The Sound of Sleigh Bells by Cindy Woodsmall

sound of sleigh bellsThe Sound of Sleigh Bells by Cindy Woodsmall (WaterBrook, October 6, 2009), 208 pages

I have intentionally avoided Amish fiction. I didn’t understand the allure, and it was so hugely popular. But when I had the chance to read and review this book, a short, Christmasy (Look at that snowy cover!) book, I decided to take the chance.

Beth works alongside her aunt Lizzy in their dry goods store. Lizzy’s been so much more than an aunt through the years. But ever since the accident, Beth has closed herself off to everyone, including Lizzy. It’s still evident to all that she’s in pain, though, and Lizzy’s tried just about everything she can think of. So when she sees Beth’s eyes light up upon sight of a carving, she makes a choice.

The story stars wounded people, but the real focal point is healing, hope.

It’s not actually a Christmasy story at all. Sure, part of the story takes place at Christmas, but that’s it.

It’s a sweet, simple story. And while it’s set in an Amish world, it wasn’t very much about Amish life or culture (at least it didn’t seem so to me). I appreciate that Woodsmall set real-world problems in this environment, but the book wasn’t as Amish as I expected or hoped. Just as it wasn’t as Christmasy as I expected, based on the cover.

I probably could have grown to care more deeply about the characters, but perhaps the shortness of this book prevented that. The ending was pretty well telegraphed early on. Overall, I did enjoy reading The Sound of Sleigh Bells.

I still don’t get the draw of Amish fiction, though. My best guess: It’s escapism at its finest. Readers long for a simpler life, a simpler time, when life was slower and easier.

Woodsmall is the author of several books, the first of which was published in 2006 (it surprised me that it was so recent).

Other reviews
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Never a Dull Moment

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5 responses to “The Sound of Sleigh Bells by Cindy Woodsmall

  1. I’ve read several Amish style books and I’ve enjoyed them. I’ll have confess the draw for me is a form of snoopiness. I’m curious about how people in this day and age live a life devoid of modern technology. I know it’s fiction but the stories seem real to me and so they satisfy my snoppy self. This one looks so-so.

  2. I don’t think the life is that much simpler. They are often forced to make impossible choices between say, reading and their community. I think it depends on which Amish books you read though…some do seem to just portray the Amish lifestyle as simple and sweet. I highly highly recommend Levi’s Will by Dale Cramer for what I think of as a realistic look at the Amish in fiction. 😉

  3. I’ve recently been trying to figure out the appeal of these books, too (since I reviewed one a few weeks ago, A Merry Heart). I agree that some people must like the over-simplified image of a simpler life. The escapist ones are a growing offshoot of the romance genre; I think they appeal to women who fantasize about a world in which all they’d have to do is cook and have babies. The book usually ends with pregnancy, so all of the reality you ever get is cute nieces and nephews. Plus the food is always plentiful and the women always have fathers and brothers to bring it in the house for them.

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