Friday, April 1, 2016

Simple Pleasures, by Marianne Jantzi

Have you ever wondered what life is like in an Amish household?  If so, you will be delighted to read Marianne Jantzi's Simple Pleasures: Stories from My Life as an Amish Mother.  Jantzi, the mother of four little ones, has plenty of stories to tell of her life in a Canadian Amish community.  If Jantzi didn't eschew technology, she would be a mommy blogger.  Instead, she writes a column for an Amish magazine, participates in a circular letter with other Amish mothers, and now has collected her stories in this book. 

The most remarkable thing about reading Jantzi's stories is how absolutely normal their family life seems.  Jantzi faces the same day-to-day battles with laundry, kids' messes, and lost shoes that virtually every parent of young children faces.  She also has a catalog of cute stories, mispronounced words, pet adventures, and tender moments which any parent can relate to.  It's only every now and then, when she mentions expanding from a buggy to a carriage to accommodate their growing brood, stabling the horse after a trip to the store, or walking to the community telephone hut to make a phone call, that the distinctiveness of her family's Amish life surfaces.

Simple Pleasures certainly speaks well of the simple life of the Amish, with their close families, connection to nature, and community of faith.  I was left wondering if Jantzi has edited out conflict or darker times.  Her husband is merely a background presence, and most of her narrative is home life while he's away working.  I'm assuming that marriages are more stable and families are more harmonious as compared to typical modern families, but I would also assume that Amish are human and subject to the fall as well.

Jantzi's stories are cute, but the overall book is quite bland.  It has the feel of "a year in the life" of a typical Amish family, giving a window into their lifestyle.  It's just that not much interesting happens at the Jantzi house.  And that, one might argue, is exactly the point.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!

2016 Reading Challenge: A book targeted at the other gender

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