Category Archives: Book Previews

Bestow On Us Your Grace – Chapter One

Tomorrow is the day! Join us at Thistles in Pella from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. to celebrate the release of Bestow On Us Your Grace with Jean De Vries and the Write Place team. You’ll also be able to grab other Write Place titles—our entire inventory is on sale just in time for the holidays!

To get you excited to pick up your signed copy of Bestow On Us Your Grace, here’s a sneak peek of the first chapter of the book!

 

Mary leaned far over the table, stretching to place the bowl of steaming mashed potatoes in the center. Footsteps sounded on the wraparound porch just moments before the screen door screeched its own announcement, then slammed shut. Following closely behind, louder thudding footsteps sounded against the floor boards and the door screeched open again. Her young daughters quickly finished setting the silverware on the dining room table and sat down, looking so small in the high-backed chairs. The sound of boots being peeled off and thumping to the floor was soon followed by water splashing down over what she knew would be dirty hands and forearms.

She stood upright when Daniel came in the room, his face already smiling above his beard, his eyes glancing from the table to her and meeting her gaze. Even after all these years, she found it impossible not to smile back into his dancing eyes, crinkled at the corners. Caleb slipped quietly behind his father and sat eagerly in his place between the wide window and the table that stretched along it. Mary was giving Caleb a disapproving look as he pulled the platter of fried chicken close to him when she saw a shadow fall across the table. Silas walked around behind her, his silhouette stretching far across the kitchen and into the living room.

She watched him lower into the ladder-back chair across from Caleb and shook her head in wonder. It never ceased to amaze her how one day they went from looking so small, as four-year-old Anna Mae did now, to growing up so quickly that they towered over their parents. All of her sons had passed her up. Three of them now stood every bit as tall as or taller than their father’s six feet. Only Caleb still looked up to speak to Daniel, though it wouldn’t be long before even that would change. At the age of fourteen, he was following in his brothers’ large footsteps.

Mary turned to Amy, her eldest daughter, as she set the plate of freshly sliced bread on the table and took her place next to Caleb. Mary quickly sat and looked across the table to where Daniel was waiting. With a nod, they dropped their heads simultaneously in silent prayer. At her husband’s intake of breath, their heads raised and Caleb began eagerly filling his plate.

She’d heard of some Amish families who ate in silence, spending their mealtime eating instead of talking. But she’d always been thankful for Daniel’s love of storytelling and conversation. The chatter around their table whenever they were gathered was boisterous and lively. Though there were many times she had to remind the little ones to keep eating, she’d never minded much. The reward was hearing about their day and getting a window into their minds and hearts. Tonight, the discussion was about the frogs Caleb had discovered down at the creek that afternoon. It wasn’t long before he had his three sisters excited about a trip to the creek after supper. Silas, ever the quiet one, listened and smiled at their excitement but said little. Nothing unusual there. His older brothers, David and Michael, had been and were still so unlike him. Silas was an ocean of perfectly still water while they were bubbling brooks.

Anna Mae and Shelby Jo were bouncing in their chairs while Caleb quickly shoveled mouthfuls of sour cream chocolate cake into his mouth. With a smile and a nod from Daniel, their chairs scraped back across the floor and four of her children went racing outside. Even seventeen-year-old Amy followed, the bottoms of her bare feet flashing white beneath her dark blue skirt as she ran. Silas calmly sat and slowly ate his dessert. “Joseph King was asking me why you haven’t been at the Singings lately,” Daniel said to Silas, who was seated close to him.

Mary stood and quietly worked at clearing off the table and doing the dishes. Her ears were carefully tuned to listen for Silas’s response. They needn’t have been. He gave none.

“Yer brothers were building houses and planning weddings by your age,” Daniel said with a smile. It could have been taken as a cruel statement, but Daniel’s easy way and gentle smile showed his lighthearted intention.

Silas simply stared at the patterns in the wood grain of the handmade table in front of him and shrugged.

David and Michael had both taken wives at the age of twenty. Silas would be twenty-one within the week. Certainly not a cause for concern but for the fact that he did not seem at all interested in such an endeavor. For the past several months he hadn’t even been going to Singings on Sunday nights, as was typical for single boys his age. It was how the Amish young people socialized and found marriage partners. That Silas wouldn’t go was…a puzzle to her.

Daniel was undeterred by Silas’s lack of conversation. “Joseph’s daughter, Emily, seems a nice young woman. She’s about your age, isn’t she?”

