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Mar 4 2013

Bonnet Fiction

by Amanda L

A Cousin's PrayerI recently mentioned to a coworker that I was going to write a post about Amish fiction. His response to me, “Oh, you mean bonnet fiction?” I have to confess I have never heard of the term but in doing some research, this term has been used in the publishing industry since  2009. Bonnet fiction is primarily fiction books written with Amish characters and typically have a romantic theme. Through Amish fiction, the authors give the readers a feel of what it’s like to live the Amish life along with the technological differences associated with that lifestyle.

The author who is most often thought of when you mention Amish fiction is Beverly Lewis. Most of her stories take place in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Two of her books have been made into television movies.  The Postcard is one of the older titles that we have in our collection. Rachel Yoder, a recent widower, meets Philip Bradley, a journalist from New York. They set out on a journey after finding a postcard.

Another author who writes Amish fiction is Wanda Brunstetter. She has written quite a few Amish books. A Cousin’s Prayer tells the story of Katie Miller who loses her boyfriend in a car accident. She becomes depressed and meets Freeman Bontrager who wants to be near Katie. He falls for her and wants to make her gain his trust and finally his love.

Beth Wiseman is another author who has written a lot of Amish books. In Plain Promise, Sadie, an Amish widow, works at her family’s store selling goods to tourists. She decides that she needs more income and decides to rent out her cottage. Kade, a single father, decides to rent the cottage to get out of the hustle and bustle of his world. Through the cold winter, Kade and Sadie begin a friendship which concerns the rest of the Amish community.

There is even a local author who writes Amish fiction. His name is Dale Cramer and his stories reflect his family’s history. His grandfather was Amish and lived in Ohio but, because of the enforced school rules, decided to move to Mexico to be able to have their own schools. Levi’s Will is one of the stories that tells the story. Mr. Cramer researched this story and community and at the end of his stories lists his sources for the reader to learn more about this interesting community.

Amish fiction is hot and there are a variety of authors who are trying their hands at this genre. To find some more authors, try searching the catalog under the subject heading Amish fiction. There you will find a variety of authors including Barbara Cameron, Kathryn Cushman and Leslie Gould.

Finally, do you want to learn more about the old order Anabaptist that include the Amish? On the Background to Heaven: Old Order Hutterites, Mennonites, Amish and Brethern takes each group and explains their origins and beliefs.  It helped me understand that many of the things described in the Amish fiction are in fact what the Amish community experience in their daily lives.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Veronica W March 4, 2013 at 12:57 PM

I am very fond of Amish fiction and I also love romance, western and action fiction. You can imagine how excited I am when I can combine any of these. I saw the movie Witness, with Harrison Ford and Kelly McGillis, more times than I care to admit. I finally decided to buy it. Then there is the wonderful book/movie The Outsider, written by Penelope Williamson. Both have conflicted Amish heroines.

Lesley March 5, 2013 at 7:55 PM

What do actual Amish people think about these books? The Amish romance genre makes me a little uncomfortable. These are people who’ve chosen to live apart from modern society, only to find there’s a whole bunch of modern society fantasizing about their intimate lives.

Amanda L March 6, 2013 at 9:47 AM

I am not sure what the Amish people think. Many of the authors who write Amish fiction have family members or friends that are Amish. Reading the non-fiction book for this post and some other articles, the Amish communities are struggling in today’s world since often they can not make enough money farming to pay the taxes etc. More Amish are having to find employment interacting more with the outside world and the communities and their Ordnung is sometimes changing to reflect those changes. I highly recommend reading On the Background of Heaven to get a better understanding of their history and their current struggles. Many of the the newer Amish fiction books written are reflecting these conflicts.

David March 8, 2013 at 1:25 PM

Follow this link to read an interesting article on “bonnet fiction”:

http://www.salon.com/2012/09/01/amish_fiction_put_a_bonnet_on_it/

As for Lesley’s interesting question, author Jerry Eicher told the “Salon” writer that “Amish people pretty much despise the novels.”

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