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You are going to read a magazine article about a new literary phenomenon.
Romance Fiction Trend: Amish Love Stories
1 . Put aside that titillating vampire lit. Author Beverly Lewis has come up with a new
magic formula for producing best-selling romance novels: humility, plainness and no
sex. Lewis' G-rated books, set among the Old Order Amish in Lancaster County,
Pennsylvania, have sold more than 12 million copies, as bodice rippers make room for
"bonnet books," chaste romances that chronicle the lives and loves of America's Amish.
2 .Lewis has just published a new novel, The Secret
, set in the idyllic village of Bird-in-
Hand, which debuts on the New York Times
paperback best-seller list April 19 at No.
10. Spurred by her success — and that of best-selling authors Cindy Woodsmall and
Wanda Brunstetter (whose new book, A Cousin's Promise
, is set among the Amish in
Indiana) — more than a dozen other Christian-romance novelists are eschewing Sex
and the City
-type story lines for horse-and-buggy piety. "There still isn't enough
inventory," marvels Avon Inspire's Cynthia DiTiberio, who edits Shelley Shepard Gray,
a recent entrant to this genre. And there's no shortage of demand: romance fiction, of
which Amish-themed novels command a growing share, generates nearly $1.4 billion in
sales each year, and that number is rising.
3 . Readers come away from bonnet books with an easy-to-digest history lesson and,
, a little Pennsylvania Dutch dialect. There are occasional strident notes — a
character or two who sound as if they'd be more at home at a Starbucks than at a
Singing. But at their best, these books capture the quiet faith that suffuses Amish life.
Which is not to say the Amish don't ever have fun. Most of the books are set during the
, or "running around" years, the time when the Amish lift the
4 .Lewis' books in particular are an antidote to overstimulated nerves. The Amish (who
number about 230,000, mostly in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana) are notable for
what they reject — from televisions to electric kitchen appliances to zippers — which
means a quiet environment for readers. The pace is slow and soothing; no
conversations in Bird-in-Hand are interrupted by a ringing cell phone.
5 . Still, simplicity doesn't necessarily mean serenity. In The Secret
, Lettie Byler, a
troubled wife and mother in a devout Amish home, is, for some mysterious reason,
depressed and tearful. Eventually she disappears into the night, in what is "surely the
most remarkable tittle-tattle to hit the area in recent years." Englischers
(i.e., the non-
Amish) might have steered Lettie into a psychiatrist's office for a course of Prozac. But
Lettie's large family has other modes of counsel: talking and cooking and harvesting
and raising barns and praying together. Her 21-year-old daughter Grace holds the
family together with her steely determination; Judah, Lettie's uncommunicative
6 .It hardly sounds like the stuff of controversy, but Lewis' novels have been banned by
some Amish leaders in Ohio because of theological differences. Perhaps unsurprisingly,
that has not prevented the books from reaching an Amish readership. Lewis has
received thousands of letters over the years from Amish fans. "I don't want to mislead
you, Mrs. Lewis," confided a correspondent. "All of us are reading them under the
covers." Barnes & Noble's religion-book buyer, Jane Love, confirms that sales are
7 . Lewis came to the subject as a matter of genealogy. Her grandmother was a horse-
and-buggy Mennonite who was shunned by her community for marrying a covenant
preacher. "It was a very courageous move for her," says Lewis. "She was 18 when she
left. She took off her head covering, and she decided that she was going to wear a
simple gold wedding band, and she was excommunicated." Lewis' first novel, The
, which told that story, was a surprise hit that sold more than a million copies.
In all, she has written 87 books, many for children and teens.
8 .Like her fellow chroniclers of the Amish, Lewis proves that it isn't necessary to lace
every scene with lust to keep the reader's attention. Grace's suitor in The Secret
tenderly proposes to her without ever having kissed her. "'Tis mighty gut
," he says with
deep affection. "Will you agree to be my bride?" That scene is not likely to be repeated
outside Lancaster County anytime soon, but Bird-in-Hand is an appealing place for a
to escape to for a while — which is part of the romance, after all.
Take into account that 3 of the paragraphs must be used twice and one mustn’t be used
In which of the paragraphs above does the writer refer to
2. romantic novels full of passion and set in earlier times? 1
4. the age of most of the characters in bonnet books?
5. a particularly single-minded character in a book?
9. how the Amish feel about bonnet books?
10. the fact that books can be gripping without sex.
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