Monday, August 24, 2015

My Bookshelf: Brightest and Best by Olivia Newport

Ella squeezed her eyes shut, flushes and chills taking her by turn. Gotte’s wille. How could she know God’s will? Was it even possible?
        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 is the third book in Olivia Newport’s Amish Turns of Time series, but it is the first book by her I have ever read. Although this novel started out a little slow for me, it quickly picked up speed, immersing me in the struggle between obeying God and obeying a God-ordained government. I really fell in love with the story, and found myself fighting along with them against the rules that threatened their way of life. I loved the historical aspects of this book and how they really made it what it was, and the characters were all wonderful and easy to relate to. Ella is so selfless and completely and utterly in tune with God’s will, and I really looked up to her and her faith. Margaret, although from a different background so unlike Ella’s, reminded me of her in so many ways. She really did want what was best for the Amish children, and it was obvious with everything that she did.
        What should you do when you know God is calling you to raise your children one way, and the God-ordained government you live under says something different? How do you know what is right, and how far to push the boundaries? Will God make His will clear, and if so, will He make a way possible so you can follow it? Many Amish parents were faced with these questions throughout the whole of this book, and how they rallied and tried their hardest to do what was right, despite attacks coming from all sides, and the effect was inspiring. I cannot imagine what it must have been like for them, wanting to do what was right but unsure exactly what that was and feeling the pressure put on them by the government and the other families. Olivia really showed us how difficult it was for them, and I applaud her for weaving the story in such a way that it made you feel as if you were a part of the drama.
        As the story progressed, it really drew me in, and I found myself anxious to find out what would happen. I really did love the ending, although it didn’t turn out exactly the way I thought it would. However, it definitely did end well, and I found myself looking up to Margaret and Ella even more as I finished. They are both so strong and inspiring, and I really was blessed by that. All the characters, really, had at least one relatable thing about them, and I loved all of them for the way that they handled the situations they were presented with. With everything that filled the pages of this novel, it really did end up being one that I loved, and I will present it with four bookshelves out of five, and the only reason I do not give it all five was because of the fact that the beginning was a bit slow for me. All in all, Brightest and Best was a very enjoyable novel, I highly recommend it, and am looking forward to reading more by Olivia in the future.
        Happy reading!

You can purchase a copy of this novel here!

Linking up at Let it Shine.
Photo creds go to my awesome sister Allie. Check out her blog here!

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

All credit for the italicized synopsis goes to Olivia Newport and Shiloh Run Press.


  1. Great review, Mackenzie! Also, I nominated you for the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award. You can find more details here:


    1. Thank you! I will be sure to check it out!