Book: Naomi’s Story: A romance in Amish country
Author: Melanie Schmidt
Genre: Amish Romance (although “Romance” is a stretch)
Cost: Free (as at October 2013)
Did I finish it? It was 10pm the night before I was due to leave the country for upwards of six months. I hadn’t really packed and had to be up in four hours. You bet I finished it.
Should you finish it? Nah. Unless you want to learn how to make an Amish salad. Otherwise read this instead.
Yes, Amish Romance is a genre. And what a genre. Who is it targeting? Melanie Schmidt didn’t really specify, but it’s probably safe to assume not the actual Amish, who tend to shirk all technology (kind of like the ‘me’ of a year ago, amirite?). Unless they
have a hall pass are on Rumspringa. So maybe this book is for that niche market?
Or maybe it’s for people like me, who are reading with the hope of getting some insight into this enigmatic sect’s sex lives. Surely the Amish think sexy thoughts? Does the guy with the nicest buggy get all the babes? Is there special Amish underwear? Unrelated, but do the Amish swear? Do they drink rum on Rumspringa?
All questions that went unanswered in Naomi’s Story.
But it’s not like I didn’t learn anything at all. For example, I now know that “aunty”, “dad”, “mister”, and “really good” in Amish (a politically incorrect way of referring to the Pennsylvanian Dutch dialect) is “aenti”, “daed”, “herr”, and “sehr gut”. Such words were peppered throughout the text in italics, to helpfully let you know they were in another language.
With Naomi’s Story, you get a watered-down romance. Along with a watered-down Amish version of feminism. I guess the book is for the Rumspringans after all. Or for Puritan-era enthusiasts.
In true Chick-Lit style, Naomi is different. She isn’t like all the other girls, who suck and are dumb and mean and probably ugly (except for the ones related to her, who are lovely and kind and generous and beautiful).
Eighteen-year-old Naomi Miller isn’t exactly like all of the other Amish girls. Sure, she wants to get married and start a family just like everyone else, but Naomi also uses her God-given talent to run a successful business, one she doesn’t want to be forced to give up for a family.
Smash that glass ceiling, girl.
Naomi is an entrepreneur (she makes and sells cakes and what-have-you at her own stall). But Daed is trying to marry her off. She is 18, after all, and ripe for the picking. He has his sights set on Old Man Hostetler, who doesn’t get the concept of business woman, and has a daughter (village bitch) the same age as Naomi. Ew.
This is all established in the first chapter (read in large font), drawn out with overdrawn declarations of aenti-niece love (she’s chatting to her aenti) and descriptions of Every. Single. Ingredient. In. A. dish.
… blah blah blah Food blah Yuck Old Man blah blah Don’t Wanna Marry Him blah I Sell Eggs At Market He Doesn’t Get It blah blah Daddy Why Won’t You Listen? Blah blah OK Thanks for Listening Great Now I Don’t Have To blah blah Single Ready To Mingle blah blah…
BAM we are suddenly introduced to her brother-in-law. He is dead. Just now he died. Surprise. The reader is invited to feel all the feels. This reader declined that invitation. I don’t even know the guy!
But Naomi is a woman of faith, and it seems God has thrown her a bone amidst this tragedy, other than the extremely analytical mind – so rare for a woman – he has blessed her with.
Naomi meets brother-of-the-deceased Seth, who I assume is the local hottie, as he holds the token name of local hotties USA-wide. She comforts Hot Seth, which apparently equates to flirting in Amish Country. Best way to get over someone is to get … oh that’s right, this is an Amish book.
For one whole chapter (about four days in Amish time), Naomi freaks out that Seth will now need to marry her sister. She asks him. He doesn’t. They hold hands and BAM they’re engaged. Which is convenient because Seth has no money or land, but Naomi does. And he’s young and (probably) hot.
You go Naomi.
The book perhaps could have ended there, 50% of the way through.
After that it’s just paperwork, which I suppose reinforces the business-minded-ness of our heroine. You know, how many kids (heaps), if they will support the widowed sister (hmmm … yes), if Daddy/Daed is cool with the arrangement (he is and even gives Seth a barn and some horses to prove it), If Daed will mind that Seth drove Naomi home (he does actually), if Naomi will still be allowed to sell cakes as a married woman (maybe until the first child is born, after that whatever God wants), how Seth can pay for his farm (turns out Naomi has a bit of dosh saved from her cake stall, which totally changes the game for her, permission-to-work-wise).
There is the very small question of if they will be able to fall in love. Naomi thinks she could, Seth reckons he’s “already half way there”. Fair enough: Amish marriages are more of a business deal. I appreciate that. But WHY call this book a romance? Why not call it an Amish Business novel? Or an Amish Marriage of Convenience novel? Or even – at a stretch – Amish Feminist novel? Or just an Amish novel?
I guess, unlike Naomi, I cannot have it all.
• Rumspringa is a really fun word to say, especially if you roll the ‘rrr’ and choose the “Rumshpringa” spelling option.
• Not once did this book mention Rumspringa, for which I am disappointed.
• Reading this made me want to eat cake.
• The Amish plant celery in preparation for a wedding feast.
• A skim through the bizarrely positive reviews tells me Christians craving a simple life really dig Amish fiction. This does not discount the Rumspringans.
• “Is it so wrong to want to marry a man who will see the value of my work and encourage me to continue to use the skills that God has blessed me with?” NO NAOMI IT IS NOT.
• “A man this strong and flexible would make a good husband.” Seth can only be hot.
Also – downloading an Amish book, targeting Amish people (?), onto my kindle, using wifi, as it was charging. Yeah. It’s the little things.
(Image taken from amazon.com)