Author Leslie Gould realized in the sixth grade that she wanted to become a writer. However, she worked other jobs (a magazine editor, a museum curator, and a public relations specialist) and majoring in history and communications before starting her writing career. It took her ten years to get her first novel published. By this time, she had been married twenty years with four kids. She has written over twenty novels that are either contemporary fiction or Amish fiction; this includes the five books (the four “Women of Lancaster County” books and the “Cousins of the Dove” series) that she has co-authored with fellow author Mindy S. Clark.
She remembers how stories connect her with her family and friends; either her dad would read ” A Street of Flower Boxes” to her before bed, or how her mother would read “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” to her on family trips, or how they would play “Island of the Blue Dolphin” with family and friends. She also enjoyed Bible stories and tales of redemption and grace while at Sunday school. Her love of stories and writing started at this early time in her life.
“Amish Promises” is the first book in the “Neighbors of Lancaster” series. This is a series features blending of two (or more) cultures; Amish, Mennonite, and English can be found in at least one book. The series shows that even though people come from different religious backgrounds or beliefs, they can come together and still get along just fine. In this book, it is the Beck’s who are English and the Lehman’s are Amish. Joel Beck has just got back from Iraq, which makes his wife, Shani, happy. Now, they just want to move into their new home and have some peace in their lives. Joel needs time to heal, the quiet county of Lacaster seems like the perfect place. Things get off to a rocky start with their neighbors, the Lehman’s, when the Beck’s son injures one of their sons. Eve Lehman runs her brother’s household and takes care of his five kids ever since Tim’s wife died, he’s a stern man and rules his house with an iron fist. Even though he’s told her not to, she likes the new neighbor, Shani, and they develop a really good friendship that is based on family and faith. Eve meets a man named Charlie, who is a friend of Joel’s when he was in the army, who is different from all the other men she has ever met.
The book has 86 five star reviews on Amazon and 98 five star reviews on Goodreads. Fans of the book said that this was a great start to the series, they found the book to be unputdownable and something that kept them reading til the early morning hours. Fans liked that Eve and Charlie were easy to connect with, and found Tim to be a character who got more likable as the book went on, They also liked the way the kids were all able to get along with each other. Readers enjoyed this book so much that they wanted to read future installments in the series. Some really liked the idea that people of different religious beliefs can get along with not a lot of problems.
Some readers that did not like the book found it to be boring, and it felt almost like they were missing something, due to little background on some of the characters. Some of the events in the book seem to feature too much information and it takes away from the event. Some readers felt confused while reading the book due to the way that Gould changes perspective and they also did not like how slow it is. They thought that the readers will spend most of their time with unhappy people. Some found the dialogue to be weak and not very realistic. Some felt that they had to force themselves to keep reading and that a lot of background information was missing.
The second book in the “Neighbors of Lancaster” series, is called “Amish Sweethearts”. Two best friends, Zane Beck and his neighbor, Lila Lehman have been friends for a long time, but Zane has started to develop feelings of a different nature for her. Her dad, sees things differently and wants her to date an Amish man from an upstanding family man that he has set her up with. Zane does not like seeing them together and enlists in the army. The years go by, but the way the two feel about each other does not. Zane is sent to Afghanistan, making Zane have to kill people. He questions if he can do this and whether or not he can keep serving in the army. Lila prepares to marry someone else while he is away. It does not look like these two, two people who have deep feelings for one another will ever be together.
The book has 20 five star reviews on Amazon and 15 five star reviews on Goodreads. Fans of this book like the way it was written, how engaging it is, and how easy it is. Readers also liked that the book can be read like it is a stand alone novel and does not require readers to read the first book. Fans liked that the book did not contain too much religious stuff and was not too sappy in its romance. Readers love the way she has her characters feel real emotions, endearing the characters to the readers.
Readers did not like the way Zane and Lila are said to be attached to one another; the two do not spend that much time together, and the time they spend is strained, without much romantic interaction at all. It seems to be all very stated that they are into each other by their thoughts, but not in the way they act toward one another. Some readers thought that the book was simply a bunch of words on a page with nothing coming to life for them.
Her writing has won her some awards. She won the Christy Award for “The Amish Midwife”, Oregon Christian Writer’s Trailblazer Award, the Romantic Times Book Club Magaizine’s Reviewers’ Choice Award for Best Inspirational Novel (“Beyond the Blue”), and Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award (“The Amish Bride”).
