Thursday, October 15, 2009

Review: The Sound of Sleigh Bells by Cindy Woodsmall

What a great week. We're on fall break Thursday and Friday, which I would love to use for doing nothing more than endless reading; however, I do have grading to do at some point for end of term next week. Honestly, I can't believe that it's fall already. In some ways, we might even say that we're headed towards--dare I say it--winter?!? As much as I love winter, I love and adore fall/harvest time even more. Anyone who has ever read a Little House on the Prairie book, or watched one of those fun, fall Gilmore Girl's episodes filled with town square celebrations, might agree with me that it's such a heart-warming introduction to the holidays. There are just so many wonderful, quaint, fun moments I can associate with the fall, that I suppose I'm not wishing "winter" here too soon!

Having said that though, I was excited to read this fall/winter read from WaterBrook Press, The Sound of Sleigh Bells by Cindy Woodsmall.

Synopsis: Beth Hertzler has a secret that is troubling her, and preventing her from being honest with the people who love her. Dressed all in black, and mourning a fiance that died over a year ago, Beth keeps love and the hopes of love at a distance.

Set in a modern day Amish community, Beth works as a liaison between the Amish shops that cater to the Englischer patrons of their shops, and other Amish artisans and craftsmen across Pennsylvania and Ohio. Part of Beth's work takes her outside of Pennsylvania to meet other Amish, and to network the selling of their goods to an eager market. Along the way, Beth comes across an amazing artisan, who carves the most lifelike and beautiful carvings that she has ever seen. Believing the artist to be an old man, Beth begins corresponding by letters with the artist, not knowing that he is actually the equally troubled, young and single Jonah. How will Beth respond when she finds out who she is actually writing, and how can a friendship continue between two, equally wounded people?

Review: Although I've seen many of these Amish-set novels popping up lately, I had never actually read one. I was interested and curious to see if my love for 1800 style stories and living would be reflected in an Amish story, and how their culture would play out. The novella (as its really quite a short read), started off a little slowly. There seemed to be this light touch applied to the story, that gently took on the characters, culture, and story that made you feel that you needed to tread lightly in any expectations or judgments you might make. I can't pin down exactly why I felt that way, but I did feel as though we were being led, gently, through a story of loss and yearning.

While I thought the book was very sweet, and I would easily recommend it to just about anyone, I did feel that some of the light touch applied throughout the story needed to be pushed by the ending. I can't say that the way the events played out were completely predictable, but in some ways, I was surprised at how no nonsense everything played out. Maybe the story reflects more of a reality than I'm willing to admit to, but in the end, I did feel that things happened pretty straight forward. I've always said how much I hate stories that manipulate my emotions, but maybe in this case I wanted just a little manipulation? Yes, I laugh at myself as I say that; however, for such a sweet story, I guess I just wanted to see more emotions come from the characters.

A very cute story, and one that will fit in well with any plans for a "holiday," winter sort of read.

For more information, see: The Sound of Sleigh Bells.

***This book came from WaterBrook Press as a review copy.


  1. I've never read any Amish fiction, either, although I did buy one at the library book sale the other week. I don't really know what to expect from it, though.

  2. I grew up with a girl named Beth Hertzler. Too funny!

  3. I love this time of the year! There was actually a bit of a bite in the air today! I've never read a book where the Amish were main characters however I think that "light touch" would make me a bit restless though.

  4. I'm always interested in reading books about Amish life and this one sounds like a lovely read.

  5. I never heard of Cindy Woodsmall. I don't read a lot of Amish ficiton, which may seem funny since I run a travel guide related to the Amish and PA Dutch. Thanks for your interesting review. I will have to pick up a copy of The Sound of Sleigh Bells. To learn about the Amish you can visit