Thrill of the Chaste winner
The Amish heroine lives with her parents, siblings, and widowed aunt on a verdant farm in Lancaster County. She is all but betrothed to her suitor, an Amish man whom she does not love. Enter a handsome English stranger, an artist who boards with the protagonist’s family to paint the picturesque folk and their surrounding locale. Our heroine falls hopelessly in love with him, and he with her. Underneath various subplots, including a brother’s romance, the mysterious death of a secondary character, and the protagonist’s clairvoyant intuitions, throbs the essential question: which guy will get the girl?
So goes a story line as intelligible to contemporary readers of Amish fiction as the now-familiar concepts of Rumspringa and shunning. Yet this narrative comes from a book over a century old: Helen Reimensnyder Martin’s 1905 novel Sabina: A Story of the Amish (Thrill of the Chaste p. 28).
Sabina was the first Amish fiction novel, and, as Valerie Weaver-Zercher explains in Thrill of the Chaste, by exhibiting 2 of 3 key elements–“its reliance on rural particularism and its use of romance as an engine of plot”–it already resembled the Amish fiction novels of today.
Chapter 2 of Thrill of the Chaste, “The DNA of Amish Romance Novels”, traces the development of the Amish fiction novel and the various ways Amish characters have been portrayed through the years.
Martin’s derogatory presentation of the Amish was followed three years later by an idealized portrayal in Cora Gottschalk Welty’s The Masquerading of Margaret (1908). Other notable Amish fiction works appeared in the 1930s and 1960s, before the current boom began with Beverly Lewis’ The Shunning, published in 1997.
Thrill of the Chaste giveaway winner
Johns Hopkins is giving away a copy of Thrill of the Chaste. I tallied your entries from both giveaway posts, and used random.org to generate a winner.
The winner is comment #17 from the “Submit your Questions” post, Sharon. Sharon please email your info to me and I will pass it on to Johns Hopkins who will send you your book. Thanks to everyone who participated.
If you didn’t win, you can find Thrill of the Chaste at the Johns Hopkins website, or on Amazon, among other places.
Rosanna of the Amish cover image
Question begging to be asked; is “Sabina: A Story of the Amish” still available in print?
If I were to start reading Amish Fiction I think I’d like to start at the beginning, or at least read it at some point along the way.
This set of entries, the Amish Fiction ones, have been very interesting.
I notice quite a few copies of Sabina on Amazon, though haven’t seen a Kindle version. Sometimes the very old books become public domain and you can get them as a free e-version, not sure how that applies to this one. I read a quite good free Jules Verne e-book last year, I think this was the last fiction book I read.
A Jules Verne was one of the first science fiction works I ever read, I got a copy (Twenty Thousand Leagues) as a gift from my now late Aunt and Uncle when I was a kid and I still have it, it’s a treasured edition in my book collection.
It looks like a well bound old book, my Verne.
I bet the author of Sabina wouldn’t imagine or know what to make of
kindle and things of that sort, I imagine however, Jules Verne would probably marvel at it, own one, and have a vast library of his own, if alive today, being a master of tech prophecy, though maybe he’d probably lement it a little too.
“The Mysterious Island” was the one I read. I was drawn to it as a complete 180 from what I usually read–good to do that now and again. Going by the title, it seemed like a book I would have enjoyed as a boy, and I found I thoroughly enjoyed it as a grown-up 🙂
I have the book Sabina of the Amish. A friend bought it for me because she knew I had an interest in the Amish and our church name is St. Sabina so it was kind of a cute fit. The book is a bit weird, to say the least with the clairvoyant stuff, and it portrays the Amish as kind of hicks. Then again, that could’ve been the author’s perception of them, maybe not having had much interaction. Also the way the Amish lived back then wasn’t very different from the way everyone else was living at the time so what the appeal was, I’m not too sure. Have a good week and congrats to Sharon on winning the book!
Sabina: A Story of the Amish as local color writing
Beth Valerie goes into the prejudices of Martin against the Amishin Ch. 2: “Martin’s portrayal of Sabina and her family is unabashed in its derision. The non-Amish male protagonist, Augustus Acker, who is lodging with Sabina’s family, uses adjectives like ‘queer’ and ‘ignorant’ and ‘commonplace’ to describe them, and Martin offers no authorial irony to suggest that his impressions are wrong” (p. 29).
The clunky names she selects for the Amish characters have to reflect a bit of this: “Ulmer Popple”, “Levi Wilt” (my apologies to any Ulmers reading this).
According to Valerie this could be characterized as a work of “regional fiction”, aka “local color” writing. “…regional fiction like Martin’s Sabina offered such upper-crust readers a ‘rustic vacation,’ of sorts, which ‘dealt with the threat of the foreign from within an apparently detached entertainment realm'” (p 30).
Congratulations, Sharon, lucky duck!
I’ll put the book on my Mothers Day list, though I’ll probably end up buying it for myself (OK with me)!
Thrill of the Chaste winner
Congratulations Sharon! I know you will enjoy reading this book.