Because of its title, many readers may expect ‘A Plain & Fancy Christmas’ to be just another warm and fuzzy Amish Christmas story. In actuality, Christmas plays only a very small role in this tale based on a highly unusual and unlikely “what if” scenario. What if two girl babies named Rachel were born about the same time in the same hospital and were accidentally switched at birth? What if one of them was an Amish baby and the other Englisch? And how would they feel if the only person who knew what happened had a touch of conscience some thirty years later and decided to let them know the truth?

So that is the basic premise behind the story related in ‘A Plain & Fancy Christmas’ which features Rachel Yoder, a young Amish widow with one daughter and Ellie Lawrence, a successful business woman in New York City. As the story progresses, each of the young women and their families experience a wide range of emotions and undergo monumental changes in their lives. As can be expected in most Amish novels, everything works out well at the end and this particular novel culminates happily at Christmas.

‘A Plain & Fancy Christmas’ is skillfully written with an imaginative plot and well-defined characters. Its emphasis is on relationships and the importance of being yourself. Although the events in the book are not likely to ever happen, it still makes for interesting reading. And that is what fiction is all about after all.

For those who enjoy Amish fiction, ‘A Plain & Fancy Christmas’ is a novel to add to your collection. And you don’t have to wait until Christmas to read it. This story would be enjoyable year round.

This book was provided for review by the Amazon Vine™ Program.


Raised in a Pennsylvania Amish community, young mother Rachel Yoder has led a simple life within her close-knit family. Widowed three years ago, she has moved back in with her parents, attempting to raise her daughter, Katie, without further emotional upheaval. Meanwhile, four hours and a whole world away in New York City, Ellie Lawrence is laser-focused on a high-powered public relations career, with too little time for her family, her friends, or even her boyfriend.

Then one fateful day, these two very different women receive shocking news of a mistake made three decades earlier and long kept hidden: Shortly after their births, the two were accidentally switched in the hospital. Shaken to the core by this momentous news, Rachel and Ellie are plunged into an exploration of who they are and where they really belong. While Ellie is eager to learn more about her Amish family and their life in the countryside, Rachel cannot help but feel jealous as she watches the only mother she has ever known bonding so easily with her natural daughter. But Rachel also knows that her own biological family is out there, and with Katie at her side she heads for Manhattan, where she establishes a connection with the raucous, spirited Lawrences.

As Ellie and Rachel make their way through unfamiliar landscapes, they face life-altering challenges and grapple with a crucial question: Will their old conventions and desires give way to new customs and yearnings? With the Christmas holidays fast approaching, it takes the love of two families for Rachel and Ellie to discover their own paths to fulfillment and happiness.


Cynthia Keller’s books speak to our conception of the American dream in more ways than one. Keller says, “My own concern about the environment made the Amish mode of living seem especially important to understand. Global warming, slow living—all the buzz words of today are addressed in Amish life. While I was writing AN AMISH CHRISTMAS, I started hanging my laundry out to dry instead of using the dryer. It got me thinking about food sources, cooking from scratch (I tested Amish recipes on my children) and wanting to learn how to make my own preserves (I’m planning to do that this year). It also made me rethink a slew of related issues, like the ways in which families find satisfaction in their lives and the influence of community.” Richly evoking the tastes, textures and rhythms of a life few of us experience but many of us secretly long for—elements of which we may be able to recreate at home—Cynthia Keller’s A PLAIN AND FANCY CHRISTMAS makes a perfect read heading into the holidays.

Cynthia Keller lives in Connecticut with her husband and two children.