Award winning author Leslie Gould lives in Portland, Oregon. She is a passionate author who has a family, a loving husband with whom she has four children. She has three siblings. She has worked at various places including Swedenburg House Museum in Oregon as a curator, she has worked at the Port of Portland as a communication specialist and to add a feather to her illustrious cap by worked in public relations at the Northwest Bridal Magazine. Apart from writing, she also has a hand in teaching. She teaches writing at the Warner Pacific College and she received an MFA from the Portland State University. In consistency with her writing skills, she has written several articles for various publications. She is a bestselling author and a Christy Award winning author having written 22 novels. Her hobbies are travelling, hiking and camping. She enjoys soccer and backpacking. Leslie Gould admits that she decided to get into writing out of desperation. This desperation was triggered by the fact that her husband of 20 years, Peter, was in Germany with the Army during Desert Storm, a military engagement, a potentially dangerous situation though he was working in the medical unit. She wanted to venture into fiction writing when she was in school but it was not until ten years later that she sold her first novel. She has said numerous times that her aim for writing is to make sure that God’s love, redemption and beauty is reflected. Her writing is motivated by her love for God, family and friends. And she hopes that her novels have the same effect on her readers.
Award winning author
Her first novel is titled Garden of Dreams and this paved the way for following 22 novels which she has written. Her dedication to writing has not gone unnoticed. She has won multiple awards including the Romantic Book Club Magazine’s Reviewers choice Award, the Christy Award, Inspirational Reader’s Choice Awards and the Oregon Christian Writer’s Award. These awards were won in 2006, 2012 and 2013 respectively. The books that won her awards include the Amish Midwife, Beyond the Blue and the Amish Bride. Some of the influences that she had before she embarked on writing were religious stories.
Garden of Dreams
Her first book Garden of Dreams published in 2003. The book is 322 pages and published by Waterbrook Press. It is a story of friendship in times of tragedy. The two main characters in the book are Jill and Caye. Jill is diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, a disease that has put her father, aunt and grandfather down. Caye helps out her friend with work and her children as the weight of the terminal illness wears her down. Other characters in the book include members of Jill’s home fellowship who do their part by praying for her and her Mother Marion who is holding a secret about Jill’s family. There is also Joya who is the leader of the home fellowship believers. The book has been described as emotionally gripping. The book has been set in Oregon. It is a novel which shows how even the best of friendships can be really tested. It is a revelation of faith and love in times of uncertainty.
When she began writing her first novel, her husband had returned from Vietnam having adopted their youngest daughter, working part time for the magazine. She had such a passion that she would write during soccer practice for her kids while watching them play and she would do so when she had taken her children for medical checkups. She was fitting in as much time as she could between writing for the magazine to doing her own novel.
Beyond the Blue
Beyond the Blue is another of Leslie Gould’s gems. The fictive novel that has been set in 1975. It goes by the tagline, Two Worlds, Two Women, One Love.’ The plot involves two women, an American called Genevieve and a Vietnamese, Lan. Their stories are intertwined, in that, they both suffer losses of family, Genevieve loses her mother in a plane crash and Lan is kicked out of her family home by her brother. Their lives of womanhood take different directions as Lan growing up in the aftermath of post-war Vietnam wishes to have a better life with her children and Genevieve wants to adopt a child from Vietnam because of infertility. Their paths converge eventually. The book is about loss, hard choices and transformation caused by God’s love. The book has 368 compelling pages and it is available in English. True to Leslie Gould, she lets the theme of God unbounding love express itself in the book. The book’s setting is in Vietnam and USA. The story predominantly revolves around the two women, Lan and Genevieve.
Leslie Gould books
Some of Leslie Gould’s works include novels such as Minding Molly, Adoring Annie, My Brother’s Crown, Second Chances, in God’s Hands and The Scrap. In her books she has the Amish series of books such as The Amish Promises, The Amish Midwife, The Amish Nanny, The Amish Seamstress and the Amish Sweethearts.
Inspiration for writing
The idea of writing about friendship between women stemmed from two incidences in her life, the death of her maternal aunt from breast cancer and after this, her best friend Libby got brain complications a few years later. She was inspired to write about friendships about women with the themes of faith and healing her plots.
None of Leslie Gould’s book has been made into a popular film. Though her books, Courting Cate, Becoming Bea, The Amish Sweethearts have an audio version. She is working on a novel about international adoption, a theme that brings itself out in the book Beyond the Blue. The book about her theme will have different characters but the setting will be the same. The adoption of her daughter will be fictionalized.
The bottomline is that Leslie Gould wants to write good fiction that glorifies God even for those with very little faith. Her ambition is to for her readers to see the need for God while still having struggles with their human nature.Book Series In Order » Authors » Leslie Gould