My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Amish beauty Lyyndaya Kurtz is in love with Jude Whetstone, the blacksmith’s son. Trouble is, Jude has taken a shine to the new invention the flying machine. The year is 1917, the location the Lapp Colony of Paradise, Pennsylvania in Murray Pura’s The Wings of Morning. It is the first book in the “Snapshots In History” series which sets out to “…tell compelling romantic stories about faith-filled men and women caught up in the high drama of past historical events … the Civil War, Pearl Harbor, and the American Revolution” p. 301.
Jude’s flying skill soon comes to the attention of the air force brass who are recruiting pilots for the WWI air effort against Germany. The recruitment office rejects Jude’s appeal to remain at home on the basis of a religious exemption and round up a slew of enlistment-aged Paradise boys in an attempt to force him to change his mind. There is joy in Paradise when their youth return home. But Jude is not with them. Word is that they were released because Jude couldn’t stand to be away from flying and willingly joined the air force.
As the story unfolds, we experience the war with Jude. Meanwhile, Lyyndaya lives through their separation, made more bitter by the colony’s ban on him. Will they ever be reunited?
The characters are well drawn, especially the green-eyed tom-boyish Lyyndaya. I appreciated the sympathetic portrayal of some of the colony’s leaders (especially Bishop Zook), which I found a departure from other Amish fiction I’ve read where leaders are often shown as authoritarian and unfeeling. This Amish book differs as well in the way it depicts their beliefs as faith-nourishing (vs. merely a legalistic form). It also grapples at length with their pacifistic stance.
Pura has a broad understanding of history and the detail with which he pictures things like the kinds of planes flown during WWI gave me confidence in his portrayal of other historical aspects of the story with which I am unfamiliar (like whether or not Amish people actually entered military service during times of war).
Pura addresses themes of pacificism, laying down one’s life for one’s friends (sacrifice), and what things besides military involvement could constitute service to one’s country and community. Of course this is also a tale of romantic love.
This lively and interesting story (the first I’ve read by this prolific writer) whets my appetite for more books by Canadian author Murray Pura. I’ve put his series “The Danforths of Lancashire” (Ashton Park and Beneath the Dover Sky) on my ‘want-to-read’ list.
The Wings of Morning is part of my own fiction collection.