Just after his twenty-first birthday, Jimmy Scott’s entire life collapses around him. His alcoholic, unbelieving father, Jim, confesses to his son that he kidnapped the boy as an infant after the Scotts’ planned adoption fell through. Disgusted and outraged that his pseudo-father never told him about his past, Jimmy races off in search of his real family, an Amish couple in Lanchester County. Once there, Jimmy applies for work as a painter under the direction of Bishop Jacob Weaver, not knowing that his true parents are just within reach. When a tragic accident costs the bishop his memory, Jimmy befriends the Weaver family and, in time, falls in love with Jacob’s brokenhearted daughter, Leona. The question is, will Jimmy find his true family and become Amish so that he can marry Leona, or will he remain in the life he has known since childhood: the life of a modern day Englishman?
While The Bishop’s Daughter by Wanda Brunstetter is delightfully sweet, simple, and even borders on the romantic in some of the scenes, the story is nothing new. Oddly, what this reviewer noticed is that all the major characters have nearly identical personalities. True, each has his and her own set of problems, but they all think the same way, act the same way, and even speak the same way with the occasional German word thrown in for the Amish dialogue. Because of the lack of any real contrast between them, character development is sadly minimal. The climax comes more as a relief than a surprise, but even it is not as amazing as anticipated. Since the novel seems to be holding its breath waiting for the revelation of Jimmy’s past to come to the surface, the reader might expect fireworks; instead, Brunstetter uses an out of place near-death experience to allow the reader to identify the climax.
At places, Brunstetter seems to get lost. She starts teaching her audience about various unrelated topics rather than just telling the story. Dyslexia, alcoholism, and even the German language are all touched on in greater detail than would seem necessary in order to tell this story. In places, it seems as though Brunstetter is speaking directly to any readers who were potential alcoholics, in an effort to try to aid them in a search for sobriety. This, and various other subplots, distract from the main plot and stretch the story much longer than necessary.
The truth is The Bishop’s Daughter simply drags on for too long. The plot idea is interesting and plausible for a book half the size, but for as long as it currently is, it does not hold up. Women, particularly teenagers and those younger, may find the book enjoyable, but it would not appeal to a general audience. – Jennifer Opperman, Christian Book Previews.com
Leona is Bishop Jacob Weaver's daughter and a dedicated teacher in a one-room Amish schoolhouse. After her father's tragic accident, Leona's faith wavers. How could God allow something like this to happen to one of His servants? Outlander Jimmy Scott comes to Pennsylvania in search of his real family. When he is hired to paint an Amish schoolhouse, Jimmy and Leona find themselves irresistibly drawn to each other. Can anything good come from the love between an Amish woman and an English man? What secrets will be revealed and what miracles await God's people in Lancaster County?