Book Review (and a Giveaway!): Gladden the Heart by Olivia Newport

Posted July 7, 2017 by meezcarrie in Amish, Christian, giveaway, Olivia Newport / 16 Comments

about the book

“When you have experienced the Holy Ghost as I have, you would see that it is difficult to turn back.”

When the lively fervor of nineteenth century revivalism endangers the staid customs of the Amish community in the lush but rugged Kishacoquillas Valley of central Pennsylvania in 1847, the Amish church must deal with a divisive question: What is a genuine spiritual experience?

The question turns personal when Susanna’s beloved cousin Noah begins preaching while under trances and even though he is not a minister he gives long sermons that attract increasing attention. Curious, she helps to keep Noah safe during his trances. At the same time Adam, Susanna’s intended, feels pressure from the bishop to speak out against the ways of revivalism.

Susanna and Adam are pushed to opposite sides of a controversy that threatens their traditional Amish faith..  Now they must grapple with whether love is possible…even if they come to different conclusions.

When Noah goes missing at a time of day when he often preaches while asleep, circumstances thrust community members with divergent opinions into a crisis that demands they recognize the humanity they share regardless of beliefs.  But can strong-held opinions be softened by the truths that shape their lives?

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SERIES: Amish Turns of Time #5
GENRE: Amish Historical
PUBLISHER: Shiloh Run Press
RELEASE DATE: July 1, 2017
PAGES: 320

Other Books In This Series

“… the beauty of faith can truly gladden the heart.”

What a thought-provoking book. Immediately after finishing Gladden the Heart by Olivia Newport, I wanted to go back and read certain sections again because they gave me much to mull over in my own heart.

When we first started working with Internationals, my husband and I had to wrestle with many of the same issues. What does it look like, for instance, when someone comes to a relationship with Jesus without saying the ‘right’ prayer and/or without automatically believing everything you tell them is true? Are they any less ‘saved’ than I am because I knelt at the front of a church and prayed a certain prayer and didn’t question what I was told about God and His Word? Such determinations require much prayer, much consideration, and much dying to your own need to fit God into a denomination-sized box.

In the case of Gladden the Heart, what does it mean when an Amish layperson suddenly begins preaching – especially when that preaching sounds more like what they would hear from the Methodist revival services than their own meetings? I won’t give spoilers, of course, but I will say that (as you can probably guess) it causes no small amount of disturbance.

There are many things I really enjoyed about Gladden the Heart.

  • Being a descendant of a prolific Methodist circuit rider/preacher myself, I found Charles Baxton to be completely fascinating.
  • His daughter Patsy and I are kindred spirits, as I feel certain that she too wanted to purse whomp Bishop Shem as well as Susanna’s mother.
  • The history and time period in which Gladden the Heart is set mirrors that of Naomi’s Hope by Jan Drexler, which I reviewed here earlier this week. It was interesting to see ‘the other side of the story’, so to speak – with insight into why at least some of the Pennsylvania Amish may have felt compelled to migrate to Indiana, etc.
  • Niklaus. Amish or not, he seeks God’s heart and His Word over tradition.

Bottom Line: Gladden the Heart by Olivia Newport is intriguing in its history and may cause some modern day soul-searching, too. The romance between Adam and Susanna, in my opinion, was not so much a focus of the story as it was another way to show the effect of the spiritual matters with which they wrestled. It could have been absent from the story altogether, and I still would have enjoyed this read! In the Amish Turns of Time series, I have been most intrigued by the Amish and English interactions, especially as one causes the other to adjust their firmly-held ideals. Gladden the Heart is no exception, and I know I will be thinking about it for a long while.

(I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the author. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.)

My Rating: 4 stars / Very intriguing!

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about the author

Olivia Newport’s novels twist through time to discover where faith and passions meet. She chases joy in Colorado at the foot of the Rockies, where daylilies grow as tall as she is. Her books include the Avenue of Dreams series set in 1890s Chicago; the Valley of Choice series, which intertwines contemporary and historical Amish stories; the historical Amish Turns of Time series; and Hidden Falls, a warm, contemporary, small-town novel.

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Sleepy Sundays

Now don’t laugh, but my guess is that if you looked around your church on any given Sunday morning, you’d see somebody sleeping. It might be an infant or toddler whose nap time collides with the worship time resting in a parent’s arms, or it might be a senior citizen who has perfected the art of dozing in an upright position.

What you don’t expect is that the person sleeping will be the preacher.

I’ve always been interested in church history. I even read a magazine called Christian History on a regular basis and consider it pleasure reading. In my ambling through church history, I came across a notation about “sleeping preachers” in the nineteenth century in various denominations, including the Amish. The accounts suggested that individuals who were not ministers would fall unconscious, wake up to preach for lengthy periods, sleep again, and have no recollection of their actions.

Could this possibly be true? Or a giant hoax? What’s a genuine spiritual experience, and what do we do when don’t agree on how to answer that question? Let’s face it, even now, 150 years later, we still don’t quite know what to do with our varying traditions when we don’t agree on how to answer that question.

I knew I had the makings of a story. Gladden the Heart travels back to 1847 and wrestles with these questions. When a divided community faces a life-or-death situation, they must respond to a crisis that challenges them to look past their differences. But can strong-held opinions be softened by the truths that shape their lives?

Gladden the Heart is the fifth story in Olivia Newport’s Amish Turns of Time series of historical Amish novels. Olivia chases joy in Colorado at the foot of the Rockies, where daylilies grow as tall as she is.

Other Books by Olivia Newport


To celebrate her tour, Olivia is giving away a Grand Prize that consists of:

All five books in the Amish Turns of Time series (
Bonus: All three books in the Valley of Choice series (
$25 Amazon Gift Card!!

Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries!

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This giveaway is hosted by Celebrate Lit. Follow along with the tour for more chances to win!

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16 responses to “Book Review (and a Giveaway!): Gladden the Heart by Olivia Newport

  1. Delsie

    I recently read the novel, Gladden the Heart, and enjoyed it even though I skeptical about the sleeping preacher. Somehow I had missed the fact that it was based on true occurrences and real people, so was happy to read that information in the author’s page at the end of the book. I would love to read the other four books in this series.

    • Carrie

      the other four are really good, also! My favorite of the series is Brightest and Best 🙂

  2. Lori Smanski

    wow this sounds like a fascinating book. some truly great questions seem to come up. would love to read this series

  3. Janet Estridge

    We have Olivia’s books in the church library. Our readers love Amish books and can’t get enough of them.

  4. Kay Garrett

    Thanks for the review! As always, you make me want to read the book – which I did even before your review. 🙂

  5. Jackie Tessnair

    This sounds like a great book.I am looking forward to reading it.Thanks for sharing!

  6. Dianne Casey

    I enjoyed the description of the book. I really like reading Olivia’s books and I’m looking forward to reading “Gladden the Heart”.

  7. Audrey Stewart

    Thank you to this blog for the intro to Olivia Newport and her work. Good job…both of you.

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