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A Plain & Fancy Christmas: A Novel by…
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A Plain & Fancy Christmas: A Novel

by Cynthia Keller

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Raised in a close-knit Amish family, Rachel Yoder did toy with the idea of not returning from her Rumspringa but she did, marrying Jacob. Jacob is dead now and Rachel and her daughter Katie have returned home to help her family. In New York, Ellie Shore is consumed with her public relations career to the point she ignores her love life and family at times. The two seemingly have little in common but when they discover they were switched shortly after birth and sent home with the wrong family, each decides to live with their biological families for a while to get a taste of what their life might have been like. Each of them will find themselves and their lives forever changed.

"A Plain and Fancy Christmas" is an interesting, at times thought provoking, novel about two women whose worlds unexpectedly collide. Author Cynthia Keller does lean a bit toward making the Amish lifestyle seem more appealing but she does do an excellent job of showing how such news can initially shatter each family yet ultimately pull them together and perhaps make them stronger. I thought the novel got off to a bit of a slow start as Keller built the characters of Rachel and Ellie, but once the switched at birth thing was brought into the book the pace picked up quickly and the book became quite interesting. Keller does an excellent job of showing how Rachel and Ellie cope in their new worlds (again since Keller seems to lean towards the Amish lifestyle, Ellie seems to adjust more easily than Rachel). The characters may handle the situation a bit too easily (Rachel and Ellie do seem to struggle with their changes - Rachel especially so - but their families accept things far too easily) but it is a Christmas novel after all. While Keller does guarantee a happy ending for all, she puts in an unexpected twist not seen in many Amish novels which is a very nice touch.

"A Plain and Fancy Christmas" is a nice holiday novel. ( )
  drebbles | Sep 16, 2013 |
Think about what you would do, if as an adult, you discovered that your whole life was built on a lie. What if everything you believed in – your family, your faith, even your aspirations as encouraged by your parents – really weren’t your own? What if you suddenly discovered why you didn’t look like your siblings or parents, why you always felt like somehow you didn’t belong, why you vaguely seemed to be missing something in life? How would you react if at age 30, you discovered that as an infant you were given to the wrong parents by a doctor at the hospital where you were born? This is the dilemma faced by two woman; one born Amish but raised by “English” parents, one born “English” but raised Amish – a situation known only by one doctor and his wife, a nurse, and only brought to light when the dying nurse confessed her deceased husband’s long buried secret. The author does a remarkable job in conveying the anguish both families go through, trying to understand and cope with this most unusual turn of events. A well crafted story, this tale will make you ponder just how much of our personalities are formed by heredity and not necessarily by environment. ( )
  Maydacat | Jun 22, 2012 |
In "A Plain & Fancy Christmas", Cynthia Keller offers a very intriguing human quandary in an unusual setting. I believe that who we become as individuals is as much a matter of our environment as it is our genetic heritage. This is a "switched at birth story" with a twist: at birth, the daughter of an Amish couple is given to a well-heeled New York family, and the city baby goes home to be raised in the Amish community. Both of the girls are fortunate to have loving family homes, yet each of them yearns for something unknown to make them feel complete. When the widow of the doctor who made the mistake in a drunken stupor actually reveals the secret thirty years later, many lives are changed forever. Ellie is the Amish girl raised as a New Yorker, and Rachel is the city girl raised among the Amish. After they meet face to face, they eventually decide to try on each other's lifestyle for size. The characters are appealing, the story line offers much food for thought, and the ending is satisfying and seasonal. This is a somewhat slow read, but it is eventually quite worth staying with until the end. How would any of us handle this total life upheaval? Haven't you ever wondered what your life would be like if you had different parents, and were raised in a completely different environment? If so, then you will very much enjoy "A Plain & Fancy Christmas".

Review Copy Gratis Amazon Vine ( )
  gincam | Dec 3, 2011 |
When two baby girls are born in the same hospital, just two days apart, they are mixed up at the time their mother's were discharged for home. Each girl was raised in the home the other should have been raised in. Their destinies forever altered, each girl named Rachel, lived thirty years unknowing of the situation.

