I’m delighted – and honored – today to welcome beloved author Beverly Lewis to the blog to chat about her new Amish romance, The Orchard!
Beverly Lewis is a bestselling and award–winning novelist whose stories have been published in 12 languages and have regularly appeared on numerous bestseller lists, including the New York Times and USA Today. Beverly and her husband, David, live in Colorado, where they enjoy hiking, biking, making music, and spending time with their family.
THE ORCHARD by Beverly Lewis
GENRE: Inspirational Amish Fiction
PUBLISHER: Bethany House
RELEASE DATE: September 6, 2022
“She realized there was peace right here in the midst of this heavenly sort of place, despite the unpredictable storm churning around her family.”
For generations, Ellie Hostetler’s family has tended their Lancaster County orchard, a tradition her twin brother, Evan, will someday continue. Yet when Evan’s draft number is called up in the lottery for the Vietnam War, the family is shocked to learn he has not sought conscientious objector status, despite their Old Order Amish belief in non-resistance. The faraway war that has caused so much turmoil and grief among their Englisher neighbors threatens too close to home.
As Evan departs for boot camp, Ellie confides her disappointment to Sol Bontrager, the brother of her best friend and cousin to her new beau, Menno. In contrast to Evan, Sol is a conscientious objector. Despite Ellie’s attraction to Menno, she finds herself drawn to Sol’s steady presence as they work together in the orchard. Suddenly, it feels as if everything in Ellie’s world is shifting, and the plans she held so dear seem increasingly uncertain. Can she and her family find the courage to face a future unlike any they could have imagined?
“The Orchard is a peaceful, heartwarming romance novel set amid the quiet solitude of an Amish family’s orchard during the Vietnam War.”–Foreword Reviews starred review
Hi Beverly! Welcome to the blog!
Q: The Orchard is set during the Vietnam War. What type of research was required to portray this time period and the impact that the Vietnam War had on the Amish community?
Beverly: I am privileged to have a number of Amish friends who willingly shared with me regarding their own sons’ concerns during this challenging era. Also, my brother–in–law, an Air Force veteran, assisted with research on the non–Amish side of this war and its effects on our soldiers overseas.
Carrie: Family and friends are the best sort of first person research! 🙂
Q: What were the Amish beliefs pertaining to war?
Beverly: Amish embrace nonresistance in all aspects of life, which includes any involvement in military service.
Carrie: I have always found that fascinating…
Q: While Evan joins the military despite his family’s pacifist beliefs, Sol is called a conscientious objector. Can you please explain for my readers what that means?
Beverly: A conscientious objector claims the right to reject or perform military service—including the bearing of arms—on the grounds of freedom of religion, morality, or a belief in pacifism.
Carrie: Something that took a whole different kind of courage, but courage nonetheless, to stand for their beliefs.
Q: How did Englishers perceive and react to Amish claiming the conscientious objector status?
Beverly: During the Vietnam War, many non–Amish (Englishers) despised COs and targeted them in violent ways, as well as made them feel guilty for not serving their country in a military capacity.
Carrie: definitely a complex issue!
Q: Your female protagonist, Ellie Hostetler, and her family are facing the effects of the Vietnam War. What will readers learn about the way the Amish handled both the war and their ever–changing world?
Beverly: Readers will experience what Ellie and her neighbor–friend Sol must endure when the “outside world” clashes with the peaceful world of the orchard. Despite the Hostetlers’ embrace of pacifism, their customer base is at risk due to Evan’s radical decision to fight in the war.
Carrie: sounds like impacting ripples for either decision – to fight or to embrace nonresistance.
Q: How does your background influence your writing?
Beverly: My mother’s mother was Old Order Mennonite, so the Anabaptist heritage is embedded in my DNA. Also, having grown up around the Amish of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, I am familiar with the Plain culture and traditions and have a great affinity for the Amish and Mennonite people, many of whom are close friends, or even relatives.
Carrie: I learned two new things about you!
Q: Besides the family connection, what do you love most about writing Amish fiction?
Beverly: It’s difficult to narrow down, but the close–knit family life; delicious, homemade foods (which I enjoy describing in my novels); and the Amish’s exemplary traits of kindness, forgiveness and generosity.
Carrie: that’s partly why i love reading it too!
Q: What lessons can be found for readers throughout the pages of The Orchard?
Beverly: Themes of mercy and forgiveness, love for God and family, and divine providence are evident in the pages of The Orchard. After reading the manuscript, one of my research consultants commented, “What a great book to express the peaceful stance of the Amish people . . . and the devastation of war.”
Carrie: i love that!
Bethany House is offering a print copy of The Orchard by Beverly Lewis to TWO of my readers! (US only. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.) This giveaway is subject to Reading Is My SuperPower’s giveaway policies which can be found here. Enter via the Rafflecopter form below.
What about you? What makes you want to read The Orchard by Beverly Lewis?