The first Amish fiction I ever read was written by Beverly Lewis. I consumed every book I could find in the months after we moved to Amish country in Pennsylvania. Then the novelty wore off and I found myself bored by the premise.
In the past year, though, I’ve found some authors of Amish fiction who write some really good stories in unique settings and viewpoints. So, if you’re a fan of Amish fiction, here are five more authors and/or books to check out. If you’re not a fan, or you’re bored with what you’ve been reading, you might find something here to pique your interest.
I don’t generally seek out Amish fiction but this one hooked me because of its unique time period: World War II. (Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for my review.) “Amish” and “military” aren’t two words I’d think to put together, and author Elizabeth Byler Younts offers a sweet and heartbreaking look at how one Amish couple endured the war. She also writes with family knowledge and background of the Amish people lending an authority to her writing that I wouldn’t question. At times, though, I forgot the book was set in the 1940s because the Amish customs and lifestyle seem not to have changed much since then. It was only in the interactions with the non-Amish characters in the book that I remembered the time period. I enjoyed this debut novel and look forward to the next one in the series.
2. Leslie Gould’s The Courtships of Lancaster County series, which are based on Shakespere’s plays and set among the Amish. I’ve read the first two, Courting Cate, Gould’s take on The Taming of the Shrew and Adoring Addie, which is inspired by Romeo and Juliet. I’m a fan of retellings because I think they’re clever and take just as much (if not more) work than a completely original story. Both of these books are entertaining, and as a fan of Shakespeare, I can’t resist.
3. The Outcast by Jolina Petersheim. Another retelling of a classic, this time The Scarlet Letter. Technicially not Amish fiction, I count it in the same category because the setting is among Old Order Mennonites. For better or worse, the average reader of this genre (I am one of them) won’t see a lot of difference in setting. Unique points-of-view in the story and plenty of mystery as to who is the father of the out-of-wedlock baby. Again, points for creativity.
4. Mindy Starns Clark is a fabulous all-around writer, and while I’ve yet to read any of her co-authored Amish fiction, I’ve read some of her mysteries, two of which are set in Lancaster County. Secrets of Harmony Grove and Shadows of Lancaster County are thrilling and suspenseful. They give me just enough reason to try another set of Amish fiction books. Plus, I know she’s done her research. Clark is a semi-local to Amish country. She knows her stuff.
5. Shelley Adina writes two kinds of fiction: steampunk (which I’m dying to try now) and Amish. The latter she writes under the name Adina Senft. She also has family history with the Plain community. I recently read The Hidden Life, the second book in her Amish Quilt series, and I have to be honest, this one was my favorite of any I’ve mentioned here. (Oh, how I hate to play favorites with books. That’s like picking a favorite child!) The characters had such depth and a realness about them that I felt like I could stop by and visit. And I laughed. Like out loud. These characters were fun and had personality, something that is often lacking among Amish characters I’ve read. Yes, they live a different lifestyle than us, but they’re people after all. I appreciated the lightness of their conversations, as well as the seriousness of the situations they faced. I also found the pace of the dialogue and writing mimicked the natural speech patterns of Lancaster County. It felt like what I hear almost daily around here. I would read more Amish fiction if it was all written like this.
What about you: Do you tend toward the bonnet books? Why or why not?