Why set an Amish book in Mississippi? The answer really isn’t because I can. (Well, it could be, but this would be a very short post! lol) The real reason is the differences in communities, and I’m not just talking about the weather variation between Pennsylvania and Mississippi.
To a lot of people, Amish is Amish is Amish. Most everyone who doesn’t live close to an Amish community thinks that all the Amish are the same. The beauty is that they are not. And these differences allow for a variety of stories to be told.
My new Amish romance series is set in the community of Randolph just outside of Pontotoc, Mississippi. It’s the only community in what is considered the Deep South and is a little over an hour from where I was born and raised. There are two other Amish settlements in Tennessee and of course the Beachy Amish in Sarasota. (No, their name has nothing to do with the actual beach. It’s just a fun coincidence.)
Though both the Amish in Lancaster County and in Mississippi are considered to be Old Order, the Mississippi Amish are much more conservative. They are called Swartzentruber Amish.
The dress is plain, but not boring. In Pennsylvania, the women wear a solid colored dress with a full black apron over the top for every day. In Mississippi, we saw purple dresses with green aprons, burgundy dresses with navy blue aprons, and a variety of other mixed colors that I have never seen before in an Amish community.
Buggies are black and have very little reflective tape on the back. There are no slow-moving vehicle signs. There aren’t any phones allowed in the barns and phone shanties are rare. The only one we saw was in the school yard. We asked and were told that if there was an emergency the Amish would go to their nearest English neighbor for help.
But the thing that stood out to us was the color of the houses. Most were white and covered with aluminum siding. The barns were deep red of the same siding. Every yard had a string of gourd martin houses to attract the birds.
Though the Amish in Pontotoc are more reserved and tend to keep to themselves, they do offer products for sale. Nearly every Amish house that we visited had a small shed on their property set up for just this purpose. I found it ironic that I saw no Amish in town, but yet was welcomed onto their property to browse in their tiny shops.
I can’t say that visiting Pontotoc is anything close to a trip to Lancaster, PA. That’s not to say that it’s not a fun adventure. But if small town, northern Mississippi isn’t in your vacation plans, just pick up a copy of A Home for Hannah and let me take you there.
In Pontotoc, Mississippi, the Amish way means a chance to rebuild, renew, and rekindle a love from long ago . . .
Fifteen years. That’s how long it’s been since Hannah McLean set foot in the Amish community where she was raised. Through it all her heart has never forgotten Pontotoc—or Aaron Zook, her first love. Now widowed, and left with little more than her hurting teenager and her prayers, she returns home, even knowing she and her son may be turned away.
When Aaron learns Hannah has returned, he nearly falls to his knees. He’s a strong man, but lately the care of his three motherless children and family land have been more than he can handle. Now providence has delivered the first woman he loved, and with her, the rush of feelings they once shared. But will his simple, removed way of life leave Hannah longing for something more, or can they begin anew, finding a new way forward together?
Praise for Amy Lillard and her Wells Landing novels
“An inspirational story of romance, faith, and trust . . . will appeal to fans of Wanda Brunstetter and Beverly Lewis.” —Library Journal on Caroline’s Secret
“A beautifully written romance with an adoring character. Lillard writes stories readers can relate to.” —RT Book Reviews on Just Plain Sadie