While the house was being built I would occasionally find little scribbles here and there—work-related phone numbers, purchase notes, reminders—and love letters. Or rather, love graffiti. The Amish built the house, and the young man who did the tile work in the bathroom was (and presumably still is) very sweet, very hard-working…and smitten. See that picture below? I found it on the wall one evening, after the men had gone home for the day. It’s still there, beneath the tile. Always will be. There’s something comforting in that. We all leave marks. You live, you leave a mark on the world. You can’t help it. People just…ripple outwards.
But here’s something else that made me think of those pictures: Amish Romance Novels.
Ms. Woodsmall writes “bonnet books,” or Amish love stories, which are a booming new subcategory of the romance genre. The books, written by non-Amish writers, are aimed at a mainstream audience. But Ms. Woodsmall researches her stories among the Pennsylvania Amish, and she has a loyal Amish following.
The plot of her 2006 novel, “When the Heart Cries,” revolves around Hannah, a young Amish woman who falls in love with a Mennonite and hides her plans to marry him from her strict parents…”
“I can’t stop reading them,” said Mary Ann Blank, an Amish woman with a wide smile and graying hair she wears neatly parted under her prayer cap. She clutched her signed copy of the third book in Ms. Woodsmall’s “Sisters of the Quilt” series, published by WaterBrook Press, a Random House imprint. “I usually better not start in the morning because then I sit around too long,” she added.
I love that. Now, there is some controversy, as you would expect—but apparently, not as much as you would expect. I actually have quite a few of Cindy Woodsmall’s books, though I haven’t had time to start reading them. I think, though, they’ll be next on my list.