Book Preview: The Amish Widower by Virginia Smith

In this excerpt from The Amish Widower by Virginia Smith, widower Seth Hostetler tries his hand at carving his newly formed clay canister. But his teacher and the Englisch woman who helps run the shop have very different thoughts on the final product…

Enjoy the preview!


Something about this canister seemed wrong. I sat back, fingering my beard, and tried to pinpoint the cause. Not wrong, exactly. Unfinished? Yes, that was it. Somehow the perfect symmetry and precision of the shape did not fit this canister. It was too…well, too plain.

Though Elias nearly always added a simple carving to decorate his pieces, I had not yet attempted the technique. I opened my mouth to ask for advice, but my teacher had slipped out of the room while I worked. I heard his low voice, muffled through the curtain, and Leah’s quiet response.

I took up Elias’s carving tool and tested the sharp end with my thumb, all the while studying the smooth surface of my canister. Though I’d watched him many times, I’d never handled the knifelike tool myself. With my breath caught in my chest, I lowered the metal edge until it barely rested against the clay. What design to carve?

A pattern appeared in my mind, and with it pain stabbed at my heart as though I’d turned the tool on myself. The pattern was from the quilt my Hannah had made for our marriage bed.

I closed my eyes and let pain wash over me while the design burned the insides of my eyelids. When I could see nothing else, I opened my eyes and pressed the sharp tool into the clay.

Time slipped by unnoticed. The canister became my focus, duplicating Hannah’s pattern in every detail. Finally, I carved the last piece of clay away, smoothed the final rough edge, and set down the tool. I straightened, pressing a fist against an ache in the small of my back. My vision, focused so long on the close work in front of me, blurred when I lifted my head and glanced around the workshop. What was the time?

I called toward the curtain. “Elias?”

He and Leah appeared.

“You’re finished, ya?” The old man’s smile melted from his face when his gaze lowered to my work. “Seth, what have you done to the canister?”

I looked at the piece on my wheel. The pattern was precisely what I’d hoped to achieve. If this piece were placed beside Hannah’s quilt, no one could doubt that the designs were identical. But instead of etching the decoration on the outside of the clay, I had cut all the way through. Ornamental, perfectly shaped holes covered all sides of the piece that could no longer be called a canister.

“I—” Words deserted me. The piece looked exactly like I wanted, but it was useless.

My perfect canister, ruined.

“Nothing can be stored in that.” Elias waggled his fingers in the pot’s direction. “It will pour out the sides.”

A knot formed deep in my throat, threatening to block the breath from my lungs. Why had I spoiled my work? My palms itched to snatch it up and dash it to the floor, the urge strong to see it lying in broken shards at my feet.

Leah stepped away from Elias, her gaze fixed on my pot. “Maybe that’s the point.”

“What do you mean?” Elias asked. “What point?”

She reached out, her hands halting inches from the piece while she turned an unspoken request for permission my way. When I nodded, she picked up the ruined canister and turned it slowly around, examining it from all angles.

“The design is beautiful. So intricate and delicate.”

Just like the quilt that had covered my wife and me as we learned to love one another. The lump in my throat expanded, and I struggled to breathe past it.

“If you put a candle inside, light would spill out all around.” Leah turned sparkling blue eyes to me. “Imagine how beautiful that would look in a dark room.”

Whether because of her enthusiasm or the reverent hush in her tone, my breath eased. The image she described showed clearly in my mind’s eye. My Hannah’s pattern, projected all around a room, casting a beautiful light to illuminate the darkness.

Elias cocked his head and studied the piece critically. “Who would want to buy such a thing?”

“I would.” Leah pulled the canister to her chest, though gently. “In fact, I will.” Her gaze slid to me. “If you will allow me to?”


Excerpted from The Amish Widower by Virginia Smith

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2 Responses to “Book Preview: The Amish Widower by Virginia Smith”

  1. I can’t wait to read this book! My library is going to purchase it.


    Amber | Reply:

    That’s awesome, Beverly! Happy reading!


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