Beverly Lewis continues to impress with thoughtful journeys and gentle romance in her latest novel, The Orchard. In this mid-20th century tale, the reader follows the lives of Amish twins, Ellie and Evan, as well as their father, Lyle. Together the family owns and operates an apple orchard while devoutly following God. All seems simple in their picturesque lives in the orchard until it is revealed that Evan registered for the draft, and not as a Conscientious Objector. Now the family faces new challenges personally, and new judgment among the tight-knit Amish community of Bird in Hand. Evan’s preparations to head off to war excellently couple with Ellie’s preparations to join the church officially through baptism. This foil is an excellent driver for the storyline as the reader completes chapter after chapter.
The novel quickly becomes a swarm of differing directions and gentle drama which are beautifully woven together, pulling the reader delightfully between Amish politics, the civil unrest of the 1960s, and the slow romance unfolding for Ellie back home. The stakes only get higher with the looming knowledge of attacks on young Amish men for their religious objection to the draft.
This novel is a lovely glimpse into Amish culture, and it’s even more interesting to see it paired with the tumultuous Vietnam era. A reader may even long for a sequel, detailing the next chapters after the conclusion of these pages. Overall, this story centered around an apple orchard is a recommended pick for any reader looking for another of Lewis’s best.