Title: The Poverty Gate
Author: Mrs. Cleon Martin (also known as Rebecca Martin)
Major Themes: Amish, France, Napoleonic Wars, Rebecca Martin, Mrs. Cleon Martin
Synopsis: As Napoleon tries to conquer all of Europe, the Amish try to maintain their peaceful way of life, and the Yoder family helps their neighbors settle back into life in the family castle.
Once a year, we get a catalog in the mail from the publishing company from whom we buy most of our school books. This company also sells a lot of storybooks, so my children love to read the catalog. One of my sons went through and marked all the books he wanted me to get, so I added several of them to the next order. One of those books was The Poverty Gate. I had no idea, when I bought it, what the story was about, but it turned out to be almost a sequel to The Shepherd of Salm, which we read a year ago. It isn’t really a sequel, because it is by a different author and about different people, but it is set in the same area, among the same people, and is about 15 years later.
France, in 1804. The Reign of Terror had come to an end, the French Revolution was over, and now Napoleon was leading the country. The Amish in Alsace were still trying to live their lives in peace, and now the son of Count Clermont had come back, with his mother and sister. The Yoder family was quite excited about this, and did all they could to help the little family establish themselves in their castle again. They hoped for peace, but soon events beyond their control swept the entire community into turmoil again.
Napoleon crowned himself emperor, and began his campaign of taking over Europe. To accomplish this goal, he needed manpower. The young men of France were excited about making their country great, and even the young Amish men wanted to join the army. They took noncombatant positions, but their parents were unhappy even with that. How would this tension be resolved? And what about the Amish girls who had been put in the convent—could they hide well enough in the castle?
A castle, secret chambers, danger and a power-mad emperor . . . the Yoder family had a lot to think about and talk through. Father did his best to teach his family the Bible way of living. Would his sons heed his words and follow his example—or would they be caught up in Napoleon’s campaigns and be lost to the Lord’s work? Read The Poverty Gate for a very different perspective on the period of history immediately after the French Revolution.
Read Aloud—Ages 5 – 8, 8 – 12, Family Read Alouds
Reading Independently—Ages 8 – 12