her routine inspection of the store, beginning with the sink full of dirty cooking utensils. She enjoyed coming to the shop, and Mattie hoped that in seven or eight years, Esther might want to learn the trade. Esther’s older sisters didn’t seem to have any desire to make cakes.
      Sol walked in, carrying a bow, a quiver full of arrows, and his camouflage duffel bag. He set it all behind her work counter, looking more confident than he used to. “Hi.” He flashed a quick smile before looking down. Sometimes shy, he didn’t keep eye contact for long.
      They’d begun seeing each other on special occasions more than two years ago. Now they saw each other regularly, and unlike Gideon, Sol found getting along with young women a challenge. He was reserved and tended to mumble, but they liked being together.
      When the bell on the door jingled again but no one came in, Sol hurried to open it for Mattie’s sister-in-law as she pushed the stroller into the room.
      “Did you forget something, Mattie?” Dorothy asked. “Like coming home for lunch?”
      Mattie glanced at the clock. “Sorry. I didn’t realize how much time had passed.”
      Dorothy sighed. “I’ve heard that before.”
      &ldquo...

More About the Author

Cindy Woodsmall is a New York Times, CBA, ECPA, and USA Today best-selling author who has written a dozen (and counting!) works of fiction and one of nonfiction. She and her dearest Old Order Amish friend, Miriam Flaud, coauthored the nonfiction, Plain Wisdom: An Invitation into an Amish Home and the Hearts of Two Women. Cindy has been featured on ABC Nightline and on the front page of the Wall Street Journal,and has worked with National Geographic on a documentary concerning Amish life. In June of 2013, the Wall Street Journal listed Cindy as the one of the top three most popular authors of Amish fiction.

She's a veteran homeschool mom who no longer holds that position. As her children progressed in age, her desire to write grew stronger. After working through reservations whether this desire was something she should pursue, she began her writing journey. Her husband was her staunchest supporter as she aimed for what seemed impossible.

She's won Fiction Book of the Year, Reviewer's Choice Awards, Inspirational Reader's Choice Contest, as well as one of Crossings' Best Books of the Year. She's been a finalist for the prestigious Christy, Rita, and Carol Awards, Christian Book of the Year, and Christian Retailers Choice Awards.

Her real-life connections with Amish Mennonite and Old Order Amish families enrich her novels with authenticity. Though she didn't realize it at the time, seeds were sown years ago that began preparing Cindy to write these books. At the age of ten, while living in the dairy country of Maryland, she became best friends with Luann, a Plain Mennonite girl. Luann, like all the females in her family, wore the prayer Kapp and cape dresses. Her parents didn't allow television or radios, and many other modern conveniences were frowned upon. During the numerous times Luann came to Cindy's house to spend the night, her rules came with her and the two were careful to obey them--afraid that if they didn't, the adults would end their friendship. Although the rules were much easier to keep when they spent the night at Luann's because her family didn't own any of the forbidden items, both sets of parents were uncomfortable with the relationship and a small infraction of any kind would have been enough reason for the parents to end the relationship. While navigating around the adults' disapproval and the obstacles in each other's lifestyle, the two girls bonded in true friendship that lasted into their teen years, until Cindy's family moved to another region of the US.

As an adult, Cindy became friends with a wonderful Old Order Amish family who opened their home to her. Although the two women, Miriam and Cindy, live seven hundred miles apart geographically, and a century apart by customs, when they come together they never lack for commonality, laughter, and dreams of what only God can accomplish through His children. Over the years Cindy has continued to make wonderful friendships with those inside the Amish and Mennonite communities--from the most conservative ones to the most liberal.

Cindy and her husband reside near the foothills of the North Georgia Mountains in their now empty nest.

If you'd like more information or to contact her, you can go to her website: http://www.cindywoodsmall.com or Facebook https://www.facebook.com/authorcindywoodsmall




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Customer Reviews

This is a story of heartbreak and betrayal, forgiveness and love.
pjk
"The Christmas Singing" is another good book from Cindy Woodsmall and is perfect for the holiday season.
Daysong Reflections
Her characters are well written and you feel like you are part of the story.
News From Goat Creek

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Tiffany A. Harkleroad TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 26, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Mattie's heart was broken when her childhood sweetheart broke their engagement, but she moved on. She moved to a new town, and started a cake business. But when fire strikes her bakeshop, Mattie is forced to revisit her old town, her old life, and her old love. Suddenly, everything she thought she knew is not exactly as it seems.

