I've seen advertisements and posters for this series, The Heritage of Lancaster County, over several years, but didn't get a change to read these books until this past Christmas when I received the set as a gift.
The Shunning is the first of the three, and is dedicated to the author's grandmother, who left the Plain community and married outside of the Amish world.
In this book we meet Katie as she discovers a satin baby dress in the attic just days before she is to marry their local Amish bishop, who is widowed and with children. When the story is finally told to Katie, by her parents, how she was given to them as a baby when their own was stillborn in the hospital, she is thrown into a fresh tailspin of realizing that she doesn't belong here. She isn't Katie but this Katherine Mayfield, whose name is sewn into the little satin dress.
After all the preparations for the church service in their home, and all kinds of foods, and guests, Katie jumps up as the vows are about to be said, and after a few brief words dashes out and away.
The Bishop announces a ban on Katie. No one is to eat at the same table as she, and no one is even to speak to her, not even her own family. This becomes very hard for Katie to bear, and after a period of mopping in shock, she makes plans to leave and find out who she really is, and where her true mother is.
I tell you, this author has a wondrous way of drawing a reader into Katie's life and emotions. It is hard to put the book down!
For me an added dimension was the details of the Amish life woven in, including some expressions of speach that ring familiar to me because of my Mennonite background. Aside from the exact accent, I had a sense of de ja vu. But mostly I think it is Lewis' excellent use of description - just right amount - so that we get the atmosphere and lifestyle nuances, without getting distracted from the story line.
Of course, there is a romantic element. Daniel, the young man she was seeing four years earlier was to have drowned at sea on his birthday. Memories of him, and the guitar he left in her care keep reappearing in Katie's life, and towards the end we discover why this is important.
In fact, I was very glad I'd received the other two books in the series so I did not have to wait to find out what Katie found when she went to New York. The sequel is The Confessions.
My Dad at 88, enjoyed it too. He needed things quite simple, so this told me that he could follow this plot, and see it vividly in his mind as well.