Silas only nodded. Though now, Mary observed, he looked visibly uncomfortable. Mary knew Emily King. And though she was nearly twenty years old, she was still unattached and a sweet girl. Emily was a fine baker, famous for her coffee cakes, and Mary had noticed at several quilting frolics how fine her stitching was. She had a quiet, gentle, and shy way about her, much like Silas. She’d make a gut Amish wife.

“Oh well, perhaps she’ll wait for our Caleb,” Daniel teased and smiled at Mary. She watched as Silas’s mouth tried to grin, but he gave up. Silas caught her watching him and quickly averted his gaze out the window.

“Perhaps Silas has his sights set on someone else,” Mary lightly reminded Daniel.

Daniel turned his gaze back to Silas, his brow raised in a question.

“No,” Silas answered.

“Amy would appreciate yer going to Singings again. She doesn’t like to drive herself, especially when it’s a long ways,” Mary encouraged.

Silas was again silent, staring out the window with a determined
set to his face.

“Speaking of Amy, I should go down to the creek and fetch her and the children back. They and their muddy, frog-filled pockets.” Daniel winked at Mary. His boots made loud, slow stomping sounds down the front porch steps. Silas stood to follow him.

“You’d like being married, Silas,” Mary called to him, stopping him at the door. “Someone to help ya with yer work. Someone to talk to, raise a family with.”

She watched his shoulders rise and fall in a silent sigh. “Yes, Mama,” he said without turning to face her. Mary watched Silas walk slowly away to the refuge of his workshop.

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Bestow On Us Your Grace – Prologue

There are less than two weeks to go until the book signing for our 2016 Book Contest winner by Jean De Vries! To tide you over until December 3, here is a sneak peek at the prologue of Bestow On Us Your Grace. Check back on December 2 for an exclusive look at Chapter One!

Prologue

Kirsten stood in the doorway of her mother’s room, barely able to make out the shape of her body huddled beneath the blankets. Despite the dark, it was only 6:30 in the evening, the winter sun having gone down an hour ago. Kirsten listened and was relieved to hear only the sound of her mother’s quiet breathing. Last night her mother had woken her with her sobbing, and Kirsten had crawled into her parents’ bed, wrapping her eight–year-old arms around her mother. Suddenly, strangely, their roles had been reversed.

She turned from the door and went to the dark living room, picking up an overdue library book and flicking on the lamp beside the couch. She grabbed a box of cereal out of the cupboard and sat down, crunching through the Fruit Loops as she slowly turned the illustrated pages. Turning on the television was out of the question. Nothing was worth waking her mother. Even worse was the pain of watching commercials and sitcoms full of happy children with their fathers.

A strange clattering outside brought Kirsten to the living room window. No headlights or sound of an engine. Only the black form of a horse shifting slightly, a shadowy buggy behind it. The doorbell’s piercing chime startled her, even though she was expecting it. Ever since that police officer rang the doorbell just days ago, the sound had become an ominous source of fear. Kirsten’s mother shuffled around the corner and turned robotically to the door, her face void of expression. It was either all emotion or none the past few days.

“Hello, Mary.” Her mom’s voice sounded hollow and wooden as she stood in the doorway, one hand still clutching the doorknob for support. Kirsten silently stepped beside her and wrapped her arm around her mother’s leg, staring wide-eyed at a woman in a long dress who was standing on their front step holding a covered basket.

“Elizabeth,” the bonnet-headed woman said, blinking slowly. “We are so very sorry for yer loss.”

Her mother nodded. Why was she nodding? Daddy wasn’t lost. Kirsten knew precisely where he was. In a hole in the ground at the cemetery in town.

Kirsten’s mother accepted the basket from the woman. She’d seen others dressed like her before, of course. They lived all around. In fact, it was Kirsten and her family who were the oddity in this particular area of the county.

The woman turned to look for a long moment at Kirsten, who stared back up at her. Kirsten saw there the same expression all the grown-ups gave her lately. No one smiled at her anymore.

“May you find comfort and strength in the Lord,” the woman said, turning her attention slowly back to Kirsten’s mother.

“Thank you,” Elizabeth mumbled. Kirsten could feel her mother’s leg tremble and gripped tighter. Slowly, Elizabeth shut the door and turned to stumble back toward her room, pulling away from Kirsten’s grasp. She carelessly dropped the basket in the middle of the living room floor. Kirsten went to watch out the window as the woman climbed back into the buggy. The horse started forward in a slow circle and left the yard.

“Mom?” she said, turning to see that Elizabeth had nearly reached the doorway to her room. “Why don’t they drive a car?”

Her mother stopped and spoke over her shoulder. “They don’t have one.”

“Why not?”

“They’re Amish.”

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