If you received a true anonymous letter stating that you were mistakenly changed at birth and biologically belong to Amish parents, would you seek to find them? This is the premise of the new book of fiction, A simple and extravagant Christmas by Cynthia Keller.
Two babies were born several days apart in a hospital in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, thirty years ago. Both were named Rachel, one of the Kings, a local Amish family. The other Rachel (aka Ellie) was born to Gil and Nina Lawrence from New York City. Nina had gone into labor while traveling around town.
Violet, a neonatal nurse, became romantically involved with, and eventually married, and then fifty-year-old assistant pediatrician Paul Thornton. A closed alcoholic, he flagrantly changed both babies at the hospital. Both were silent for the sake of their career.
Now, after Dr. Thornton passes by and faces her own mortality, Violet writes a cathartic letter informing the two women what happened thirty years ago: "Two women in two different states would receive the same letter. So she could breathe freely. lastly, knowing that she had done what she should have done so long ago. "
Discovering their lineage, each woman confirms things about her essence. Ellie abhors clutter and clutter, a key feature of the Amish. Rachel has always questioned the way her family lives, her faith, and her place in the world.
Rachel Yoder (Rachel's husband Jacob died three years ago of cancer, and she and eleven-year-old daughter Katie have returned to live on King's farm) are impressed by the letter's revelations; still chooses to remain silent.
Ellie Lawrence, however, is intrigued by her genealogy; and decides to continue to know his biologically amish parents.
Rachel receives a letter from Ellie about her intentions; and she is forced to expose the hospital accident to her family.
The kings agree with Ellie's visit. Wanting to spend more time with the kings later, Ellie asks for a week's stay at the farm. The kings oblige. While there, she finds herself dressing more simply, wearing less makeup, and participating in the milking of cows at 4:30 am. She also enjoys the respite from her position as vice president at a Manhattan public relations firm: "No office politics, no gossip, no pleasing people she couldn't stand."
Rachel is shamefully aware of her jealousy of Ellie; and realizes that she is also free to explore her heritage. The Lawrences welcome your midweek visit with your dear new granddaughter, Katie.
The pair are watered with adoration by the Lawrence clan as they sip tea at the Plaza Hotel and tour the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty.
After her weeklong visit with the kings, Ellie determines that she wants more time with them. She meets Rachel and reveals her intentions, a bold act strange to Rachel. "I wish we were friends. Ellie's tone was melancholy. But it doesn't seem to be working that way. Why pretend?"
Ellie suggests that Rachel and her daughter Katie rent their Manhattan apartment and relate to the Lawrences. After much contemplation, Rachel agrees, to the dismay of her parents, that they oppose taking Katie off to live in the big city.
Katie's exposure to life in the cities proves less than ideal. On the other hand, Rachel realizes her dormant desire for education beyond the standard eighth grade schooling at Amish.
Ellie's new Amish life offers continuous new experiences, including a new occupation and romance.
Many authors write fiction based on the Amish culture, but few capture the depth of the plot like Keller. A simple and extravagant Christmas Creatively combines the stories to produce an enriching reading of the holiday.
Discover the Internet radio program dedicated to Amish Shapes at: http://toginet.com/shows/amishwisdom.