This was a perfect holiday read for me. Cindy Woodsmall does a wonderful job creating characters that readers really care about. I found this story to be really unique, focusing on a strong independent woman in the Amish culture, which is a rarity. Mattie is a strong character, wonderfully written, and as a reader, you long to see her happy.

I really liked that the story showed struggle, and felt it emphasized the similarities between the Amish and the English. I think that is part of why Amish fiction is so popular, because it helps bridge a gap between cultures that seem so foreign and antithetical, when in reality the cultures share many commonalities. The story is one of my favorites by the author, and it made for a wonderful, peaceful, hopeful holiday read.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By 247mama on October 9, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Cindy Woodsmall bring us another Amish romance with The Christmas Singing. This is a short, ficitional novel about Mattie. Mattie is a baker who is creative and fun and a little scatterbrained. Her lack of caution leads to a change in scenery for her. She goes for an extended visit with her family and is forced to face her former flame. Gideon wronged her in the past and now she must see him almost daily in their small community. Will she ever forgive him for the pain he caused her?

This book has little to do with Amish tradition but it is set between two Amish communities. A light fiction, it is a very quick read. Although the title is about Christmas, the focus is on the relationships of the main characters, not about the holiday. An intriguing story with a mystery and then anticipation of the outcome of the story, it is a good read. I enjoyed it and was able to finish it in one sitting. I liked Mattie (or Mattie Cakes or Mattie Lane) and I was envious of her creativity. The characters were easy to imagine and understand although a couple of the characters were severely underdeveloped and probably could have been left out.

Cindy Woodsmall certainly has an easy way of introducing us to Amish girls and helping us understand their mindsets and lives. I enjoyed this book and look forward to reading more of her Amish romances. The Christmas Singing was a great little novel and if you've never read Cindy Woodsmall's work, this would be a terrific one to begin with!

I received this book from Waterbrook Multnomah for the purpose of review. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions are my own.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Megan on January 7, 2012
Format: Hardcover
The Christmas Singing was a terrific story! It was one that I didn't want to put down and having only 189 pages is thankfully a book that can be read comfortably in one sitting. Though the story is short, it never felt rushed and it actually came across more like a full-sized novel.

Gideon almost always called Mattie "Mattie-Lane" and he was the only person to call her this. I was wondering why he gave her that nickname and when I finally learned why, I thought it was so sweet.

If you are looking for a sweet, heart-warming novella - this is it! While this story is set during the holiday season, I feel that it is a book that can be enjoyed anytime of the year. However, since I have already read it, I can see myself rereading it every Christmas season.

***I received a complimentary copy of this book to review. I was asked to give my honest opinion of the book - which I have done.***
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Courtney on November 15, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I am a big fan of Cindy Woodsmall so when I got the opportunity to read her latest book I jumped on it! I was a little nervous though with it being a novella because I read her trilogy's and I am always sad to see them end so I was worried how I would feel after this one ended in under 200 pages!!

I was really satisfied with the length and the story line!! As always with Cindy Woodsmall she creates these deep and meaningful characters that you just can't help falling in love with!! I especially fell head of heels in love with Gideon!! He is such a tender hearted man and I admired how he repeatedly thought of others over himself. Mattie was also great; she was a scatterbrained baker that I could totally relate to. I myself bake and decorate cakes so I understand her really well!

Like all other books by Cindy Woodsmall there is a lesson to learn; this being that the truth is always the best answer to all. Lying to someone you love, even just to protect them, can do more damage than you thought possible!! Gideon had to learn this the hard way! Not only was this a lesson of lying but also of forgiveness! While forgiveness can be hard it is what we Christians need to do!

One of my biggest issues with novellas is that they don't really get deep in to the story and you just feel short changed on the people and the story. I did not feel that way at all about The Christmas Singing. It was deep and emotional, humorous and overall charming! Overall I felt warm, cozy and satisfied with The Christmas Singing and I will be anxiously awaiting Cindy's next book!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Waterbrook Press. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.
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