I read Treasuring Emma, by Kathleen Fuller, in a single day, almost in a single sitting. I love it when I get books I just cannot put down, and in not being able to put them down I finish them quickly. The problem with Treasuring Emma is that it wasn’t one of those books. I was able to read it in a few hours because it was mindless and overly plain in its quality of writing.
A quick plot summary: Emma, an Amish girl who, at 24, is considered to be an old maid because she is still single, must care for her mother, who is dying. Eventually her mother passes away and Emma is left to care for herself. Her mother and grandmother managed to keep the family running after the death of Emma’s father by doing work of their own, and now it’s Emma time to confront her life and figure out how to survived on nothing. Things are complicated when Emma’s childhood beau, Adam, returns, after leaving town years ago to live among the English. But that’s not all – Emma’s sister Clara is having financial issues of her own after her husband Peter loses his job.
There were a few things I liked about this novel. One, it had some Amish people in it. That sounds like I’m joking, but I really do love novels about Amish people. And there are certain parts of Emma’s characterization that endeared her to me – the fact that she is both single and slightly… rotund. I’m in the same place in my life, and while it’s hard sometimes to deal with my singleness, it is what it is and it’s nice to read about characters who remind me of myself.
That said, I pretty much disliked the rest of this book. For starters, it was way, way too much like an Amish soap opera. Tragic deaths and lost loves aside, I got super annoyed when Peter’s friend Mark came back to town and started scheming to take advantage of Emma in her needy situation. I also was expecting an entirely different book based on the back cover, which mentions Emma’s desire to open a shelter for stray animals. In a lot of ways, this book had nothing to do with Emma’s dreams and everything to do with Clara’s, and as such is really titled incorrectly.
Another thing that left me scratching my head is the history between the sisters. There is just so much backstory we need to know, and are either given the backstory in tiny pieces that aren’t helpful at random times throughout the novel, or we’re never given them at all. There were countless times where I’d read something and flip back a few pages trying to figure out what just happened, when it was Fuller who just dropped the ball entirely.
While I do love a good Amish novel, this is one I can’t endorse. There are too many problems, both big and small, to make it a good read.
Overall rating: 3/10
I received this book for free from Book Sneeze in exchange for a review. I was not asked to provide a positive review, just an honest one.)