Cora, the title character, left her Amish community twenty years ago due to the birth of an out-of-wedlock baby. (Yes, it happens in those communities too.) Cora gave away the baby, refused to name the father, and was shunned by the community.
She went to live as an “Englisher,” the name the Amish have for people living in modern society. When Cora feels the need to reconnect with and reexamine her Amish past in a way that will resonate with any reader older than twenty, there is a subtle yet palpable shift from the vibrant fast-pace of city life to the mysterious romance of nature. Rexford’s descriptive abilities are powerful and bring the reader fully into the sensory elements of a scene. I relished such evocative phrasings as “I heard birdsong, running fox feet crackle the dead ground leaves beneath them [. . .], the drop of a weak branch heavy with ice.” There is a cozy mystery feeling to this story, reminiscent of a Daphne Du Maurier or even an Agatha Christie novel, save with a reflective, religious twist.
Surprisingly, Cora has never left faith even though she has left the Amish. When she decides to return, it is to unravel mysteries of her family’s past as well as of the heart and soul. The reader will appreciate the skillful implications of every decision and thought Cora has.
Rexford presents us with a microcosm of the timeless battle of faith versus faith. She does it with the patient, delicate strokes of a maestro. The picture left in the mind’s eye is unforgettable. This is a book readers will wish to retain on their bookshelves, for it is filled with gorgeous writing. If one reads only one “Amish” novel in a lifetime, this should be it.