Courting Miss Amsel... This long-awaited story will be an endearing addition to any Kim Vogel Sawyer fan's collection. In her typical style, Mrs. Sawyer has once again created a sweet, gentle, relaxing story, published through Bethany House* in early January, 2011. Drawing on her own experiences as a teacher, the author has formed a strong, stubborn heroine with the same ideals for her students as the author herself. Courting Miss Amsel begins with the heroine's nervousness and apprehension of a new beginning, combined with troubling memories from her past.
Our always-in-control heroine, Edythe Amsel, is a strong-minded, determined young woman with modern opinions and up-to-date ideas. She also happens to be the brand-new schoolmarm of Walnut Hill, a quiet, old-fashioned prairie town unaccustomed to new-fangled notions. Joel Townsend is the caring and protective uncle of his brother's two orphaned boys, left to Joel's care sometime before. Worrying that the boys need two parents, Joel is also praying for the Lord to send him a wife, and mother for Johnny and Robert. Essentially, secondary characters such as Edythe's land-lady, Luthenia, her sister Missy, and student William, also play a vital role in this tale.
From her first week as teacher of Walnut Hill School, Miss Amsel unconsciously begins to accomplish two things; (1) almost every student in school grows to love her dearly, and (2) the town council is shocked and in consternation over her teaching methods! As time goes on, Edythe must prove herself worthy as teacher, find a way to stop one student's malicious pranks, and discourage the bachelors of town from wanting to court her, (which is what she wants, right?) Although she doesn't realize it yet, God is teaching her - through adversities - to lean on, and surrender her control, to Him. What will it take for her to place her trust in the Lord?
Several messages are conveyed in this story, and starting with the most dominant and important we learn along with Miss Edythe Amsel to let go of our control and place our trust in the One in control of everything. Joel learns, and demonstrates to the reader, that when you wait for God's perfect timing and learn His plan for you, your life will be more filled with joy than you could even imagine. Surprisingly, as this story unravels you will also learn interesting information about the suffragist movement and property acts in the late 1800's. Throughout the entire novel, a warmth and contentedness is emanated from the pages, leaving you feeling inspired.
Courting Miss Amsel is a beautiful, heart-felt prairie romance that transports you to another time and place. Really the only negative element is a bit of a lack of warmth in Edythe's character and disposition, especially towards Joel's nephews, at first. This trait is explained and changed later in the story, however, and so cannot really be counted as negative. Flowing calmly and comfortably, with amazingly vivid, real-to-life characters, this story is filled with something that makes you feel as though you are right in Walnut Hill, among friends. This is a first-class story, and fully lives up to the standards set by the author in her previous novels, such as A Hopeful Heart, and Waiting for Summer's Return.
***Note: I received this book free of charge for review purposes, courtesy of Bethany House Publishers and Graf-Martin Communications. I would like to say thank you very much for sending it to me.