Joe Springer, curator of the Mennonite Historical Library at Goshen College, wants the library to contain all books ever published by and about Mennonites, Amish and Hutterites. He not only knows the MHL catalog, but he combs both rare book and new book catalogs and seems to remember whatever he has seen.
So when I was writing “In This Issue” as an introduction to serial fiction by and about Mennonites and Amish, I wanted to include a paragraph listing of all such authors’ names. I knew of eleven. I sent the list to him, asking him to add any others that I had missed.
When I saw that his list totaled almost three times as many names as mine, I knew I was in trouble. Or, better yet, that here was a phenomenon that needed to be named and explored. One thing led to another, and I compiled the informal bibliography that follows: a rather complete listing of authors, brief biographies, names of series, publishers, individual books and dates of publication.
Most of the series found here fall within the category irreverently called “chick lit” by critics, or, in this case, “bonnet lit,” alluding to the severe head coverings worn by most of the young Mennonite and Amish heroines of these romances, which are usually set in a pastoral countryside. The amazing public following that these books have created in the U.S. and Canada is analyzed in such essays as Jana Reiss’s “Hitching a Ride on the Amish Buggy,” Publishers Weekly 255:22 (June 2, 2008), 58, and ”Christian Fiction Editors Talk Trends: Bonnets Multiply; Goodbye, Chick Lit,” Publishers Weekly 257:10 (March 8, 2010), 1-6. See also Alexandra Alter’s ”They’re No Bodice Rippers, but Amish Romances Are Hot,” Wall Street Journal 254:59 (Sept. 9, 2009), A1-A20.
If such series are not mainly about romance, they tend to be mystery or detective narratives, with the main sleuth being an unlikely Amish woman or other “plain” person.
Another category is of books for children, with their main intent being to describe and interpret the “simple” lifestyle, hoping to instill wholesome moral, spiritual and cultural values in young readers.
The bibliography also includes fiction of greater literary achievement, such as the serial novels by P. L. Gaus, Judy Clemens, Karl Schroeder and Armin Wiebe, as well as Schroeder’s early compatriot in science fiction, A. E. van Vogt.
Most of the writing documented here falls under the radar of the kind of academic literary criticism found at Mennonite literature conferences and in Mennonite scholarly journals. It should not. Yes, it is “popular” literature. But literary criticism has merged into cultural criticism, which acknowledges no hierarchies. And the very popularity of such literature—rankings on theNew York Times best-seller lists, hundreds of thousands of copies sold in both the secular romance and the evangelical Christian markets—makes it a cultural phenomenon on whose reception Mennonites should turn a critical eye. Perhaps a conference devoted to popular Anabaptist serial fiction, or a special issue of The Mennonite Quarterly Review is in order. The bibliographical list presented here should both make that point and help make such study possible.
The limitations of the bibliography are many, partly because it is based on information from websites, amazon.com and the Mennonite Historical Library at Goshen College – occasionally none of which agree.
- Publishers of any one series over the years, or of hardcover become paperback, vary. Some titles are apparently author-published.
- Although most books are listed, top to bottom, in the order in which they were published in the series, the publication dates given may be for the in-print edition, not for the original publication; or for the paperback rather than the original hardback.
- Some “series” consist of a single book or two, with a contract for more. One announced series does not yet have a book in print. Brackets around a title indicate that the book is forthcoming.
- Hard facts about authors are sometimes difficult to find, hence the very brief biographical notes, which mostly concern the author’s possible connection with Amish and Mennonite communities. More information can be found on most authors’ websites and blogs.
- The nature of “series” is variable. In any one series, most books are set in the same location, but the central characters may be different and the narratives are likely not continuous through the series.
Many popular books about Amish and Mennonites are one-time titles, not in series. For instance, Jodi Picoult’s best-selling Plain Truth is not in the list, nor are other stand-alone titles by the authors whose series are listed here.
Some authors of Mennonite and Amish fiction series probably have been unintentionally omitted from this first such list. For instance, Dick Metheny, Vanetta Chapman, Gail Sattler and David and Neta Thiessen Jackson may be, or may become, authors of series.
I welcome corrections and additions.
Bender, Carrie. Pseudonym for an Old Order Mennonite woman from Pennsylvania. Her books are for middle school readers and older.
