Table of Contents
PRAISE FOR THE PLEASANT VALLEY SERIES
“Perry’s realistic characters deal with love and loss in the second Pleasant Valley book. The strong, original plot can be enjoyed as a stand-alone.”
has everything a reader could want—strong, well-defined characters; beautiful, realistic settings; and a thought-provoking plot. Readers of Amish fiction will surely be waiting anxiously for her next book.”
—Shelley Shepard Gray, author of the Sisters of the Heart series
“A knowing and careful look into Amish culture and faith. A truly enjoyable reading experience.”
—Angela Hunt, author of
Let Darkness Come
“I was moved and challenged by Leah’s honest questioning, her difficult choices, and most of all by the strength of her love and faith.Leah’s Choice
is a lovely book. Simply lovely.”
—Linda Goodnight, author of
The Wedding Garden
“Marta Perry [has] done an exceptional job describing the tradition of the Amish community. Her writing enables the reader to gain a visual of each scene as it occurs.Leah’s Choice
is a wonderful start to what is sure to be a very memorable series. I look forward to continuing the journey on future books to come.”
takes us into the heart of Amish country and the Pennsylvania Dutch, and shows us the struggles of the Amish community as the outside world continues to clash with the Plain ways. This is a story of grace and servitude as well as a story of difficult choices and heartbreaking realities. It touched my heart. I think the world of Amish fiction has found a new champion.”
—Lenora Worth, author of
“I lovedLeah’s Choice
by Marta Perry! More than just a sweet Amish love story, it is a complex mix of volatile relationships and hard choices. I couldn’t put it down. I highly recommend it!”
—Colleen Coble, author of
is a wonderful, fresh addition to the growing collection of novels about the Amish life. Marta Perry has created characters that I came to care for deeply and a plot that kept me guessing at every turn.”
—Deborah Raney, author of
Above All Things
and the Hanover Falls novels
captured me on the first page—complex characters, unexpected conflicts, and deep emotion. Make the right choice. Savor this special book.”
—Lyn Cote, author of the Texas: Star of Destiny series
Other Pleasant Valley novels by Marta Perry
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This is an original publication of The Berkley Publishing Group.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.
Copyright © 2010 by Martha Johnson.
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Berkley trade paperback edition / June 2010
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Anna’s return / Marta Perry.
p. cm.—(Pleasant Valley ; bk. 3)
eISBN : 978-1-101-18804-0
1. Amish—Fiction. 2. Lancaster County (Pa.)—Fiction. I. Title.
This story is dedicated to the treasured friends
whose unfailing encouragement and support helped to
make it possible—you know who you are!
And, as always, to my husband, Brian,
who always believes in me.
I’d like to express my gratitude to those whose expertise, patience, and generosity helped me in the writing of this book: to Erik Wesner, whose
newsletters are enormously helpful in visualizing aspects of daily life; to Donald Kraybill and John Hostetler, whose books are the definitive works on Amish life; to Louise Stoltzfus, Lovina Eicher, and numerous others who’ve shared what it means to be Amish; to the unnamed Plain People whose insights have enriched my life; and most of all to my family, for giving me a rich heritage upon which to draw.
was beginning to fear that the prodigal daughter wouldn’t make it home after all. Anna Beiler pressed on the gas pedal. “Come on, you can do it.” The old car responded with nothing more than a shudder.
Daad would probably say that this was what she got for depending on something so English as a car to get her home, and maybe he’d be right. Just the thought of seeing her father made her stomach queasy. How would he, how would any of the family, react to Anna’s turning up at her Amish home three years after she’d given up all they believed in to disappear into the English world?
The car gave an ominous sputter. It might be her prized possession, but she didn’t know much about its inner workings. Still, that noise and the shaking couldn’t be good signs.
She gripped the steering wheel tighter, biting her lip, and faced the truth. She wasn’t going to make it to the Beiler farm, the place where she’d been born, the place she’d left in rebellion and disgrace. She’d been almost nineteen then, sure she knew all about the world. Now, at twenty-two, she felt a decade older than the girl she’d been.
But there, just ahead, she spotted the turnoff to Mill Race Road. Two miles down Mill Race was the home of her brother and sister-in-law. Joseph and Myra would welcome her, wouldn’t they?
Forced into a decision, she’d have to take that chance. She turned onto the narrow road, earning another protesting groan from the car. Her fingers tensed so much that she’d have to peel them from the steering wheel. Worse, now that she was so close, all the arguments for and against coming here pummeled her mind.
Was this the right choice? Her stomach clenched again. She didn’t know. She just knew returning was her only option.
It was strange that things looked the same after three years. Pleasant Valley, Pennsylvania, didn’t change, or at least not quickly. Maybe there’d been a little more traffic on the main road, but now that she was off that, not a car was in sight.
The fields on either side of the road overflowed with pumpkins, cabbage, and field corn that had yet to be cut. Neat barns and silos, farmhouse gardens filled with chrysanthemums, sumac topped with the dark red plumes that made them look like flaming torches—this was September in Pennsylvania Dutch country, and she was coming home.
Maybe she should have written, but when had there been time? There’d been no time for anything but to get out of Chicago as quickly as possible. And there was no way she could explain the unexplainable.
She glanced into the backseat, and her heart expanded with love. Gracie slept in her car seat, good as gold, just as she’d been throughout the long trip. At not quite a year old, she could hardly have understood her mother’s fear, but she’d cooperated.
The neat white sign for Joseph’s machine shop stood where it always had. Anna turned into the narrow gravel lane, determination settling over her. It was far too late to worry if her decision would work. She had to make it work, for Gracie’s sake.
Joseph and Myra’s place was a hundred-year-old white frame farmhouse, identifiable as Amish only by the fact that no electric lines ran to the house. They owned only a few acres, not enough to farm but plenty for the machine shop that her mechanically minded brother ran.
In the pasture to the right of the lane a bay horse lifted his head, eyeing her curiously, probably wondering what a car was doing here. Tossing his mane, he trotted a few feet beside her along the fence.
If Gracie were awake, she would point out the horsey, something that up until now Gracie had seen only in her picture books. Everything about this place would be strange and new to her.
Not to Anna. For her, it all had an almost heartless familiarity. The very sameness made it seem to her that Pleasant Valley had gotten along quite nicely without her, thank you very much, and could continue to do so.
Joseph’s shop was in the large outbuilding at the end of the lane, while off to the left beyond it stood the horse barn. Surely there’d be room in one of them to store the car.
Get it out of sight—that was all she could think. Get the car out of sight, and then they’d be safe.
Maybe she ought to drive straight to the shop. She could park behind it, if nothing else. As if it had read her mind, the car gave one last sputter, a cough, and died, just short of the house.
“No, don’t do this,” she muttered. She switched the key off and then turned it on again, touching the gas pedal gently.
Nothing. The car seemed to sink down on its wheels, like a horse sagging into clean straw after a hard day’s work.