I have read “Jacob’s Choice, Return to Northkill, Book I,” by Ervin Stutzman. He dedicated it to Rachel Weaver Kreider, 104 year old resident of Greencroft. He described her as “the centenarian whose unflagging energy, irenic spirit, scrupulous Amish genealogical scholarship, and interest in the Jacob Hochstetler family story inspire me to follow in her footsteps, although I hardly dare hope to live as long as she has.”
The book is published in three formats: paperback, hardback, and an expanded version that reports the research that went into its writing. I have the paperback format. I hope to someday have access to the research in the expanded version. My Joy and I joined the people that crowded the room set aside in the Greencroft community center for the signing.
Stutzman attached Matthew 5:44 to his signature which reads: “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.” This teaching of Jesus was at the heart of Jacob’s faith.
Stutzman’s novel is full of forests, hills and streams. The streams reminded me of the Conococheague Creek that flows southward about a half mile East of my childhood home. Factories and towns polluted the creek, but then it was decided to clean the creek so that when I last visited it with Rachel and family the water was clear.
The Conococheague Creek is a tributary of the Potomac River. The creeks in Jacob’s Choice were tributaries of the Susquehanna River.
The story is not new, but the style with which it is told is novel. There is romance, intrigue and spiritual struggles. With his training in rhetoric and appreciation for Amish faith, Stutzman is well equipped to write this book. Authentic historicity sets the book apart from popular Amish romance novels.