Miriam’s Journal, Herald Press
A Fruitful Vine 1993
A Winding Path 1994
A Joyous Heart 1994
A Treasured Friendship 1996
A Golden Sunbeam 1996
Whispering Brook, Herald Press
Whispering Brook Farm 1995
Summerville Days 1996
Chestnut Ridge Acres 1997
Hemlock Hill Hideaway 2000
Woodland Dell’s Secret 2002
Timber Lane Cove 2003
Joy’s Journal, Masthof Press
Tall Cedars Homestead 2002
Beachwood Acres 2003
Majestic Oak Memoirs 2003
Lamplight on the Hearth 2005
Dora’s Diary, A. B. Publishers
Brick Hollow Schoolmarm 1999
Lilac Blossom Time 2002
Beyond Mist Blue Mountains 2003
Millstream Orchards Family 2004
Rock Garden Ramblings 2005
Johanna’s Journal, A. B. Publishers
Melody of My Heart 2003
On Wings of Serenity 2004
Briar Rose Cottage 2004
Willow Creek Valley Farm, A. B. Publishers
Willow Creek Valley Farm 2002
Bittersweet Journey 2003
Horseshoe Knoll 2003
Trailblazing in Penn’s Woods 2005 (Masthof Press)
A Home in the Wilderness 2006
Borntrager, Mary Christner (d. 2002). Mennonite from Hartville, Ohio, born Amish. Her books are for middle school readers and older.
Ellie’s People, Herald Press
Brunstetter, Wanda. Husband is a Nazarene minister who was raised in a Mennonite church in Pennsylvania. Wanda is a professional ventriloquist who gives programs using an Amish puppet named Solomon Lapp.
Daughters of Lancaster County, Center Point
Storekeeper’s Daughter 2006
Quilter’s Daughter 2005
Bishop’s Daughter 2007
Brides of Lancaster County, Barbour
A Merry Heart 2006
Looking for a Miracle 2006
Plain and Fancy 2006
The Hope Chest 2006
Sisters of Holmes County, Barbour
A Sister’s Secret 2007
A Sister’s Test 2007
A Sisster’s Hope 2008
Brides of Webster County, Barbour
Going Home 2007
On Her Own 2008
Dear to Me 2007
Allison’s Journey 2008
Rachel Yoder (for 8-12 yr. olds), Barbour
School’s Out 2007
Back to School 2007
Out of Control 2008
New Beginnings 2008
A Happy Heart 2008
Just Plain Foolishness 2008
Jumping to Conclusions 2009
Growing Up 2009
Indiana Cousins, Barbour
A Cousin’s Promise 2009
A Cousin’s Prayer 2009
A Cousin’s Challenge 2010
Byler, Linda. Amish, Shippensburg, PA. Her books are “based on actual life events in the small Amish community.”
Lizzie Buggy Spoke Series (for 9 yrs and up), Carlisle Printing
Lizzie and Emma 2004
Lizzie’s Carefree Years 2004
Lizzie and Mandy 2005
Lizzie’s Teen Years 2005
Lizzie and Stephen 2006
Lizzie’s Married Years 2008
Lizzie Searches for Love, Good Books
Running Around (and Such) 2010
When Strawberries Bloom 2010
[Big Decisions 2011]
(This series is a repackaging by a commercial publisher of the “Lizzie” series originally self-published by author Byler.)
Quilts of Lancaster County
[A Time to Love]
Clemens, Judy.(See author bio in other contents of this issue of the CMW journal.)
Stella Crown Series, Poisoned Pen Press
Till the Cows Come Home 2004
Three Can Keep a Secret 2005
To Thine Own Self Be True 2006
The Day Will Come 2007
Different Paths 2008
The Grim Reaper, Poisoned Pen Press
Embrace the Grim Reaper 2009
The Grim Reaper’s Dance 2010
Clipston, Amy. Graduate in communication from Virginia Wesleyan College, now public information specialist for city of Charlotte, NC, where she lives.
Kauffman Amish Bakery, Zondervan
A Gift of Grace 2009
A Promise of Hope 2010
Crossings of Promise, for young and adult readers, is a very loosely related series of historical novels about Mennonites and Hutterites published by Herald Press. The books by Dick, Smith and Christner are separate sets of “serial” fiction but the book by Tekavec has no sequel.
Dianne Christnerof Scottsdale, AZ.
Keeper of Hearts 2002
[Thy Brother’s Keeper]
Janice Dick, Mennonite Brethren from rural Guernsey, SK.
Calm before the Storm 2002
Eye of the Storm 2003
Out of the Storm 2004
Hugh Alan Smith
When Lightning Strikes 2001
When the River Calls 2004
The Cost of Passage (2004)
Davids, Patricia. Nurse in Witchita, KS, born on a farm near Chapman in north central Kansas.
