Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Why is Amish Fiction so Popular? (Hope of Refuge Giveaway!)

If you have walked into a Christian bookstore lately, or thumbed through the Christian Book Distributor's catalog it would be hard not to notice that Amish fiction has just absolutely exploded with popularity. Ridiculously so. Everyday, I feel I'm hearing about a new author, or a beloved author who is now writing Amish fiction.

Truthfully, I've loved some of Beverly Lewis's books. Like so much. There's just so much story potential in such closed communities. But why does everyone else like Amish fiction so much?

I have a few theories.
1) Close community. Often these stories portray the Amish community as very tight. They make big sacrifices of time and resources for each other. They've known each other forever. It's hard in our world to find those kinds of community and I think we all crave it from time to time.

2) "Simple" Living. Their lives are anything but simple with all the work they do, but there is no television or cell phone to take them away from being fully present where they are.

3) Huge Sacrifice. The stakes are always so high. Love art? In order to paint you might have to sacrifice your relationship with your community to continue. Love that English boy? Have to leave the family behind. These decisions are heart wrenching and big. And lead to lots of secrets...

A very popular author whose Amish fiction works I haven't read is Cindy Woodsmall. I know that she is very very popular. She was even interviewed on Nightline about her popular books! You can watch that video online at ABC.

The publisher has sent me two copies of Cindy's newest book, The Hope of Refuge. I am going to give one of them away to one of you. This giveaway is open to anyone anywhere in the world! Here's the book synopsis:

Raised in foster care and now the widowed mother of a little girl, Cara Moore struggles against poverty, fear, and a relentless stalker. When a trail of memories leads Cara and Lori out of New York City toward an Amish community, she follows every lead, eager for answers and a fresh start. She discovers that long-held secrets about her family history ripple beneath the surface of Dry Lake, Pennsylvania, and it’s no place for an outsider. But one Amish man, Ephraim Mast, dares to fulfill the command he believes that he received from God–“Be me to her”– despite how it threatens his way of life.

Completely opposite of the hard, untrusting Cara, Ephraim’s sister Deborah also finds her dreams crumbling when the man she has pledged to build a life with begins withdrawing from Deborah and his community, including his mother, Ada Stoltzfus. Can the run-down house that Ada envisions transforming unite them toward a common purpose–or push Mahlon away forever? While Ephraim is trying to do what he believes is right, will he be shunned and lose everything–including the guarded single mother who simply longs for a better life?

Giveaway: If you can't wait to see if you win you can buy it here. Otherwise, to enter this giveaway, leave a comment and tell me why you think Amish fiction is so popular, your favorite Amish fiction book, or if you haven't ever read one, why you want to read one!

Be sure to leave a valid email address and I'll pick a winner at the end of this month.



Amee said...

I love Amish fiction. I started with Beverly Lewis and have branched out from there. I have Cindy's first series so I'd love to read more! I think Amish fiction is popular because it is sort of a mix of contemporary with the values that you might find in a historical fiction novel. It's that same feel but set in modern times. That's probably why I enjoy it so much. I live where you can often see Amish and have come in contact with many (just last week I had an exchange with an Amish woman) so that may also be why they fascinate me so much as well. It's hard to pick a favorite Amish novel but I'm going to have to go with The Postcard series and The Heritage of Lancaster County series (The Shunning, etc.). Those were my introduction into the Amish world and I'll always love them and consider them some of my favorite books.

Amee said...

Oops, I forgot to say that those two series that are my favorites are by Beverly Lewis, of course! :)

Melanie said...

I have read only a few books that tell stories about the Amish, but of those my favorite has been The Redemption of Sarah Cain. I really enjoyed how they mixed the two worlds together.

As for why I think Amish fiction is so popular, my theory is that because it's different. We are all drawn to things that are different from us, and Amish fiction is definitely that.

Michelle Fluttering Butterflies said...

I have never read Amish fiction, and I have no idea why it's popular! But I will be reading it soon.

An old friend of mine from high school is publishing an urban Amish fiction book which will be published early next year. I'll read it and maybe I'll let you know! :)

Michelle Fluttering Butterflies said...

Nice as it is, don't count me for the giveaway!

Alipet813 said...

I think it is so popular, because you are curious about what you don't know. You can't just go be Amish - it is something outside our realm of thinking. Plus, it seems simpler. When you see an Amish novel even if it is fiction you feel you are "inside" the secret world. It is like being a fly on the wall and who doesn't want that!! It is intriguing to think they also have relationship and family drama to learn about!

Margot at Joyfully Retired said...

I've read a couple of the Beverly Lewis books but I really loved Plain Perfect by Beth Wiseman. Put my name in the hat for this one. It sounds excellent.

Farmwife said...

I think the pull to the novels is the pull of community which we no longer have in our society. The knowing and being known by your community. The sharing and caring and helping each other when help is needed. I also think it is because of the innocence of the romance. There is a joy in simply being in each others presence. My favorite books are by Wanda Brunstetter. We have many Amish friends and have spent much time in Amish communities and homes and hers seem to come the closest to capturing the feel of it all and being fairly accurate in her portrayals.

Literate Housewife said...

