By: E.B. Moore

Published: October 7, 2014

Publisher: NAL Trade Paperback

Fiction/Historical Fiction

Ruth and Aaron are living the idyllic Amish life with their four children and one on the way. Their life is far removed from the English, the name they give the non-Amish. Life on their Pennsylvania homestead is a dream full of rewards of hard work and love for God. But, one day, the English make a visit to their home because Aaron is known for having the best horses around. The English explain they need solid horses to take their families West, where there is the promise of land for everyone and their children. Aaron listens to their tales of prosperity out West and decides it is time to remove his family from the protection of their Fold. He plans to join the wagon train and head to the Great West. Ruth can’t seem to find the same excitement Aaron has and feels that makes her an “unseemly” wife in God’s eyes. She bites her tongue, ignores the stares from her fellow Amish and sadly, follows Aaron’s orders. Their family leaves the only home they have known to join the English on their trek across 2000 miles. Ruth works hard to keep their family separate from the English, but finds there are situations that require conversations and sharing of supplies. Throughout this difficult adventure, Ruth must find a way to sacrifice what she holds most dear to her heart.

In the first pages of the story, we are introduced to Ruth and her stalwart ways of following the Ordung or the rules of the Amish. She has raised her children to be wary of the English and to learn to be hard workers around their farm. As their family heads West, she has to learn how to handle her emotions and misgivings around the way of the English. We learn Ruth’s strength early in their trek. In the middle of the Appalachian Mountains, Ruth gives birth to their fifth child, alone, in the wagon. Aaron, so concerned with not missing the wagon train, presses on immediately after the delivery, without concern for Ruth’s healing or needs. Sadly, this is not the only pain and suffering that Ruth will have to endure in the months ahead. Ruth is the epitome of the opening poem in the book:

There is in every true woman,
a fire, dormant
in the light of prosperity,
which blazes the dark hour. 
– Washington Irving
Just when I thought Ruth couldn’t bear another setback, she proves that she can and will. Ruth and Aaron’s sweet daughter Esther is wise beyond her four-year-old years and is truly the light in the story. Ruth will live in my heart for a long time. Her strength, perseverance, faith and fortitude during some of the greatest struggles in her life are lessons for us all. Moore leaves you hanging with the ending, but with a smile in your heart.  

E.B. Moore has written her first novel at the age of 72 based on family stories of her ancestors.  She has written with such eloquence, emotion, and attention to detail that I hope she has many more books left in her to write. I grew up near an Amish community and was always fascinated by their lifestyle. Now, as a wife and a mother, I am in awe of their daily routine and the amount of work that goes into their day. I am even a bit envious of their simple life at times, wishing for quiet evenings around the table and playing games with the kids. Moore’s book reminds you of both of those parts of the Amish life and the harsh realities of the pioneers who traveled to find their dreams in the West. This piece of our history reminds us of our ancestors and their steadfast dreams for our futures. 

E. B. Moore was born on a farm near New Hope, PA, and is a recent graduate of the Novel Incubator program at Grub Street, Boston’s independent writing center. A retired metal sculptor, she is also a graduate of the school of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Moore’s first book of poetry, New Eden: A Legacy was published by Finishing Line Press in 2009. Her work has appeared in literary journals including The Drum and Inkwell, as well as two anthologies of writing taken from the William Joiner Workshops. She has been a resident at Yaddo, and was accepted to the Vermont Studio Center residency on full fellowship. AN UNSEEMLY WIFE is based on the life of her Old Order Amish great-grandmother, who left Pennsylvania with a wagon train.

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Thanks to Penguin Random House for sending me a copy of this book for review. This review is my honest opinion. I was not compensated in any way for this review. If you choose to purchase this book through the above link, I may receive a small commission without you having to pay a cent more for your purchase. Thanks for supporting reviews. 
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