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Publishers Weekly, 2010-01-25 Amish fiction is so big it's spawning offshoots. Miller sets her historical in 1877 in the Amana Colonies in Iowa. The Christian inhabitants of Amana's seven villages lived cooperatively and simply by strict rules, and centered their life and work around God. Like the Amish, the Amana also say gut (good) a lot. Miller (The Carousel Painter) creates two heroines who are on the surface opposite numbers, but have more in common than is apparent. Johanna Ilg has lived her young life in Amana, but feels the pull of the outside world, particularly because her brother Wilhelm has left the villages to marry and live in big-city Chicago. Berta Schumacher and her family arrive from Chicago to live a simpler life, and rebellious teenage Berta has trouble adjusting, to put it mildly. Family secrets and misunderstandings drive the plot. Miller creates likable heroines, has done her historical homework, and develops credible tension because her characters are so flawed. The Amana lifestyle is also sufficiently different (starting with the bonnets) that bonnet fiction fans will be pleased by this variation on the theme of simple living and lots of gut food. (Mar.) Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.
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