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Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite
Amish women are very modest in their attire. Dresses are usually a dull blue, green or grey. But red? Scarlet red at that. Crimson red. The color of sin. Or so Ruby believes as does her Amish community who have shunned her for becoming pregnant and not naming the father. But she can’t. She loves the father too much and realizes that naming him would only serve to hurt him. She couldn’t do that. Not to him. Not to anyone. That’s the way she is. Kind and considerate. And shunned. At least until she names the father.
It’s not just the color of the dress that sets Ruby apart from the others. Nor is it the isolated house in which she lives, far from the rest of her Amish community. It’s also her name. Ruby. “Even my name indicted me.” Lauren Madison’s short novel, The Crimson Dress, is told in first person narrative. Ruby is telling her story. Interspersed with dialogue and descriptive passages, the plot thickens as the mystery swirls around the unknown father. He comes to her, relieving her by confessing his love for her. But he still won’t stand up in front of the community and claim the child as his. The tension builds as Ruby’s strong character maintains her commitment to protecting the father, but, more important, protecting her unborn baby.
A powerful tale that leads the reader to an unexpected conclusion. The revelation at the end is deeper and more profound than one would expect. For it’s not the color of crimson or red or scarlet that dictates the sin of the person who wears it. Rather, it’s what is found deeper within that defines the person. It can be “the color of love.” For Ruby, it becomes more, much more. For Ruby, it’s “the color of freedom as well.” After all, what’s in a color? What matters is what's in a person!