What is home to you?
When I first started planning a new series – my fourth Amish series for Abingdon Press – I found myself thinking about what home means to me. “Coming Home” became the title almost immediately.
Home is central to the Amish. It’s not where they live, their community, where they raise their families. Home is also where they worship.
But what if home becomes unbearable? What if one of your parents is so relentlessly critical, even mean-spirited, that your soul feels it might shrivel if you stay? What would you do then – especially if all you know is your Amish community?
I like to write trilogies so I envisioned three brothers who feel forced to leave their family home in the Amish community of Paradise, Pennsylvania and move to the nearby Englisch community.
How could I bring these men back to the Amish community?
What – who – would bring them home?
The answer was three sisters who grew up with them, fell in love with them and hoped they’d marry. The three Zook sisters – Lavina, Mary Elizabeth, and Rose Anna – want the Stoltzfus brothers – David, Sam, and John – to return to the community and their faith.
Lavina has found it difficult to force her thoughts away from David and move on with her life. With marriage, family, so important in the Amish culture, this is a difficult situation for her and one I enjoyed exploring. And while David is resisting returning to his community, he has strong ties to it and misses his home, his faith – and Lavina.
Then Lavina stops by David’s home one evening and finds his mother in tears. David’s father has been diagnosed with cancer and she needs David’s help with the farm.
It’s the ultimate family conflict: two family members don’t get along and yet must live together under one roof to survive.
I drew on some personal experiences of family dysfunction and the experiences of friends. Today we hear so many stories of how adult children must set aside their own feelings and help care for their parents in bad times.
I’m lucky to have several Amish friends and I’ve visited Paradise, my favorite Amish community, a lot. The Amish take care of their own and even have a dawdi haus – what we’d call a mother-in-law apartment – attached to the main family home.
Under ideal circumstances when it comes time for the father to retire and a son to take over the family farm the parents move into that dawdi haus. Trouble is, David’s father is determined not to retire even though he is sick from chemotherapy.
So despite how David feels about Lavina he has nothing to offer her.
It’s a romance writer’s job to write a happy ending.
But for the longest time I didn’t see how David and Lavina could have a happy ending.
I’m hoping you’re intrigued enough to get a copy of Return to Paradise and find out for yourself.
If you love Amish food, you’ll enjoy making some of the recipes I include in each of my books. Return to Paradise includes recipes for Pennsylvania Dutch Baked Corn Pudding, Banana Crumb Cake, Beef Stew, and Rachel Ann’s Gingerbread Cookies.
Enter below for a chance to win one of three copies of Return to Paradise!
Barbara Cameron has a heart for writing about the spiritual values and simple joys of the Amish. She is the author of more than 40 fiction and nonfiction books, three nationally televised movies, and the winner of the first Romance Writers of America Golden Heart Award. Barbara currently resides in Jacksonville, Florida. Find out more about Barbara at Amishliving.com.
Sign up here to be the first to get exclusive news delivered to your inbox monthly. New books, cover reveals, coupon codes, giveaways, first-look excerpts and much more.