When a death bed confession brings light to the hidden secret of the mix -up, lives are once more altered.

What could have been a devastation forever changes who each woman thinks she really is.

This book brought laughter. And tears.

This was a read you simply did not want to set down!

I give this book Five Stars and my Thumbs Up Award!

****DISCLOSURE: This book was provided at no charge from the Amazon Vine program for independent, non-biased review. ( )
  texicanwife | Oct 25, 2011 |
What would you do if you found out your parents were not YOUR parents. What if you found out that instead of being a Professional in NYC, you were supposed to be a plain Amish woman?

That's what happened to Rachel & Ellie.

An alcoholic doctor on his second strike, mistakenly sends baby Ellie to Manhattan with the Lawrence family. Rachel is sent to Lancaster Co. P.A. to be raised Amish.

Rachel is still reeling from the loss of her husband and is raising her daughter Katie. Rachel has always felt that she did not fit in the Amish life. As a child she was always questioning and had a hard time following the strict rules. If it wasn't for her husband she might have not returned to the community to be baptized.

Ellie wants to meet her biological parents, not that she doesn't love the parents that raised her. She is stressed out and over worked. She is starting to question her choices in her life. She wants to get married and have children.

The closer that Ellie gets to her Amish family, the more Rachel feels jealous. Though Rachel is becoming closer to her English family she feels torn between her Amish upbringing and her desire to learn.

This was a great and uplifting book. ( )
  bella55075 | Oct 25, 2011 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0345528751, Hardcover)

Raised in a Pennsylvania Amish community, young mother Rachel Yoder has led a simple life within her close-knit family. Widowed three years ago, she has moved back in with her parents, attempting to raise her daughter, Katie, without further emotional upheaval. Meanwhile, four hours and a whole world away in New York City, Ellie Lawrence is laser-focused on a high-powered public relations career, with too little time for her family, her friends, or even her boyfriend.

Then one fateful day, these two very different women receive shocking news of a mistake made three decades earlier and long kept hidden: Shortly after their births, the two were accidentally switched in the hospital. Shaken to the core by this momentous news, Rachel and Ellie are plunged into an exploration of who they are and where they really belong. While Ellie is eager to learn more about her Amish family and their life in the countryside, Rachel cannot help but feel jealous as she watches the only mother she has ever known bonding so easily with her natural daughter. But Rachel also knows that her own biological family is out there, and with Katie at her side she heads for Manhattan, where she establishes a connection with the raucous, spirited Lawrences.

As Ellie and Rachel make their way through unfamiliar landscapes, they face life-altering challenges and grapple with a crucial question: Will their old conventions and desires give way to new customs and yearnings? With the Christmas holidays fast approaching, it takes the love of two families for Rachel and Ellie to discover their own paths to fulfillment and happiness.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:10 -0400)

"Raised in a Pennsylvania Amish community, young mother Rachel Yoder has led a simple life within her close-knit family. Widowed three years ago, she has moved back in with her parents, attempting to raise her daughter, Katie, without further emotional upheaval. Meanwhile, four hours and a whole world away in New York City, Ellie Lawrence is laser-focused on a high-powered public relations career, with too little time for her family, her friends, or even her boyfriend. Then one fateful day, these two very different women receive shocking news of a mistake made three decades earlier and long kept hidden: Shortly after their births, the two were accidentally switched in the hospital. Shaken to the core by this momentous news, Rachel and Ellie are plunged into an exploration of who they are and where they really belong. While Ellie is eager to learn more about her Amish family and their life in the countryside, Rachel cannot help but feel jealous as she watches the only mother she has ever known bonding so easily with her natural daughter. But Rachel also knows that her own biological family is out there, and with Katie at her side she heads for Manhattan, where she establishes a connection with the raucous, spirited Lawrences. As Ellie and Rachel make their way through unfamiliar landscapes, they face life-altering challenges and grapple with a crucial question: Will their old conventions and desires give way to new customs and yearnings? With the Christmas holidays fast approaching, it takes the love of two families for Rachel and Ellie to discover their own paths to fulfillment and happiness"--… (more)

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