While most Amish fiction is set in the present, Reed has set her story in Ohio in the turbulent times of the 1970s. In book one, Betsie Troyer worked outside the Amish community. Now back home on the farm, she's been asked to watch the young daughter of the English family she used to board with.
Despite her sister's disapproval, Betsie agrees to keep young Sheila.
Betsie knows that having an Englisher in the family home may mean a disgruntled visit from the bishop, but that aren't her only concerns. Foremost is her fear that her parents whose faith has led them to leave the Amish community may make their break permanent. Her young brother, who had been living with their older brother Eli and family, has returned. No longer a little boy, he is rebellious and at odds with everyone. The only bright spot in her life is the attention of CharleyYoder who has made clear that he wants to make Betsie his wife. Then a letter comes in the mail from Michael, the young Englisher who has fled to a place called The Farm in Tennessee to avoid the draft. Just thinking about Michael upsets her peace, but his letters show that he may be the only person who really knows and cares about Betsie. I am not sure why this book is titled THE BACHELOR as the story is clearly Betsie's, not Charley's or Michael's. And while Betsie does have a romantic interest in Charley (and possibly Michael) her story is much more than a simple romance.
The 1970's provided a new focus to the typical Amish genre and I liked that. I have not read the first book in the series so I lacked some important background, but still could follow the story. This series seems to concentrate heavily on the difference beliefs between Amish and mainstream Christianity. That thread I believe will be just as strong in the next volume. While this book comes to a satisfactory end, it is clear that Betsie's story (as well as the bishop's) will continue in another book.
A secondary thread to this book is the changing lives of the Amish in Plain City, Ohio, as many families sell their farms (for a good profit) and leave for Missouri and cheaper land. This interested me because the first Amish settlers to our central Wisconsin area came in the the mid-70's, shortly after the time period of this book. Similar to the Plain City families, our new neighbors had sold their previous homes in Indiana and searched out cheaper land.
I received a copy of THE BACHELOR from Kregel Publications for my honest review. There is a blog tour of the book next week, but I posted my review early because of other commitments next week.