Monday, October 27, 2008
Beth Wiseman's PLAIN PERFECT
I want to introduce you to an author I've referenced before: Beth Wiseman. Beth's debut book, which released September 9, is Plain Perfect (Daughters of Promise Novel). As you probably guessed by the title, it does belong to the Amish sub-genre. She's published by Thomas Nelson, who doesn't usually sign new authors, but they definitely knew what they were doing by contracting Beth before the manuscript was even completed. Plain Perfect is already in its fourth print run!
Lillian Miller runs away from a life full of mistakes--most committed by following her mother's example--and toward a simpler life with her maternal grandparents. Feeling entitled to her "Amishness" by birth, Lillian throws herself into learning the rules, or Ordnung, of the community. Well, except for wearing that plain old dress and giving up electronic devices. :-)
Before she even meets her grandparents, she bumps into Samuel Stolzfus, the Fabio of Lancaster County. Okay, maybe that's a little exaggeration, but sparks fly between the Amish widower and the naive city girl.
One of Beth's greatest strengths is her humor. It comes across subtly at times, though there is a particular line describing a flatulence problem that made me truly LOL. Yet she deals with hard themes, too. Perhaps the thread that spoke most to me was about relinquishment of control and acceptance of God's will.
One concern I have, not specific to the book, but pertaining to the Amish market, is this: how often will readers allow themselves to be "introduced" to the Amish and their customs? As more and more books release, authors of Amish fiction need to drop us into the story world with less and less explanation.
The reason I bring it up? Beth's storyline is unique, as is her voice. The only time I was not fully engaged was in the beginning because I've read an outsider's first experience with the Amish before. One example? Beverly Lewis's The Redemption of Sarah Cain.
Also, I asked Beth about a scene I felt was "missing," which left a loose end for me. Turns out it was an editorial choice, and Beth plans on putting the Secret Scene on her website for her readers' enjoyment.
If you love Beverly Lewis, you will really enjoy Beth Wiseman's books. Yes, there will be more. If you're unsure if Amish fiction is your thing, buy a copy of Plain Perfect and find out!