Amalie, a young woman of the Inspirationist community, struggles with the choices of love and life in Melanie Dobson’s Love Finds You in Amana, Iowa. When she discovers that her fiancé Friedrich has left for the battlefields of the Civil War, Amalie is stuck in a new colony with Matthias, Friedrich’s cold-mannered best friend. She chooses to put on a brave face and stay, risking her sanity by cooking for a difficult old woman and doubting the hope she once held regarding to her future. She attempts to justify Friedrich’s abandonment while coping with the unexpected loneliness. However, her main problem involves confusing conversations with Matthias and the resulting sentiments. The action progresses through the eyes of Amalie, Friedrich, and Matthias. Because of their dedication to their community and to God, the passionate love that is expected to be between Amalie and Friedrich is missing. Even the feelings Matthias secretly holds for Amalie lack spark because of the strict community in which they live. The most touching aspect of the novel is Friedrich’s account of the war and of the battles, moral and physical, that he finds himself in.
The most significant relationship of the book is the relentlessly loyal friendship between Friedrich and Matthias. Since the Inspirationists are a group dedicated to peace and God, they support the biblical values of faithfulness, sacrificial love, and self-control. Dobson constantly alludes to sacrificial love as exemplified by Christ and the importance of living sacrificially for our neighbors, supporting John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (NIV). While Friedrich is away fighting, Amalie is forced to adapt to life in the new community and decipher Matthias’ strange behavior. She attempts not to let his cold manner affect her.
Detached from her parents and having only one friend to confide in, Amalie is focused on being a hard-working laborer in her kitchen and staying unresponsive to her true worries. It is hard to feel sympathetic toward her since her personality is almost unrealistically tough. Yet, her faithfulness is held in high regard by Matthias.
Just as the plot holds no real promise of adventure or excitement, the ending is peacefully predictable. Readers who enjoy the Love Finds You series or other novels of the same genre will enjoy it, but it is not a story that I related to with a modern woman’s emotions or experiences. – Leah Knibble, www.ChristianBookPreviews.com
As the rest of the nation is embroiled in Civil War, the Amana Colonies remain peaceful. Amalie Wiese arrives in the newly built village of Amana in 1863 only to find that her betrothed, Friedrich, has left to fight with the Union army. Amalie tries to overcome her worries as she sets up a communal kitchen. She hopes that working alongside Friedrich’s best friend will provide some comfort, but Matthias is abrupt and cold.
Little does Amalie know that Matthias has been in love with her since childhood but will not betray Friedrich by pursuing her friendship. When Matthias himself leaves for the battlefront to deliver supplies to the soldiers, war wages in Amalie’s own heart. Will love claim victory?