Mennonite and Amish Serial Fiction: An Informal Bibliography

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.

E. B.

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

Forget-me-not-lane 2004

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

Ellie 1988

Polly 1994

Annie 1997

Mandy 1996

Sarah 1995

Andy 1993

Rebecca 1989

Reuben 1992

Rachel 1990

Daniel 1991

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 2003

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.)

Cameron, Barbara.

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

Heather Tekavec

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

Hitched 1996

Preacher 1996

Becca 1997

Skye [Jonas’ twin granddaughters], WillowSpring Downs

Twins 1997

Affair of the Heart 1998

Swede 2000

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 2007

Sarah’s Son 2007

Hannah’s Heart, Harvest House

Hannah 2009

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

Hidden 2008

Wanted 2009

Forgiven 2009

Grace 2010

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

Bygones 2007

Beginnings 2007

Blessings 2007

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

Wiebe, Armin.

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

[3rdbook forthcoming]

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]

About the Author

Ervin Beck

Ervin Beck is Professor Emeritus of English at Goshen College, where he taught English, dramatic literature, postcolonial literature, folklore and Mennonite Literature, He was Fulbright professor of English and folklore at the University College of Belize and, following retirement, taught twice at LCC International University in Lithuania. He has published widely in his teaching fields, including articles on Mennonite and Amish folk arts and folklore, as in the books MennoFolk 1 and MennoFolk 2. He was an original co-editor of this online journal and a planner of the Mennonite/s Writing conferences at Goshen College in 1992 and 2002. He lives in Goshen, Indiana.