Book Review (+ Giveaway!): The Return

14 Aug

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About the Book

Book title: The Return

Author: Suzanne Woods Fisher

Release date: Sept 1, 2017

Genre: Amish

In a wild country, the true cost of love may be more than they can bear

Beautiful and winsome, Betsy Zook never questioned her family’s rigid expectations, nor those of devoted Hans—but then she never had to. Not until the night she’s taken captive in a surprise Indian raid. Facing brutality and hardship, Betsy finds herself torn between her pious upbringing and the feelings she’s developing for a native man who encourages her to see God in all circumstances.

Greatly anguished by Betsy’s captivity, Hans turns to Tessa Bauer for comfort. She responds eagerly, overlooking troubling signs of Hans’s hunger for revenge. But if Betsy is ever restored to the Amish, will things between Hans and Tessa have gone too far?

Inspired by true events, this deeply layered novel gives a glimpse into the tumultuous days of prerevolutionary Pennsylvania through the eyes of two young, determined, and faith-filled women.

About the Author

Suzanne Woods Fisher is an award-winning, bestselling author of more than two dozen novels, including Anna’s Crossing and The Newcomer in the Amish Beginnings series, The Bishop’s Family series, and The Inn at Eagle Hill series, as well as nonfiction books about the Amish, including Amish Peace and The Heart of the Amish. She lives in California. Learn more at and follow Suzanne on Twitter @suzannewfisher.

Guest Post from Suzanne Woods Fisher

The Three Sisters’ Garden: Corn, Squash & Beans!

Corn was a new food to the immigrants to the New World, introduced to them by Native Americans. Soon, it became an essential part of their daily diet, in one form or another. Growing it brought yet another new discovery: companion planting in the form of the Three Sisters’ Garden.

According to Iroquois legend, corn, squash and beans were three inseparable sisters who only grew and thrived together. 18th century Native Americans wouldn’t have understood the science behind why companion planting worked, but they knew it did. Beans, like all legumes, have bacteria living on their roots that help them absorb nitrogen from the air and convert it to a form that plants can use. Corn, which requires a lot of nitrogen to grow, benefits from the legumes and provides a pole support for the beans to climb. Low growing squash leaves shade the soil and prevent weed growth. Their sharp and prickly leaves deter pests. This tradition, of planting corn, beans and squash in the same mounds, became a sustainable system to provide long-term soil fertility among Native American tribes that farmed.

The wisdom of planting Three Sisters’ Garden was adopted by the immigrants, including our own Betsy Zook from The Return. Betsy learned of the technique while a captive among a tribe of Indians and later, after she had been returned to the Amish, shared her knowledge with Anna and Bairn.

Have you ever considered growing a Three Sisters’ garden? All you need is the right kind of seeds, a mound of dirt in a sunny spot, and to not forget to water. Mother Nature will do the rest.

Suzanne Woods Fisher is a bestselling, award-winning author of novels about the Old Order Amish. Her interest in the Plain People began with her grandfather, who was raised as a Dunkard (German Baptist) on a farm in Pennsylvania. Suzanne loves to connect with readers! You can find her on-line at

*Images courtesy of Dream Home Improvement and Technology Exchange Lab

My Impressions:

The Return is the third installment in Suzanne Woods Fisher’s historical Amish Beginnings series. Set about twenty years after the small Amish church has settled in Pennsylvania, the novel features beloved characters from previous books and characters new to the series. The small church has become a small, but influential voice, but peace is not always easy to achieve. Fisher has done her homework, even to the smallest of details, to bring to life the early days of the Pennsylvania colony, highlighting the influx of European settlers and the Native Americans whose life is rapidly changing. If you like either (or both!) historical or Amish fiction, The Return is a good choice for you.

