I received The Last Bride by Beverly Lewis a few weeks ago but haven’t had a moment to even think about sitting still to read a book. I finally had to MAKE time, usually right after putting the boys to bed. It seems as though the older they get, the busier I get. Huh… never would have guessed that! Haha!!
This is a part of Lewis’ “Home to Hickory Hollow” series. This interweaves a lot of characters that you would be familiar with if you are an avid Lewis reader such as I, but each book is its own story, not immediately connected to the others. This was a really sweet story of Tessie Ann Miller and her struggle to remain obedient to her parents while keeping her romance with her beau, Marcus King, alive. Her parents disapprove of her relationship with Marcus, which is fairly odd since I gather from Lewis’ other books that who you court is kept strictly between the lovers and not even the parents find out until the couple makes their engagement announcement. Tessie’s “dat” has kept secret records though of the families in Lancaster County in their particular church district because as Tessie later finds out, she is distantly related to Marcus. This is why her parents disapprove of her relationship with Marcus but they never reveal this to her, expecting her to obey them without question. Tessie struggles with this, but feels that her love for Marcus is Providentially ordained. I normally like to leave a little of the story for you to find out in case you want to read it for yourself, so if you want that PLEASE STOP READING NOW AND SKIP DOWN to the second set of asterisk marks!! I am now going to reveal a SPOILER ALERT!!
Tessie and Marcus secretly elope and decide they will continue living as singles in their parent’s homes until the time is right to reveal their elopement to the church. Marcus eventually begins leasing a home that will become their future home together much to the suspicion of the people of the church district. Tessie sneaks away in the evenings when she can to spend them with Marcus but never spends the night even though she really wants to reveal their elopement to her parents. Marcus and Tessie continue to pray about it, and Marcus keeps a secret journal regarding his prayers for their future and how to reveal their marriage to Tessie’s Dat. Marcus finally decides that he will reveal their marriage to Tessie’s Dat at a barn raising they are going to attend. While working on the barn, Marcus is working on the roof and fatally falls from the roof. Tessie knows that she shouldn’t run over to him because their marriage has not been revealed, let alone their courting relationship but she does anyways. Tessie also sews black mourning clothes and goes into a deep mourning for Marcus. Her parents don’t understand this and Tessie decides herself not to bother telling her parents about the marriage so they continue to raise their eyebrows to her mourning clothes (only a wife would wear black like she is, not a courting girlfriend). As time goes along, Tessie figures out that she is pregnant, and along with some side stories going on regarding Tessie’s sister Mandy and her husband Sylvan, as well as Tessie and another young man named Levi Smucker, we eventually get to where Tessie starts to show. She now has to give a kneeling confession to the Bishop but doesn’t reveal that she and Marcus were married because she has no proof, so everyone assumes she is pregnant out of wedlock. Of course, everything works out in the end and it is revealed that she and Marcus were married with the proof of their elopement via a marriage certificate signed by witnesses; and she falls in love with Levi Smucker who helps to raise her daughter who, also of course, doesn’t have any genetic problems as her parents feared would happen because of the lineage of the two families being linked distantly.
I did thoroughly enjoy this book, however I am finding that a lot of the stories are becoming so similar and ended too neatly. As is my gripe with Lewis’ other one book novels instead of the multi-book novels, I think she fits everything too compactly in. I do appreciate when she takes the time to expand stories into multiple books. I know this is just an issue for me though and it’s not something I should project onto Lewis, because I get lost in stories. I feel like I’m walking one step behind them when they are walking down the road in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, smelling the air with them and taking in all of the gorgeous landscape. I never want the stories to end! I think that’s why I am finding it harder to find time to read nowadays, because it is harder and harder to put the book down at the end, I just want to stay in the story. Again, this is why Anne of Green Gables has always been my go-to read for this reason, I am there with them in their lives for so long!! I would definitely recommend this book though for a short read. I could have finished this in one evening but I managed to make it last over three nights. I am forcing myself to put the books down now, instead of staying up a little later and reading!
So tell me, what are some of your favorite series novels? Why do you love them so much?
*I received this book free from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review (good or bad) here on my blog and on an online shopping site*