Last Friday Elin left a comment on the post “Do we romanticize the Amish?“:

“I have read some of these books and enjoyed them but I have realized that the Amishness of the characters is not more than polish. They are often just stereotypical ‘good Christian’ wearing Amish clothes.

They are the same characters as in the Christian inspired fairytales I had as a child which me and my brothers and sisters used to read and snicker about when we got to about 10 or so when we could see how unbearingly good and perfect these people were and how unrealistic that was.

We knew by then that real people do not act like that and that is what I often feel when I meet the characters of an Amish fiction book. They are just stories about how the perfect Christian would react and Amish hasn’t anything to do with that.”

I find this topic interesting.  But I’ll be frank, I’m not up to date on Amish fiction.

amish fictionI simply have not read much–a grand total of a few chapters.  Not that what I read wasn’t entertaining.  I just have a long list of books to read and tend to favor non-fiction.

But knowing how Amish are portrayed in other areas of media, I can see how Elin’s assessment could be the case.

However I wonder if those who’ve read Amish fiction books have an opinion. On the same post, Beth, who actually writes Amish fiction, added:

“Readers can’t get enough of the Amish life style and traditions. They don’t want to read non-fiction Amish, they want the story as they think it should be in their minds, which is very often not accurate.”

Again, I can’t comment on specifics, but it seems to me that to write a compelling story (or, for that matter, to keep readers’ attention for an entire series of books) “character” would be important.

For those who know Amish fiction better, are these opinions correct?  Are the characters in Amish fiction deeper than one-dimensional stereotypes?

Do readers want the “ideal Amish” portrayal–or something more complex?

Photo credit: Gregg Obst

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