Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Courting Miss Amsel by Kim Vogel Sawyer

5 out of 5 stars

I've read a few of Kim Vogel Sawyer's novels, but I believe Courting Miss Amsel is her best one yet.

Edythe Amsel is the new schoolmarm in Walnut Hill, Nebraska. With a clear vision and passion for her new pupils, she is eager to begin the school year with one purpose: to expand the children's education to ideas and concepts beyond farming and reading. Parents from the community, however, don't share her views on education. As if the irate parents aren't enough, she finds herself in constant battle with one particular child who enjoys causing constant disruptions in class. Will she somehow win the town's approval?

Joel Townsend is both father and mother to his orphaned nephews. Though he's done well in the past, he finds it increasingly harder to maintain both roles. What he needs is a woman who can cook something other than beans every night for his boys. Their new, attractive teacher seems to be the perfect fit. Will he be able to court the new schoolmarm who is not only under fire from the town, but also refuses to be courted?

I loved every moment of this book. As someone who works with and teaches children of all ages, I found the children in this story very three-dimensional and realistic. The situations the heroine encounters are laugh-out-loud hilarious. Miss Sawyer also does an outstanding job creating a heroine who is strong yet humble.

Not only is this one of Mrs. Sawyer's best stories, I believe this novel puts her writing skills on excellent display. She includes a cast of lively secondary characters, and her settings are so vibrant I could almost hear the wooden floorboards of the school-house creak under my feet. To top it off, she introduces food in this novel that left me longing for a cinnamon roll and German pastries.  At certain points, in the midst of reading the pastry portion, I could even taste the cinnamon in my mouth.

I highly recommend this novel to anyone who is interested in historical fiction and to anyone who wants to study the craft of writing. I can't wait to see what Mrs. Sawyer has in store for us in her next novel.

I received this book free from Bethany House publishers for the purpose of writing an honest review.

For a link to the Kindle edition, click here.

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