I am at a loss as to where to begin with this review. There are so many stories, plots, subplots, and characters woven into this one novel; however the warp and woof of this tale necessitates the plethora of elements.
Before I get into the whole review, I want to talk about Amish weddings and a Russian wedding I once attended--they are very much the same. This wedding started at 10:00 AM, with a choir singing a couple of songs, then a preacher spoke for about 45 minutes. The choir sang a couple more songs, and another preacher spoke for about 45 minutes. One more song and then the third preacher asked each member of the couple getting married a question, and then he started in Genesis and preached clear through to the maps on every scripture about marriage. The best man passed out about midway through, but was quickly revived with a breath of fresh air. After the wedding itself, the venue moved to a larger facility where the family had set out tables and chairs for all the guests and started bringing food to each of the tables. There were friends and family members who served each table and continually brought out new foods for everyone to eat. It was an incredible feast.
Jerry Eicher has included in his book, not one, but two Amish weddings that so closely resemble this wedding I attended, from the songs to the three preachers, to the food and the table waiters. The only difference is that the church had chairs with backs to them and the seating wasn't segregated between male and female.
The first part of the story is about Lydia and Sandra--cousins who were in competition for the attentions of Ezra. When Sandra's father dies and Lydia's father finds himself in dire financial straits, some unexpected things happen. Lydia agrees to back off on chasing Ezra, Sandra's mother remarries, Rosemary sets her cap for Ezra, and Deacon Shrock convinces Sandra to look at her step-father's son as a potential husband. Then a boyfriend from Lydia's rumspringa shows up at her house and wants to pick up where they left off. Lydia's sisters are running beyond wild with their rumspringa and bring Englischa people to their house. Lydia's parents are not as strict with their younger daughters as they should be and come under the scrutiny of the deacon and the bishop of the community. Because of Lydia's former boyfriend, Lydia falls under the scrutiny as well.
As the narrative progresses, Ezra finds Rosemary's attentions flattering and returns them, but Rosemary finds out that she's seriously ill and likely terminal. Rosemary makes plans for Lydia and Ezra to marry and to be of comfort to each other.
A Heart Once Broken is so hard to put down. It's the kind of book you want to take a whole afternoon to sit down with a cup of tea to read in one sitting. Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and a wedding feast.
My thanks to Harvest House Publishers for allowing me to read and review this book.