Over the past several years when editors asked me how to describe the Farm Fresh Romance series I was writing, I’d say it was something like Amish fiction—but not.
I didn’t give that answer simply because Amish was popular and no one had a clue where my stories fit. I really do think there is a readership overlap.
From my research, I believe readers love Amish fiction for several reasons. They’re certain of a chaste relationship. They see extended families involved in one another’s lives. They see people satisfied with fewer earthly goods than current society says is necessary. They see people living in harmony with nature and the seasons, doing an honest day’s work and reaping direct benefits from it. They see people whose faith impacts every choice they make.
In the article “Why Amish Romance Novels are Hot,” author Valerie Weaver-Zercher says, “. . . the plots for most Amish novels concern matters such as family conflicts, a young woman’s questions about whether to join the church, disconcerting overtures from a non-Amish man, and so on. Farming, gardening, canning, quilting, making harnesses, courting in the buggy and visiting on the porch constitute characters’ main activities.”
Other readers love to read about small town and rural life, notably western ranches. The folks at Love Inspired say their subscribers prefer these settings over bustling cities.
And now there is Farm Lit, less about rugged cowboys and long days in the saddle, and more about gardens and mulch, chickens and pigs.
It’s similar to Amish fiction in that both are based on rural living and everything managing a farm entails.
It’s different in that living on a farm isn’t centered on religion. It doesn’t require a certain dress code or a ban on electricity. Anyone can aspire to farm life without giving up their current denominational allegiance, their favorite jeans, or their 3/4-ton pickup truck. In fact, a dependable 4×4 is not considered a luxury item for many farmers!
While the Amish might call theirs a plain life, most nonAmish farmers would say it is simple—not the same thing as “easy.”
In my recent release, Raspberries and Vinegar, the hero, Zach, is reluctantly back working on his parents’ farm while his dad recovers from a devastating illness. He thinks the girls next door are crazy for voluntarily choosing farm life and is sure it won’t last long, once they break a fingernail or two.
Zach says city life is the easy life. All he needs is a good enough job (his recent veterinary degree should clinch that) to live the life he wants, buy what he wants, and eat out instead of cooking and cleaning up behind himself. What could be easier?
If our goal is an easy life, neither Amish living nor farm living is the right. But if we desire a peaceful life, whether plain or simple, there is much to recommend the farm.
The Amish have I Thessalonians 4:11-12 down pat: “Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life. You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.” (NIV)
What’s your take? Is the life you lead plain, simple . . . or quiet? If not, is that your heart’s desire? How can you get there from where you now live?