The Return, like many of Fisher’s novels, has an ensemble cast that tells the story from a community’s viewpoint. The predominate perspectives are Tessa Bauer, 16 year old daughter of Anna and Bairn, Betsy Zook, 17 year old daughter of settlers on the edge of the Pennsylvania wilderness, and a now grown up Felix Bauer, a farmer, widower, and father to twin 9 year old boys. I liked that the reader gets a well-formed view of unfolding events, as well as the community as a whole. There is a dark side to The Return as it explores the human heart behind the tragic circumstances inspired by real life events. However, Fisher’s trademark humor is added to lighten and soften the hard aspects of the narrative. I appreciated that — life often is a contrast between times of joy and grief. Fisher also examines both sides of the story — the brutality of the Indian raids and the equally brutal reprisals of settlers. As one of the characters notes: “Don’t we all have a darkness within?”

In contemporary Amish books, the emphasis on the separateness of the community often takes the form of no cars, no electricity, no overt contact with the English. But in 1760s Pennsylvania, everyone lives pretty much the same and in close contact with neighbors of all faiths. I liked that the emphasis on separateness for this Amish community was the commitment to live a life of peace with others and to resist the temptation to judge and exact vengeance. The community’s relationship with God is the focus, not the established rules of the church. The Return serves as a good lesson in the ideals of the Amish church and its reason to relocate to the New World.

Fisher always provides a good story, and The Return is no exception. I loved the depth of this novel and hope that there is another book soon to come. I just have to find out what happens in the infant community of Stoney Ridge!

Highly Recommended.

Audience: older teens to adults.

(Thanks to Celebrate Lit for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)



Blog Stops

August 1: Quiet Quilter

August 1: A Baker’s Perspective

August 1: Remembrancy

August 2: Bigreadersite

August 2: lighthouse academy

August 2: Zerina Blossom’s Books

August 3: Genesis 5020

August 3: Book by Book

August 3: Blogging With Carol

August 4: Seasons of Opportunities

August 4: Chas Ray’s Book Nerd Corner

August 4: Carpe Diem

August 5: Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses


August 5: Jeanette’s Thoughts

August 6: Artistic Nobody

August 6: Just the Write Escape

August 6: Locks, Hooks and Books

August 7: A Reader’s Brain

August 7: Pause for Tales

August 7: Splashes of Joy

August 8: Bibliophile Reviews

August 8: Christian Bookaholic

August 8: Live.Love.Read.

August 9: Blossoms and Blessings

August 9: Mary Hake

August 9: Simple Harvest Reads (Spotlight)

August 10: For the Love of Books

August 10: The Fizzy Pop Collection

August 10: A Simply Enchanted Life

August 11: The Power of Words

August 11: Karen Sue Hadley

August 11: Neverending Stories

August 12: Cafinated Reads

August 12: TinaTruelove

August 12: Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations

August 13: God’s Little Bookworm

August 13: Southern Gal Loves to Read

August 13: Connie’s History Classroom

August 14: Vicky Sluiter


To celebrate her tour, Suzanne is doing an amazing giveaway from August 1 through 14! Check it out:

Four winners will receive one of the prizes below:

  • An Amish Gift Basket and a copy of The Return
  • Amish popcorn sampler and a copy of The Return
  • The Amish Beginning 3 book set series

One grand prize winner will receive:

  • An iPad Mini

You can enter at Suzanne’s website ( or on her Facebook page (

2 Responses to “Book Review (+ Giveaway!): The Return”

  1. thepowerofwords2016 August 14, 2017 at 1:21 pm #

    Oh, for the gift to write like you do, Beckie! Your review is one of the most accurate and detailed I’ve ever seen. This book was excellent in every way, exactly as you so beautifully described, as it’s on my favorites list. I loved your point that since the Amish weren’t that different on the surface – as no one had cars, electricity, etc. – it was their focus on living at peace that set them apart. I really like Fisher’s “community” style of writing.

    • rbclibrary August 14, 2017 at 1:26 pm #

      Oh for the gift of encouragement that you have, Carole! Thanks so much for your kind words. I really liked this book — my favorite of this series. It has just the right amount of balance and was true to the time period. And yes, her community style is part of what makes her a must-read author.

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