The Love Letters written by Beverly Lewis and published by Bethany House Publishers (2015) is not your average love story. It is heartwarming in a way that will teach you some amazing lessons about how patient true love can be.

The plot centers around two main families, the Wengers and the Bitners. Marlena Wenger is in her early twenties. She has several siblings and recently her family has gone from Old Order Amish to Beachy Amish-Mennonite. Her mother asks her to go to a neighboring town for the summer to help her Mennonite grandmother, Janice Martin, whose beloved husband recently died. Marlena leaves behind her beau, Nat, and worries she will be lost without him.

The Bitners are her grandmother’s good friends and neighbors. They are Old Order Amish. They have three young daughters and a special-needs son, Jake (Small Jay), who will soon be a teen. Jake feels his father, Roman, has never understood him and won’t let him help much with the chores on their farm. Jake’s favorite friend is his cat, Sassafras, with whom he travels everywhere.

One day, Jake and his cat wander down by the mill and meet a man named Boston Calvert and his dog, Allegro. The man is middle-aged, seems intelligent and musical, plays a harmonica, but suffers from memory loss. Through a series of events, Boston comes to live with the Bitner family. He often asks Jake to read to him the letters Boston carries around in a leather satchel. The letters are love letters from an unknown lady named Abigail and addressed to my “Dearest Darling.” The other family members hear these letters and are delighted with their beauty.

Meanwhile, as Marlena settles in with Mammi Janice, she learns her sister Luella, has been in a serious car accident and is hospitalized. Luella had left her Amish family to marry an Englisher, Gordon. Marlena had tried to have a relationship with her sister, but they were never very close and she has not seen her for several years. Luella and her husband have a six-month old baby, Angela Rose. Gordon, who is in the military, is fighting overseas. Gordon’s aunt asks Marlena to care for the baby temporarily. Then Luella dies.

At first Marlena is stunned that she should be chosen for this task of caring for a baby and does not see how she will accomplish all the work on her grandma’s farm as well. Within a few short weeks, however, Marlena and Mammi have fallen in love with Angela Rose and can’t imagine life without her.

Jake is busy most days with his friend Boston who helps on the farm to earn his keep. Roman sees that his son is quite capable and takes more of an interest in him than he has in the past. In time, Boston remembers and the identity of the letter writer is revealed with happy results.

Letters also affect Marlena’s life. She and her beau Nat have been exchanging them. He asks her to stop attending the Mennonite Church and to find another place for her niece. Marlena is hurt and surprised that he would ask these things of her, especially seeing how much she is growing in her faith right where she is. She has also told the Lord she will serve Him in the ways He has led her, and doesn’t feel things should be any different. Will their relationship continue? What will happen to Marlena if it doesn’t?

In a nice plot twist a letter written by Luella to Gordon further  dramatically changes Marlena’s life.

The stories of the two families end happily. The new people who have come into their lives have changed them and blessed them. Marlena is especially thankful that the Lord opened her eyes to a closer walk with Him. He has granted her heart’s desires, along with giving her the knowledge that her sister, Luella, returned to her faith before she died and that they will be reunited one day.

Patsy Ledbetter says she has many titles, but her favorite is being mom to her five children. Her two daughters, two sons and one son-in-law are her joy. A teacher with forty years experience Patsy has taught children of all ages and also special needs children and adults. She writes occasionally for a local newspaper and performs in church theater productions on a regular basis. Her husband is the church choir and orchestra director. They have been married for 32 years. She says, “It is my desire to bring honor and glory to my Lord Jesus in every area where He has allowed me to minister.”

 

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