Julia Lapp has planned on marrying Paul Fisher since she was a girl. Now twenty-one, she looks forward to their wedding with giddy anticipation. When Paul tells her he wants to postpone the wedding--again--she knows who is to blame. Perpetual bachelor and spreader of cold feet, Roman Troyer, the Bee Man.
Roamin' Roman travels through the Amish communities of Ohio and Pennsylvania with his hives full of bees, renting them out to farmers in need of pollinators. He relishes his nomadic life, which keeps him from thinking about all he has lost. He especially enjoys bringing his bees to Stoney Ridge each year. But with Julia on a mission to punish him for inspiring Paul's cold feet, the Lapp farm is looking decidedly less pleasant.
Can Julia secure the future she's always dreamed of? Or does God have something else in mind?
Good book about a season of changes for the inhabitants of Windmill Farm. The main focus of the story is Julia Lapp. She is twenty-one years old and engaged to marry Paul Fisher. She is the oldest of the four Lapp children - herself, Sadie, Menno and Mary Kate (MK). Their mother died years ago and Julia has been in charge of raising her siblings. It was going pretty well until a few months ago when their father, Amos, started having heart problems. Now Julia also has to worry about keeping the farm going.
Last year Paul had asked Julia to postpone their wedding, saying he wasn't quite ready. She has been looking forward to their November wedding this year, having been dreaming of marrying Paul for years. When he comes to her and asks her to postpone again, she is hurt and furious, especially when she hears he had just been talking to Roman Troyer, the Bee Man. She blames Roman and his footloose lifestyle for Paul's defection. She decides that Roman has done it deliberately because he is sweet on her himself, and tells him that it won't work.
Roman has been taking his bees around Amish communities for several years. Traveling enables him to avoid thinking about his past and all he has lost. He's always enjoyed his stay on the Lapp farm, but things are very different this year. He can't believe the changes in Amos, and the effects it has had on the farm. And Julia is no longer the quiet girl in the background, running the house. Suddenly she's become something of a spitfire, with strong opinions about his actions and motivations. Unlike most other girls, who spend a lot of time pursuing him, she makes her disinterest known, which in turn makes her more intriguing to him. Because he does feel bad about the wedding, he decides to stick around Windmill Farm and try to help out. His past is also catching up with him, and he has some important decisions to make.
Throughout the story we get to know each of the characters in the book, though most of the time is spent of Julia and Roman.
Julia is the oldest, in charge of everything while their father is ill. She frequently feels overwhelmed. She is also very conscious of appearances, and tends to allow others' opinions to dictate her actions. She begins to gain more confidence in herself as the summer progresses, and is able to rely on her own judgment.
Sadie is the second oldest. She is quiet and rather shy, but enjoys looking out for her family. She is a bit on the plump side and finds comfort in food. She is very sensitive to people's pain and finds happiness in making them feel better.
Menno is the only boy. He is a little slow, but very sweet. Everyone likes him. He also has a special touch with animals.
MK is the youngest. She is headstrong, has a vivid imagination, and is constantly getting in trouble. She is in a perpetual feud with a neighbor boy of the same age. She tends to not think things through before she says or does something, and it usually turns out badly for her.
Amos is the father. He is suffering from heart failure and has been getting steadily worse. He has pretty much given up on the idea that he will get better, even though he's been told that a heart transplant would help him. He doesn't like the idea that someone else would have to die in order for him to live.
Roman is the Bee Man. His entire family was killed in an accident several years earlier and he travels to avoid the pain. Windmill Farm and its people find a way past the walls he has built around his heart. He makes it his mission to help around the farm, easing their burdens. He is also determined to make Amos see that having the transplant is a good thing.
Fern is the housekeeper who comes from Ohio to help the Lapp family. MK calls her Stern Fern because she has her rules and opinions and keeps the Lapp family in line. She takes it as a challenge to improve the health of both Sadie and Amos. There is also a connection between her and Roman that does not come out until near the end, but that she has no trouble using to encourage him to face his past.
As the summer progresses, Julia softens toward Roman, and begins to see that maybe things have worked out the way they are supposed to. She has a decision to make when Paul starts to make noises about changing his mind yet again. Roman's time on Windmill Farm has started easing some of his pain, and he's starting to consider some changes of his own. There is some mystery about his family's land back in Ohio that winds its way through the book and has a surprising impact on the story's end. The book ends with tragedy, hope and love, and the belief that things happen for a reason.