Amish fiction is the kind of fiction I read when I want something wholesome, old and filled with drama and tropes. I haven’t read it in a while, because I realized I preferred the stories based on reality that are told in movie form, because of certain common Amish fiction tropes.
1. Christian fiction
Christian fiction is problematic in and of itself, but I won’t get to that right now. Because Amish fiction is more often a subset of Christian fiction, therefore the authors are not Amish, but evangelical Christians instead, Amish culture depicted is based on various research from the author’s visitations.
While Beverly Lewis lived near two Old Order Amish communities and researched, she is still not Amish herself, but an evangelical Christian. And due to the faults of Christian fiction, there is even more of an Arcadia-type trope created in Amish fiction stories — so much to the point that the people who consume them start to romanticize the Amish community, wishing themselves and everyone else in the world lived by simpler means and with more ignorance regarding that which went on with the world.
Thusly, the more radical side of Amish life, like abuse, is not included in the story so as to be respectful of their culture and encourage the romanticization of the lifestyle.
Ironically, Old Order Amish communities frown on evangelism for their Holier Than Thou attitudes.
2. Left & shunned, but still loving & fearing God
During Rumspringa, some youth may rebel, but it is apparently not a common thing.
However, there is a matter of the main characters leaving their Amish community, and even when the reasons are rational, the return results in the character — always female — being gaslit.
Woman leaves, either because of familial dysfunction and the expectation to ignore it, or because she’s being forced to suppress certain aspects of herself (emotional, sexual, whatever), or because of a form of abuse.
In this new life she has made for herself, she is happy, but something is missing; she follows God, but the man she is with does not; and her social life is nil.
Upon returning for whatever reason — her mom/dad has died is the return plot I get — Prince Amish always makes her want to stay, but first she must throw her outside life away and reclaim her Amish faith.
I really don’t understand why, if they leave their Amish life behind, they continue to practice they Amish-style faith — especially after reading/watching nonfiction-based stories where the people who left don’t adhere to those values anymore.
It’s like, they’ve left and are shunned, but they still abide by this place they come from, despite wanting nothing to do with it.
And their lives aren’t great and fulfilling. They’re in a cubicle. Their guy won’t tie the knot as quickly as they want, or he’s perfect in every way but one and that’s the deal breaker, or he doesn’t satisfy her emotionally (never sexually, we don’t even go there).
Doesn’t make any sense to me.
3. Romance required
All the focus is on romance. Always.
Never do the friendships or familial relationships save the main character.
Amish fiction is really just romanticized simple Amish-inspired Little House on the Prairie Christian romance fiction.
4. Main character is female.
I’m all for female MCs, but…Amish fiction + female MC = romance, duh.
It’s always about a man this, man that, and it’s funny, because they fail the Bechdel test. A man is at the center of every. single. scene.
Their lives revolve around men.
And this is the reason I’ve not read Amish fiction since the last one I read — I don’t even remember anymore. I bought from Goodwill The Seeker, but haven’t read it, and I don’t think I ever will.
The four Amish fiction novels in my possession will not make it to my first apartment.
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Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction
I’ve read one or two Amish YA novels, but that’s it. I can definitely see how the stories aren’t based on much reality.
I had always been curious about Amish fiction books but had always hesitated. They all seemed like nothing more than Christian romance novels which you confirmed for me here. I do like clean romances but some of the themes that you mention seem uncomfortable to me. The fact that it romanticizes the lifestyle while leaving out the not so good parts is definitely an issue.