A Hidden Truth

Written by Judith Miller
Review by Nancy J. Attwell

I had never heard of the Amana Colony until I read this first book in Judith Miller’s Home to Amana series, but I am now thoroughly intrigued by this piece of American history. In the mid-19th century, the Community of True Inspiration, or the Inspirationalists, established communal living in seven villages on a large tract of land in Iowa. A board of elders made rules, assigned work, and meted out punishments, all for the economic and spiritual good of the community as a whole.

In 1892, 22-year-old Dovie Cates, an outsider, comes to the village of East Amana in hopes of learning more about her own mother’s past. She shares a room with her cousin, Karlina Richter, and the two young women quickly become friends. In truth, the plot in this book is thin and the pace slow. Karlina loves looking after her sheep, and Dovie learns how to help in the Küche, the communal kitchen which serves meals to about forty village residents. Both girls go skating, help a neighbor, and fall in love. What is lacking in tension is made up for in smooth descriptions that make the day-to-day village life seem real. If a reader is seeking excitement, then this is not the book for you; but Miller is a good writer, and those who enjoy a gentle read about a simpler time will certainly enjoy A Hidden Truth.