Brides of Amish Country (within Love Inspired series), Steeple Hill
The Doctor’s Blessing 2010
Katie’s Redemption 2010
Duerksen, Carol (with Maynard Knepp). They live on a farm between Hillsboro and Goessel, KS, members of Tabor Mennonite Church. Carol has been editor of With, a Mennonite publication for youth. Maynard grew up Amish near Yoder in central Kansas.
Jonas [Bontrager] (for elementary school age), WillowSpring Downs
Runaway Buggy 1995
Skye [Jonas’ twin granddaughters], WillowSpring Downs
Affair of the Heart 1998
Kate [Weaver] (for adults), WillowSpring Downs
Nobody’s Kate 2003
Who’s Kate 2006
Slickfester [an Amish cat] (for 3rdand 4thgraders), WillowSpring Downs
Stickfester Dude Tells Bedtime Stories 1997
Stickfester Dude Visits the Amish 2003
Eicher, Jerry. A contractor from Farmville, VA, who has “a love for the Amish people” and writes about them “from an inside perspective.”
Sarah, Harvest House
Sarah’s Son 2007
Hannah’s Heart, Harvest House
Hannah’s Dream 2009
A Hope for Hannah 2010
Adams County Trilogy, Harvest House
Rebecca’s Promise 2009
Rebecca’s Return 2009
Rebecca’s Choice 2010
Ellis, Mary. Native of Geauga County, OH, now living in the four-county area of Ohio with the world’s largest population of Amish.
Miller Family, Harvest House
A Widow’s Hope 2009
Never Far from Home 2010
The Way to a Man’s Heart 2010
Sarah’s Christmas Miracle 2010
Fisher, Suzanne Woods.Graduate of Westmont College living in the San Francisco area, producer of a radio program, “Amish Wisdom.” Her grandfather was “raised Plain” in an Old Order German Baptist church in Franklin County, PA.
Lancaster County Secrets, Revell
The Choice 2010
The Waiting 2010
[The Search 2011 + 4 more promised titles]
Fuller, Kathleen. Teacher, native of New Orleans now living in Geneva, OH.
The Hearts of Middlefield, Thomas Nelson
A Man of His Word 2009
An Honest Love 2010
The Mysteries of Middlefield (for young adults), Thomas Nelson
A Summer Secret 2010
Gaus, P[aul]. L. (See his bio in other contents of this CMW journal.)
Ohio Amish Mystery, Ohio University Press
Blood of the Prodigal 1999
Broken English 2000
Clouds without Rain 2001
Cast a Blue Shadow 2003
A Prayer for the Night 2006
Separate from the World 2008
Gray, Shelley Shepard Gray. Houston native now living in southern Ohio, one hour west of the world’s largest Amish community.
The Seasons of Sugarcreek, Avon Inspire
February – Winter’s Awakening 2010
May – Spring’s Renewal 2010
[August – August’s Promise]
Sisters of the Heart, Avon Inspire
Harper, Karen. English teacher, Ohio native living in Columbus.
Maplecreek Amish Trilogy, Wheeler/Mira
Dark Road Home 1996
Dark Harvest 2004
Dark Angel 2005
Hoff, B. J. Lives in east central Ohio near the largest Amish community in the world.
Riverhaven Years (historical fiction), Harvest House
Rachel’s Secret 2008
Where Grace Abides 2009
Kraus, Harry L. Virginia Mennonite missionary surgeon in Kenya who graduated from Eastern Mennonite High School, Eastern Mennonite University, University of Virginia.
Claire McCall, Zondervan
Could I Have This Dance? 2002
For the Rest of My Life 2004
All I’ll Ever Need 2007
Lewis, Beverly Jones. (See her bio in other contents of this CMW journal.)
Heritage of Lancaster County, Bethany House
The Shunning 1997
The Confession 1997
The Reckoning 1998
Abram’s Daughter, Bethany House
The Covenant 2002
The Betrayal 2003
The Sacrifice 2004
The Prodigal 2004
The Revelation 2005
Annie’s People, Bethany House
The Preacher’s Daughter 2005
The Englisher 2006
The Brethren 2006
Amish Country Crossroads, Bethany House
The Postcard 2007
The Crossroads 2007
The Sanctuary 2001
Courtship of Nellie Foster, Bethany House
The Parting 2007
The Forbidden 2008
The Longing 2008
Seasons of Grace, Bethany House
The Secret 2009
The Missing 2009
The Telling 2010
Lodge, Hillary Manton. Freelance photographer in Eugene, OR.
