A Plain & Fancy Christmas

Author: Cynthia Keller

Publisher: Ballantine Books

Release Date: October 25, 2011

Blue Ribbon Rating: 4.5


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Widowed for three years, Rachel Yoder is finally learning to smile, even though she's never quite sure if she's properly honoring her Amish way of life.  Rachel has always struggled with thoughts of inadequacy while trying her very best to be a strong, obedient Amish wife and mother.  She was happiest when she had farmed with her Amish husband.  After he passed away, she moved back in with her parents in Pennsylvania, making a place for herself and her daughter in their Amish community.  Rachel works hard, hoping to earn her parents' approval, but she always feels like she's different in some way she can't explain.

Ellie Lawrence has earned her way to the top of her field in Public Relations.  As Vice President of her company in New York City, she works long hours, barely having time for her family.  It's what she's always wanted, or thought she wanted…until the day a letter comes that will change everything she knows about herself and her family.  Even though she's been dating, Ellie realizes he's not the man for her.  Now it all makes sense when she finally finds out why she doesn't look like her siblings or feel like she fits in with them.

Thirty years ago, a doctor made a momentous error, and his wife, a nurse, covered up his mistake to save her husband's job and to protect them both from public ridicule.  The doctor has now passed away, and the nurse has decided to come clean before her own death.  Two children were switched at birth and sent home with the wrong parents.  The nurse writes these two now grown women about her involvement in the lie they've been living and sends them both on a course of self discovery.

What would you do if you found out in your thirties that you have lived your life with the wrong parents and siblings?  Would you want to meet your other family?  What if your family was Amish?  Would you leave the city and job you loved to live as an Amish woman?  What if your Amish family wasn't really your family but lived in a high-rise in New York City?  Could you leave the safety of the Amish community to get to know your real family in a city with every temptation you shouldn't face?

A PLAIN & FANCY CHRISTMAS isn't a traditional romance, but it does contain a significant love story.  Several love stories actually, but mostly it's about the love of family in addition to learning to love yourself and your life.  You can't truly love another until you've become whole yourself and there's plenty of love within these pages, even if it's often misconstrued.  This is the perfect story to read during the holidays when your list can be overwhelming without realizing what's truly important.  It's thought provoking, enchanting, heartrending as well as captivating. 

This is a beautifully written inside look at two completely different worlds within loving families.  This novel embodies some richly described lessons and heartbreaking moments before either woman discovers who they really are at this moment.  Their past has shaped them, but it shouldn't dictate where their hearts should lead.  Or should it?

A PLAIN & FANCY CHRISTMAS makes you think about life's treasures and will create a welcome excuse to relax for a few hours.  Cynthia Keller makes you ponder what you would do in the exact situation, while being wrapped up in the emotions of these two amazing women and their families—who have to let go in order to truly show their love.

I really loved this novel.  It delves into the frailty of the human spirit during a life changing moment, no matter how you've been raised.  You can allow life's hard knocks to break you, or you can realize how special your life is along the way.  A PLAIN & FANCY CHRISTMAS is beautiful, poignant and inspirational.

By Romance Junkies Reviewer: Dorine Linnen

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