Brightest and Best


Although there are certainly elements of romance within the pages of “Brightest and Best”, two of them in fact, the real story is about what happens within the Amish community during the early twentieth century when the state of Ohio attempts to “consolidate” the Amish children into the public school system.

Based loosely on true historical events, the author does a marvelous job of helping her readers understand a bit more about the Amish and why they believe as they do about the need to educate their children within their own community. She also illustrated how prejudice is not always fueled by race but by difference in religion or culture. Excellent character development and a plot laced with conflict, a bit of mystery, romance, and a touch of humor work together to make “Brightest and Best” a very enjoyable book. Even if neither romance turns out quite as expected, I believe that makes this story even more believable.

This book was provided for review by the Barbour Review Crew.


The collapse of a schoolhouse puts pressure on Amish families and their long-held educational values. Ella Hilty anticipates marrying Gideon Wittner and becoming a mother to his children. In a whirling clash of values, Ella seeks the solid ground that seems to have slipped away. Margaret Simpson, an English schoolteacher, wonders if she is losing her last chance at love. As the local authorities draw lines in the sand, Margaret puts romance at risk one final time. All eyes turn to Ella to make a sacrifice and accept a challenge that can bring unity to the Amish and understanding to the English.


Olivia NewportOlivia Newport is the author of The Pursuit of Lucy Banning and The Dilemma of Charlotte Farrow. Her husband and two twentysomething children provide welcome distraction from the people stomping through her head on their way into her books. She chases joy in stunning Colorado at the foot of the Rockies, where daylilies grow as tall as she is. Find out more at

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