I went to an Amish auction once about an hour or two outside of Pittsburgh and I have some very distinct memories from it - like the way the curtains hang in the window and the way that they dress. I tried very hard to focus just on the auction, but I was drawn to watch them and how they acted. They are an interesting group of people.

I have noticed those books all over the place - and it's not just at Christian bookstores. I see them in the pharmacy, grocery stores, etc... I've never picked one up one of them to read, though. I have read Jodi Picoult's Plain Truth that was very good.

I think you've picked some good reasons why there is so much Amish fiction. I think another reason is that people notice something is popular and then they jump on the bandwagon. With all those authors out there, I'm sure you would need to pick out the best. Not that a person who picks up on a trend can't write a good novel, I'm just wondering if those authors who have a heart for Amish literature write better?

Anonymous said...

The first Amish book I ever read was The Shunning (from The Heritage of Lancaster County series) by Beverly Lewis. I loved it so I read the other books in the series, as well. My favourite is still the first one in the series.
wandanamgreb (at) gmail (dot) com

Debbie F said...

I think Amish books are popular because most of us would love to get away from our busy lives and live a simple, quieter life. I know I would and these books take us to that place.

Thanks for the giveaway!
dcf_beth at verizon dot net

Beth (BBRB) said...

I've heard great things about these books and they do sound fascinating. I'd love to read one!

BethsBookReviewBlog AT gmail DOT com

Renee (BlacknGoldGirlsBookSpot) said...

My favorite Amish author is Beth Wiseman, I really love her book Plain Perfect! I haven't had a chance to read the other books in the series but I loved this one! Also Shelley Shepard Gray is a good author, her book Hidden is another one of my faves. I tend to lean towards the books that included "Englishers" as main characters because I like to see the interaction between them and the plain folk! Please enter me to win! I'd love to win Cindy's latest release!!


Carole said...

I love Amish fiction. For me, I'm drawn to their seemingly simple lifestyle, and for the honor, commitment and respect for authority that they exhibit.

I enjoy most all of the CF Amish writers, but my favorite book is Levi's Will by W. Dale Cramer, who just happens to be a friend of mine. I enjoy anything Dale writes, but Levi's Will is based on his Amish relatives and relationship with his father. He has enough family stories to have many more Amish books in his future.

Thank you so much for the chance to win a copy of Cindy's book.

cjarvis [at] bellsouth [dot] net

Vera said...

No need to enter (I'm giving away a copy on my blog as well) - just wanted to say that I loved Cindy Woodsmall's writing and could not put this book down! I do think simple living is one of the appeals of Amish literature. With all of us bogged down in cell phones, computers, cars, etc., it's nice to read about a less complicated way of life :)

Vera @

S. Krishna said...

No need to enter me, but I found this post really interesting! I've noticed the explosion in Amish fiction as well and didn't really get it until I read your post.

Mozi Esme said...

The blend of modern and traditional is appealing... I love it because I've spent a lot of time in Amish country and appreciate the serenity.

janemaritz at yahoo dot com

Dani In NC said...

My coworkers and I listened to Cindy Woodsmall's first trilogy on audio and it was very popular! I would finish one book and then pass it to the next person. The last book was in high demand from the library and everyone was dying until I was able to get it!

For me, Amish books appeal to me because I am attracted to rituals and traditions. I'm fascinated by cultures that have outward physical representations of their inner beliefs: fish on Friday, covering your head, no pork, etc. I also enjoy "fish out of water" stories, so I like the Amish stories where there is a good bit of interaction with Englishers.

Winning Readings said...

Not an entry - just a note that we've posted about this at Winning Readings:

JJ said...

Oh, I don't want to miss out on this one. Thanks.


Anonymous said...

My wife has read a large amount of Christian romance/fiction over the years. She even read a 23 book series that was also a historical fiction.
From what she has said and my own thoughts I would think that Amish fiction is so popular for more than one reason. First of all, people are always looking for a pure, simple and wholistic love story. When I think about the Amish people, I imagine that, yes they sin, but their sins aren't anything like the sins of the big cities. The seem to live a simpler life. A life that isn't dirtied by the world at large. So, if I'm reading a novel about an Amish love story I assume I'm not going to have to put up with a sorid love story but one that is beautiful and more than about the physical attraction. This is what I meant about being wholistic. I picture the Amish as a people that would typically look deeper than the physical, but into the heart and soul and any relationship would be that deep as well.
Philip Kledzik
"An Issue of the Heart"
"Painted Rooms"

Krista said...

Ooo, I hope I'm not too late to enter for this one! I like Amish stories and her series Sisters of the Quilt I read in about 36 hours (I didn't sleep much!).
I think the Amish stories tend to get segregated as a genre for 2 reasons. First because there wasn't much written about them until recently so it is still a fairly small niche (as compared to say "the wild west") and second because it's about a specific community that is easily identifiable. And because we still have Amish people living among us today people are curious, even for a glimpse through fiction!

CherylS22 said...

I've never read Amish fiction, but these books appeal to me. I find the Amish people to be good, hard-working people & have always been fascinated by their way of life. I think these books would give me an expanded knowledge of the Amish.
Thanks ~ megalon22{at}yahoo{dot}com

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