Latest Olivia Newport Release: Gladden the Heart (Plus Giveaway)


A sleeping preacher? There couldn’t really be such a thing, could there?

That’s the question in Gladden the Heart. In the nineteenth century, amid revivalism movements, a number of religious groups experienced preachers who seemed to fall into trances or into unconsciousness and wake up to preach for lengthy periods of time. Despite having no training as preachers, they gathered followings. This happened even among the Amish.

But could this be genuine? Could the lively, impassioned style of preaching more akin to the Methodist revival tents than the usual solemn ways of Amish worship lead to genuine spiritual experience? In Gladden the Heart, as some Amish become curious, they find themselves wondering: What is a genuine spiritual experience?

The question turns personal for Susanna when her beloved cousin Noah begins preaching while under trances and crowds gather to watch. She and Adam, her intended, must grapple with whether love is possible if they come to different conclusions.

When the 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 latest in the Amish Turns of Time series that began with Wonderful Lonesome. To celebrate the new story, enter to win a copy of Wonderful Lonesome, where it all started, or a copy of Gladden the Heart.

To enter, leave a comment and let us know which book  you would love to win. Two winners will be selected at random and announced on Wednesday June 14th!


*Giveaway starts today, Tuesday, June 6th and ends Tuesday, June 13th and is only open to US residents*

The five titles in the Amish Turns of Time series include Wonderful Lonesome, Meek and Mild, Brightest and Best, Hope in the Land, and Gladden the Heart. Olivia Newport chases joy in Colorado at the foot of the Rockies, where daylilies grow as tall as she is.

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Why Amish Children Go to Their Own Schools by Olivia Newport

If I say, “Amish school,” what do you think of? I’m going to guess that two things pop into your mind. First, that Amish students leave school after eighth grade, and second, that they study in a private one-room schoolhouse with an Amish teacher.

These things haven’t always been true. In fact, before the 1950s, most Amish children attended public schools and learned their lessons alongside non-Amish children. Before the 1930s, this was almost always the case.

In the rural schools, teachers knew the families. Amish parents served on the local school boards and had input into the curriculum they considered appropriate for their children to study. But these things were also true for non-Amish parents. In rural areas, this was the way children went to school, and their parents could decide when it was time for them to leave school. In farming communities, families faced the same needs for help from their children at planting and harvest times and shared a sense of what was essential for children to learn to succeed in the farming life.

The change came when school districts began consolidating—closing one-room schoolhouses and instead transporting children to larger schools in towns, where they were divided into grades. At the same time, states began establishing firmer attendance rules and laws stipulating that students must attend school at least until age sixteen or eighteen. The advantage, in the view of the states, was that the consolidated schools could offer instruction in more subjects, such as art, music, and health.

Now Amish parents had a problem. They had no opportunity to speak into the curriculum, and they had no assurance that teachers would be inclined to understand their concerns.

The schools argued that they were better preparing students for real life in the real world. Amish parents countered that they wanted to prepare their children for eternity, not for the world.

This went on for decades, until finally in 1972 the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that Amish children could end their education at age fourteen.

This is the backdrop for Brightest and Best, the third book in the Amish Turns of Time series. Here’s the back cover copy:

Ella Hilty’s deepest desire is to marry Gideon Wittmer and be a mother to his three children. But before the betrothal and ceremony take place, Ella’s 1918 Ohio Amish community gets caught in a storm of controversy when English government authorities dictate that Amish children must attend consolidated public schools rather than their one-room schoolhouse.

English schoolteacher Margaret Simpson had given up thoughts of marriage years ago, and she’s content with her peaceful life. But a budding romance and conflict with the neighboring Amish community lead Margaret down a path that she never expected.

Citing freedom of religion rights, Amish parents stand their ground against progressive English laws that threaten to erode their culture and beliefs beyond recognition, but their stance doesn’t come without consequences. Where is the balance between submission to God and submission to a God-ordained government that endangers the church?

Soon Margaret puts her last chance for romance at risk for the only choice her conscience can abide, and all eyes turn to Ella to bring unity to the Amish and understanding to the English.

Brightest and Best released August 1, 2015. Previous titles in the series are Wonderful Lonesome and Meek and Mild.

In addition to the Amish Turns of Time series, Olivia Newport has also written the Valley of Choice series, three Amish novels with intertwining historical and contemporary story threads.

Wonderful Lonesome – Indeed! Review by Susan Ferrell

wonderful-lonesomWhen you get a novel with the front cover showing an Amish woman in the foreground and dry, desolate land as far as the horizon in the background, your mind starts wandering to what it is all about.  Then you couple that with the title, Wonderful Lonesome, and think: This is not your typical Amish fiction novel.  And so was the case with this latest release of Olivia Newport’s first in her Amish Turns of Time series.

Wonderful Lonesome is quite a novel.  It’s set in 1914 Colorado and follows the lives of a small struggling group of Amish settlers.  There is one amongst them, Abbie Weaver, who is determined to make this settlement thrive.  But can she?  The settlement has no minister and the other families are suffering and losing hope.  Even Abbie’s relationship with her love, Willem, is not stable.  How can they possibly make it work?

I was given this book in exchange for my honest review.  I have not read much of Newport’s writings, but I will say this was an interesting read.  Very little is written of the Amish during this time period, let alone in Colorado.  For those reasons alone, it is worth adding to your collection.  I will say that I have become very accustomed to a novel that is wrapped up in a pretty little bow at the end.  This novel does not do that, for which I must give proper accolades to Newport for going against the grain.  But at the end of the day, in my own opinion, I do wish it had been a tad more light-hearted.  Wonderful Lonesome can easily be read as a stand-alone.

Susan Ferrell and her husband make their home in the Atlanta Metro area. Although Susan struggles with chronic migraine headaches, she stays very busy as a stay-at-home mom to one very precocious 5-year old. While catching her breath, she feeds her Amishaholic tendencies by reading vast amounts of Amish literature!

Pick up a copy of Wonderful Lonesome: (Amish Turns of Time) here.