Secrets of Harmony Grove by Mindy Starns Clark, (Harvest House, October 1, 2010), 386 pages
Sienna is pretty happy in life; she’s got a new job at a swanky Philadelphia advertising agency, which affords her the amenities of life she’s always wanted. Her boyfriend is really into her, and the mere sight of him makes her swoon. But she returns from a business trip and is called to the bosses’ office. She’s suspended, without pay, indefinitely, because she’s under investigation by the federal government. She heads to Lancaster County to check on her bed and breakfast, and what she finds there puts her being investigated in the back of her mind.
This is a book set in Amish country — Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, even — but it’s not really an Amish book.
I was distracted from the story by corny similes on the page and set this book aside for awhile. I’m glad I came back to it, though, because of this:
“During the renovation, when I was spending more time with the [Amish] relatives than I had in years, I had even done an experiment, privately taking note of how I was feeling and when. Over and over, the way it went was that at five minutes, I would finally stop listening for a radio or TV in the background. At fifteen minutes, even if the company was interesting and the conversation stimulating, I would find myself glancing at my phone wondering if emails had come in, discreetly checking for texts. At twenty-five minutes, I would wonder to myself how these people could possibly live like this. Weren’t they bored out of their minds?
“It usually took about an hour before my muscles would finally start to relax. By the two-hour mark, I would find a stillness I forgot I could even experience. To their credit, this kind of silence was intentional. As isolated as the Amish often seemed, it always surprised me how very aware they were of the impact noise could have on a life and the damage confusion and chaos could wreak on a soul.
“Ultimately, beyond that hard-won stillness came the true goal: a oneness with God. Was it any wonder I always felt spiritually renewed when I spent time in Amish country? By turning down the noise of my life, I was able to hear those still, small whispers of a loving God, whispers that filled my heart and never failed to refresh my soul.”
~Page 194, Secrets of Harmony Grove
In this brief excerpt, Sienna is clearly talking about the stillness she’s found in Amish country, particularly when she’s with her Amish relatives. But she’s also contrasting a fast-paced city life with a slower, more intentional, more rural one. This resonates with me. Not that it’s a completely new thought, but, I guess, I needed the reminder. The last month or so I’ve been craving a slower, simpler, quieter lifestyle, and perhaps the reason for that is just as Mindy Starns Clark (through Sienna) stated here.
I also enjoyed the perspectives given on nonviolence, conscientious objector status and self-defense.
I did figure out well ahead of time some of the answers this mystery sought, without trying.
It had been awhile since I’d read a Mindy Starns Clark book, and I was glad for the chance to try another. While not the greatest books I’ve ever read, I’ve always enjoyed her work, and this was no exception. I’ve especially appreciated her books for the touches of humor.
My [old] reviews of other Mindy Starns Clark books:
The Trouble with Tulip
Blind Dates Can Be Murder
Elementary, My Dear Watkins
Rating: 3.5 stars
About the author
Mindy Starns Clark is a former singer and stand-up comedian; she and her family live in Pennsylvania.
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