Book Review: “Sanctuary,” by Beverly and David Lewis

03 Sep

1139765Genre: Amish; Christian Inspirational; suspense

Plot Summary: Ryan and Melissa James have been happily married for three years living in a dreamworld on Lord’s Point on the Atlantic Ocean. But all is not as it seems. Suddenly Melissa goes missing, leaving a vague note behind for her perplexed husband. When Melissa ends up in Lancaster County after having temporarily escaped the Russian mafia, she is welcomed by a Mennonite woman into the Plain community. Will Melissa ever see her husband again, and how will she escape when the murderer who killed her father shows up again?

My Book Review: To be honest, I’m a bit biased as I very much dislike Amish fiction. I’ve never really seen that particular genre with the rose colored glasses many others seem to and don’t like fluffy Christian fiction. However, I’ve always thought of author Beverly Lewis as being the mother of the modern Amish fiction movement and a cut above the rest of the genre out there. My mom had this book and I remember her telling me bits about it when she read it nearly 15 years ago. It sounded like it had an interesting plot and the main character wasn’t Amish, so I decided to give a try.

I guess you can’t really consider this book as ‘Amish fiction’ since the character of Lela Denlinger (who welcomes Melissa into her home) is actually Mennonite. But she lives in the Amish county and has an Amish sister, and the Amish and Mennonites are closely related.

This book made quick reading. Lewis’ writing style is very light and sweet– a bit too sugary sweet for me. I thought the characters felt a little too stereotypical and the details were dated as well. At the beginning of the story, Ryan and Melissa are nonbelievers but become saved during the course of the story. The instruments of grace God uses are their friends Denny and Lela. I usually have a high pain tolerance when it comes to preachiness, but Denny in particular felt quite heavy handed with the preaching. So if you don’t like preachy Christian fiction, this book probably won’t be for you.

Lela is given a love interest, but it doesn’t really tie into the main plot very well and it just seems to be page-filler. I didn’t much care for the character of Paul Martin, who ditched her for someone else years earlier and now is lonely with a forlorn son and bascially wants her to feel sorry for him and take him back.

On the positive side, there were several plot twists that really surprised me toward the second half of the book that picked up the pace of suspense. I liked that not everything was completely sorted out at the end of the last paragraph, but left you sort of completing the story in your mind’s eye.

I don’t think I’ll wish to read any more Beverly Lewis books, but I have enjoyed some of her stories translated to movie. I’ve decided I enjoy them much better that way. If you’d like to dip your toe into Amish fiction, this book may be a good place to start. Beverly Lewis is a well known best selling author, and I’m sure her books have probably gotten better over the years. But once again, this genre just isn’t for me…

Here is a thoroughly written article about both sides of the ‘Amish fiction debate’…


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Posted by on September 3, 2015 in Book Reviews


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