Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Author JUDITH MILLER--"Home to Amana" inspirational fiction series set in real-life, unique, historical "Amana Colonies"

The Amana Colonies were founded in Iowa in the mid-1800s, but the idea began in Germany in the early 18th century. A group of individuals who believed in renewal of faith through reflection, prayer, and Bible study formed a group which became known as the Community of True Inspiration. Eventually the group left Germany to seek freedom to observe their beliefs, and they first arrived in New York in the mid-nineteenth century. As the community grew, they sought larger parcels of land, and they found one valley on the Iowa River to be ideal with fertile soil, stone, wood and water sufficient for their needs. In time, seven villages were established. The residents of the communities were given a home, medical care, meals, all household necessities, and schooling for their children. All properties and resources were shared. The men and women of the villages worked assigned jobs chosen by the village council of brethren. There were no wages--funds were pooled and distributed as needed in the community. Today, The Amana Colonies are a National Historic Landmark, and the sites continue to draw many thousands of visitors each year.
A Hidden Truth (Home to Amana, #1)
In the closed communities of the Amana Colonies, hidden truths are about to change everything for two young women....

East Amana, Iowa

When Karlina Richter discovers that a new shepherd will be sent to her village, she fears she'll no longer be allowed to help her father with the sheep. She'll be relegated back to kitchen work, stuck inside all day. Her fears increase when the new shepherd shows little interest in the flock--or in divulging why he's suddenly been sent to East. Is he keeping secrets that will impact Karlina's family?

Dovie Cates visits the Amana Colonies to learn more about the place where her mother grew up. But when Dovie begins to ask questions about her mother's past, no one seems willing to reveal anything, so she decides to take matters into her own hands. Will the answers she finds spell disaster for her future plans and the longings of her heart?
Author Judith Miller begins her "Home to Amana" series with "A Hidden Truth", in which two young women discover unexpected truths along with a family connection. After the death of her mother, Dovie Cates longs to know more about her own heritage and about her mother's past life in the Amana Colonies. When her father informs her that they must move from Ohio to Texas in order for him to keep his job, Dovie asks if she may instead visit East Amana, Iowa. Her father agrees, and Dovie sends a letter to the only relative of her mother's whose name she knows, and hopes that the woman still lives in East Amana. Karlina Richter is intrigued by the letter her family receives from a cousin whom she had not known existed. Karlina prefers the outdoor life and tending sheep over housekeeping and cooking, but the thought of having another young woman living in her house made her happy. She was eager for companionship and news of the world outside the communal life of the colonies. When Dovie arrives in East Amana, her search for information about her mother is met mostly with silence, making her mother's youthful years even more of a mystery. While Karlina and Dovie are getting to know each other and becoming friends, each of them meets a young man who may change their lives forever. When all truths are revealed, will Dovie have the answers she has long sought, and will they gladden her heart? Will Karlina find someone who accepts her as she is and shares her hopes for the future? Step back in time with author Judith Miller as she offers a glimpse into a unique time and place in American history.

Review Copy Gratis Bethany House Books
A Simple Change (Home to Amana #2)
Judith Miller's Novels Offer a Fascinating Look inside the Amana Colonies

Joining the communal society of the Amana Colonies isn't what Jancey Rhoder planned for her future, but when unforeseen circumstances force her family to make some difficult decisions, she chooses to give up her teaching position in a Kansas City orphanage and move with her parents to Iowa.

Her besotted suitor, Nathan Woodward, isn't at all happy about the move and is determined to get Jancey to change her mind. And Jancey herself isn't sure what she's gotten herself into when the simple life of the Amana Colonies means she'll be assigned a job and may have to give up teaching for good. Will Nathan woo her back to the city, or will she be forever changed by the mysterious events and new relationships that await her in the quiet villages of the Amana Colonies--and decide to make this unique place her forever home?
"A Simple Change" leads to a world of new experiences for one young woman in Book Two of author Judith Miller's "Home to Amana" series. Jancey Rhoder is happy living with her parents, Almina and Jurgen, in Kansas City, Missouri. The Rhoders want for nothing due to success in business, and Jancey is devoted to the children at the charity home where she volunteers as a teacher. However, the failing health of her mother brings about a life-changing decision for the Rhoder family. Her parents decide to sell their business and return to their homeplace of the Amana Colonies. They will sell their house unless Jancey wants to stay in Kansas City. Jancey is torn--should she leave her beloved teaching job and go with her parents? What of her beau, Nathan Woodward? Nathan, who works for her father, is a persistent suitor, but Jancey has been unsure of her own feelings. Jancey follows her heart, unwilling to leave her mother while she is ill, and makes the journey with her parents to Middle Amana. Life in the communal society is quite an adjustment. Women are not allowed to teach, and work is assigned by the village elders. Jancey is given the job of cleaning the boarding house for the outside workers. The Rhoders share a house with the Hertig family, having their own apartment on the lower floor. The Hertigs make them welcome, and their son Ritter, known as Ritt, takes an immediate interest in Jancey. As time passes, and Jancey spends more time around Ritt, her feelings for Nathan become even more unsure. Through his letters, Nathan continues to press Jancey to return to Kansas City. Eventually, he surprises Jancey by coming to Middle Amana to work in the local mill. The differences between Ritt and Nathan quickly become obvious, and Jancey is now sure that she was right in not agreeing to marry Nathan. Complicating matters even further is photograph that Jancey found while cleaning the men's quarters. The photo is of a young girl standing in front of the very charity home where Jancey used to teach in Kansas City. Soon, Jancey is involved in more than one mystery, and not everyone is whom they first appeared to be. Will the secrets Jancey discovers bring harm to the community, and will those same secrets destroy her chance for a happy future with Ritt? "A Simple Change" is an intriguing look at a completely unique chapter of American history, with added elements of suspense and romance.
Review Copy Gratis Bethany House Books
A Shining Light (Home to Amana #3)
When Andrea Wilson receives the devastating news that her husband has been lost at sea, she decides to return home to Iowa with her young son. But what she finds there is equally terrible: the family farm has burned and her father has died, leaving Andrea with few options. Relying on the kindness of the members of the Amana Colonies, she accepts their offer to live among them until she can make plans for her future. Andrea discovers so much goodness and contentment among the Amana people that she doesn’t want to leave, especially since the strong, kind tinsmith, a man named Dirk, has captured her heart. But is this cloistered life what she wants for her and her son’s future? Is she prepared to give up the comforts and freedom of the outside world? And when yet another wave of shocking news comes her way, will Andrea ever find the serenity and hope that have eluded her for so long?
Judith McCoy Miller

Judith McCoy Miller is an award-winning author whose avid research and love for history are reflected in her bestselling novels. Judy and her husband make their home in Topeka, Kansas.

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