Sunday, August 26, 2018

My Amish "KICK" - What is it about this genre of Amish Christian Fiction?

It's no secret that I'm fascinated with the simple life of the Amish, I think it's a fascination of anyone that knows of this religion/sect/cult, especially if you're enchanted with living 200 years in the past and love history and Colonial Williamsburg, Sturbridge Village, and other such historical places.  Being a raised-in-the-church Protestant, past Sunday School superintendent, and now-Atheist, I am also fascinated with the religious beliefs of the Amish people.

(Note:  for Amish NON-Christian mysteries, etc., see the bottom of the page.)

I've decided to read some of the different authors and check out different aspects of the novels.
My criteria:

Patriarchal/Male dominated beliefs:
God and the Bible:
Relationship with the English:
Modern conveniences:
Why readers might enjoy this genre (Amish Christian romance):
My rating:
In general:

Cameron - A Road Unknown, 2014 (3.5)
.......................Her Restless Heart, 2012 (3)
Davids, Patricia - The Wish, 2019 (4)
Doss, Rose - Amish Renegade, 2018 (3)
Lewis, Beverly - The Secret, 2009 (2.5)
..........................The Shunning, 1997 (1)
Newport, Olivia - Accidentally Amish, 2012 (3)
Price - Fields of Corn, 2010 (2)

Movies (all described below):
Saving Sarah Cain, 2007

1.  Fields of Corn by Sarah Price, 2010 (read July, 2018)
Setting: Leola, PA
Protagonist/s: Shana Slater, Englisher turned Amish
Patriarchal/Male dominated beliefs: VERY MUCH SO
The BISHOP: Not offensive that I can recall
God and the Bible:  Lots, the idea that everything is "God's will" is stated over and over
Relationship with the English: some trepidation
Modern conveniences: The Amish family rented out a small guest house to an Englisher, with electricity (which seems a little improbable to me...)
Why readers might enjoy this genre (Amish Christian romance): Romance, non-Amish girl falls in love with Amish boy and changes everything in her life for him.  First 3/4 of the book is okay, but the last quarter...
Questions? The young man in this story at first made concessions to Shana, but rapidly pushed her to his whim, and then became almost like a different person when he dug his heels in as the patriarchal head.  It didn't fit with the person that began the book.
My rating: 2
In general:  The last quarter of the book really set my feminist teeth grinding....yuck!

2.  A Road Unknown by Barbara Cameron, 2014 (read August, 2018)
Setting: Paradise, PA (and Goshen, Indiana)
Protagonist/s:  Elizabeth B
Patriarchal/Male dominated beliefs: not particularly
The BISHOP:  Not a nice guy
God and the Bible: not a big part of the book
Relationship with the English: positive, they run a touristy gift shop in Lancaster County
Modern conveniences:  cell phones, hire drivers to get around even locally much of the time
Information that teaches of Amish ways?  Yes...
Why readers might enjoy this genre (Amish Christian romance): a super clean romance without a whole lot of religion shoved down your throat....
Questions?  The Amish celebrate Thanksgiving?
My rating:  3.5
In general:  Didn't make the hairs on the back of my neck stick up!

MOVIE:  Saving Sarah Cain 
2007, PG (1:43) directed by Michael Landon, Jr. RT Audience:  73% Borrowed from Bosler Library
RT Summary:  A well-meaning but self-centered newspaper columnist learns the importance of placing career before family when her sister dies and she brings her late sibling's five Amish-raised children to live with her in the big city. There was a time when Sarah Cain was one of the city's best-known writers, but these days she seems to have lost her touch. When Sarah's sister Ivy dies and the writer is suddenly saddled with five children who aren't accustomed to city life, her editor urges her to document the unique experience in her column. As a result, Sarah once again finds the success that has eluded her for so long - but her time in the spotlight yields some unexpected consequences. When the children find out that Sarah has exploiting the situation to bolster her readership, they feel so devastated and betrayed that they demand to be placed with a new foster family.
Setting:  Lancaster County, PA (and Portland, Oregon)
Protagonist/s: Sarah Cain, an Englisher, and her five orphaned Amish nieces and nephews
Patriarchal/Male dominated beliefs: No
The BISHOP: Unimportant
God and the Bible: Hardly any
Relationship with the English: Weird...they let those kids be taken off by this unknown aunt without any fight at all....this doesn't fit with any of the information I have, to date, about what would really happen...
Modern conveniences: No, but the homes are really big and spacious and well-lit, which isn't how I picture Amish homes.
Why readers might enjoy this genre (Amish Christian romance):  It's a fun story.
Questions? Lots.  This is definitely a movie made for the general population...sad but light, with beautiful people
My rating: 3
In general: Entertaining, like a Hallmark movie that didn't actually turn my stomach.