Plain and Simple, Harvest House
Plain Jayne 2010
Simply Sara 2010
Mehl, Nancy. Lives in Wichita, KS, where she runs an HUD program for the city and volunteers with the Wichita Homebound Outreach program.
Harmony [Kansas], Barbour
Simple Secrets 2010
Simple Deceit 2010
Myers, Tamar. Resident of Charlotte, NC, “of Amish background,” now of the Jewish faith. Raised in the Congo by Mennonite missionary parents.
Pennsylvania Dutch Mystery with Recipes, Doubleday/Penguin/Obsidian/Dutton.
Too Many Cooks Spoil the Broth 1994
Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Crime 1995
No Use Dying over Spilt Milk 1996
Just Plain Pickled to Death 1997
Between a Wok and a Hard Place 1998
Eat, Drink and Be Wary 1998
Play It Again, Spam 1999
The Hand That Rocks the Ladle 2000
The Crepes of Wrath 2001
Gruel and Unusual Punishment 2002
Custard’s Last Stand 2003
Thou Shalt Not Grill 2004
Assault and Pepper 2005
Grape Expectations 2006
As the World Churns 2008
Better off Dead 2009
Butter Safe Than Sorry 2010
Perry, Marta. Lifelong resident of rural Pennsylvania, with Pennsylvania Dutch roots.
Pleasant Valley Amish, Berkley Books
Leah’s Choice 2009
Rachel’s Garden 2010
Risner, Fay. Lives in rural Keystone, IA, near an Amish community. Works as nurse aide at Keystone Nursing Care Center.
Nurse Hal Among the Amish, Booksbyfay
A Promise Is a Promise 2009
The Rainbow’s End 2010
Roper, Gayle. Lives in southeast Pennsylvania, for five years was director of the St. David’s Writer’s Conference.
The Amish Farm Trilogy, Harvest House
A Stranger’s Wish 2010, originally The Key 1998
A Secret Identity 2010, originally The Document 1998
The Decision (1999)
Sawyer, Kim Vogel. Kansas resident, former teacher.
Sommerfeld Trilogy, Barbour
Katy Lambright, Zondervan
Katy’s New World 2010
Katy’s Debate 2010
[two more promised in 2011]
Schroeder, Karl. (See his bio linked to his contribution to this issue—July 2010—of the CMW journal.)
Virga, TOR Books
Sun of Suns 2006
Queen of Candace 2007
Pirate Sun 2008
The Sunless Countries 2009
Van Vogt, A. E.(1912-2000). Born in the Russian Mennonite community of Edenburg, Manitoba. To Hollywood in 1944. Early follower of Ron Hubbard, Scientology, but broke with him. Leading writer in mid-20thcentury “Golden Age of Science Fiction.”
Null-A (intuition = non-Aristotelian logic), various publishers
The World of Null-A 1948, rpt. Dennis Dobson/Orb Books/Berkley
The Pawns of Null-A 1956 aka The Players of A, The Players of Null-A, rpt. Berkeley
Null-A Three 1984 Yankee Book Peddler
Gutental Series, Turnstone Press
The Salvation of Yasch Siemens 1984
Murder in Gutental 1991
The Second Coming of Yeeat Shpanst 1995
Wiseman, Beth. Texas native with Amish and Mennonite contacts in Lancaster County. Has contract for 10 Amish novels and 3 novellas through 1013.
Daughters of the Promise, Thomas Nelson
Plain Perfect 2008
Plain Pursuit 2009
Plain Promise 2009
Plain Paradise 2010
[Plain Proposal 2011]
Woodsmall, Cindy. Lived in Maryland dairyland from 10 years of age, befriended an Amish-Mennonite girl until teenage years. Lives in Georgia now but maintains friendship with an Old Order Amish family, who brainstorm with her and vet her writing.
Sisters of the Quilt, WaterBrook Press
When the Heart Cries 2006
When the Morning Comes 2007
When the Soul Mends 2008
Ada’s House, WaterBrook Press
Hope of Refuge 2009
The Bridge of Peace 2010
Workinger, Barbara. Lived in Pennsylvania Amish area for twenty years, researched Amish for ten years, now living in Portland, Oregon
Granny Hanny Mystery, Authorhouse
In Dutch Again 2002
Shoofly Pie to Die 2005
Amish Country Mystery
[Plain and Deadly]