Friday, June 25, 2010

Plain and Simple

I found Sue Bender's Plain and Simple: A Journey to the Amish, at a used book store. The book was published in 1998 but can still be found on Amazon. The author seems to have been a very typical uncertain, harried, ambitious, dissatisfied 40-something. She fell in love with traditional Amish quilts at a show and managed, with some difficulty, to be invited to live with an Amish family in Iowa one summer. They were quite strict people but good and admirable. She struggled to understand them. She went home and seemed to be stumped about what she had experienced. A few years later, that experience having grown a part of her, she managed to be invited to stay with another family, this time in Ohio. This family were dedicate Amish but not so strict. She found a spirit of fun and lightness in this family she had not found in the previous stay. And the women were much stronger personalities -- she was far more comfortable with this family.

She left and wrote the book. Her descriptions of the families is well done and interesting. At the end she tells us a list of truths she has learned. I am not at all sure she learned them, they seem too facile and she has given us almost no real insight into her own life and the impact except that she learned to make bread. She has a husband and at least one child [grown] but never reveals enough to make us care at all about her search or her "discoveries." She offers no understanding of Amish quilting, in fact, is not very interested except for purchasing cottons in "Amish" colors and playing with squares that she doesn't even know how to sew together. I very much mistrust people who use exotic others to learn "truths" but who seem unable to be self-reflective.

1 comment :

sada said...
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