3.  Accidentally Amish by Olivia Newport, 2012 (read August 2018)
Unfortunately, I'm entering this quite awhile after reading it, so the nitty gritties are forgotten...I rated it a 3.
My review/comments:  The first in a series of three that follow Analise/Annie into the Amish life.  The reality is that she fell for an Amish guy and because of her high-powered , crazy life she is ready for some simplicity.  Only a little is mentioned about faith and God, so I can totally believe that she thinks she might be able to deal with/handle this incredible life change because she's in love.  So, thus far, it's been fairly believable.  However, for her to ever follow this lifestyle for the rest of her life, she's going to have to become like a "born-again" and I think that would drive me -- and her -- absolutely nuts AND be hard to believe.  Yes, all that sort of think is nonsense to me....
     So will I read on?  Doubt it greatly.

4.  The Secret - Beverly Lewis - 2009 (read August, 2018) rated 2.5
This is one heck of a long, drawn out story, so long and drawn out that it became quite boring.  It's the first of the series and leaves you pretty much hanging at the end.  I think the series is three books - books which could have been made into just one of the same length.  It sure needed chopping!  And for being such a close knit clan/community, no one ever - EVER - really talks to each other or shares anything of any kind of importance.  Crazy.  They sure know how to gossip, though.  Is this what the Amish community is really like?  I'd love to find out what will happen to the three major protagonists but I refuse to spend the time....

5.  Amish Renegade  - Rose Doss 2018 rated 3
My comments: This latest Amish story seemed a little bit more real to me.  It spoke more of feelings vs. suppressing them.  I think the strongest realization that has come from reading these stories is that Amish suppress feelings, don't talk to each other about anything of importance - everything is "what you see is what you get" and led by God's will, which is pretty much interpreted by the men of the congregation,  This particular story included real human feelings which the two protagonists , because of their teachings and upbringing, didn't really know how to handle well.  There is so much repetition in these books that the real meat of the story could probably be told in one chapter, as a short story, but when I get around all of that this one has appealed to me more than the others.  It actually speaks about love for another human being, which I haven't seen or even felt much in previous books of this type.

5.  Her Restless Heart by Barbara Cameron
, 2012 (read January, 2021)
Setting: Paradise, PA 
Protagonist/s:  Mary Katherine
Patriarchal/Male dominated beliefs: somewhat....horrible, mean, gruff father
The BISHOP:  Not a nice guy, domineering
God and the Bible: not a big part of the book, though everything is God's will....
Relationship with the English: positive, they run a touristy quilt shop in Lancaster County
Modern conveniences:  cell phones, hire drivers to get around, she even dresses in jeans and has her hair down once in awhile, which seems very off to me
Information that teaches of Amish ways?  some...but there's a lot of freedom that I don't think is real
Why readers might enjoy this genre (Amish Christian romance): a super clean romance without a whole lot of religion shoved down your throat....
Questions?  The male was constantly buying gifts...birthday, flowers, etc.  Not sure how much this sort of thing happens
My rating:  3

Amish Mysteries written from the point-of-view of outside the Amish community:

Hopkins, Karen Ann
     Sheriff Serenity Adams, Blood Rock, Indiana
     #1:  Lamb to the Slaughter, 2014 (3)

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