In 2012, a new Amish romance novel appeared on the market about every four days. Sixty more were published in 2012 than in 2009, and 83 more than in 2002. The top three Amish-fiction authors — Beverly Lewis, Wanda Brunstetter, and Cindy Woodsmall — have sold a combined total of more than 24 million books.
Many of the Amish people I have spoken with display a mix of bemusement and disgust at the novels, especially the covers, with their airbrushed models with plucked eyebrows. They point out glaring inaccuracies in some of the books, such as one Amish person calling another “Mr.” or “Mrs.” On the phone with me, Doretta Yoder expresses more trepidation about the genre than her glowing reviews might suggest. “I have some personal opinions about how some of them write about us,” she tells me, obliquely. “It seems like word has gotten out that if you write about the Amish, you can sell books. I think it’s getting out of hand.”
As we chat, it becomes apparent that this Amish woman has very little patience for Amish fiction. “They portray only a few of the Amish as open-minded,” she says, leaning forward in her chair. “Sometimes it appears to bother them that some Amish people are happy. They think we should long for all the things you have. Well, I’m sorry — not everyone wants music and fancy clothes.” Her voice rumples in irritation. “I actually think they’re kind of deceptive. I wouldn’t want my daughters reading them.”
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