About the book:
When her father can no longer provide for his large family, Fanny Price is sent away from her small Amish community in Colorado to live with her aunt’s family in Mount Hope, Ohio. Fanny immediately feels out of place at the Bontrager farm but finds a friend in her aunt’s stepson, Elijah Bontrager.
As time passes, Fanny begins to long for their friendship to blossom into something more, but her hopes are dashed when Elijah starts to court someone else. With her uncle pressuring her to marry a man who can take her off his hands, Fanny must learn to rely on God for her future.
I loved Fanny Price from the beginning. It was difficult to read about a 10-year-old being sent so far away from home to stay with family she’s never met. It was disheartening to see the way she was received by her relatives when she arrived in Holmes County.
It was wonderful to see Fannie become the young woman she became.
The friendship she and Elijah shared was one of mutual respect and trust.
Fannie had grace, humility and compassion. At times she was taken advantage of by family, especially her cousin Miriam, but in her infinite wisdom she allowed that to happen to remove herself from situations she was uncomfortable with.
Mount Hope has an incredible flow that is never disjointed or boring. The characters are integral, although some lacked empathy which gave an authenticity to them.
I love that Sarah doesn’t shy away from the imperfections of humanity which is what made this one my favorite books she’s written so far. The reality of a less than perfect Amish family is much more realistic than they are portrayed in some books. This definitely deserves the 5-star rating that I gave.
I recommend this book to readers of both Amish and Christian fiction. You won’t be disappointed.
I received a copy of this book through Netgalley for an honest opinion which I have given.
About the author
National bestselling author Sarah Price has always respected and honored her ancestors through the exploration and research about her family’s Anabaptist history and their religion. For over twenty-five years, she has been actively involved in an Amish community in Pennsylvania. The author of over thirty novels, Sarah is finally doing what she always wanted to do: write about the religion and culture that she loves so dearly.
An Interview with Sarah
Tell us about your new book, Mount Hope: An Amish Retelling of Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park.
Mount Hope is an adaptation of Jane Austen’s wonderful romance novel, Mansfield Park. The story follows Fanny Price who is born to an impoverished Amish family living in Westcliffe, Colorado. The community is small and the farming lacking in both fertility and futility. Her parents make a hard decision to send her back to Mount Hope, Ohio in order to live with extended family. But, upon arriving at the Bontragers’ farm, Fanny quickly learns that she is an outsider. Her aunt Miriam is oppressed by both her husband, Thomas, and older sister, Naomi, while her two cousins, Miriam and Julia, make their feelings of superiority known immediately. The only friendship she receives is from Elijah, Thomas’s son from a previous marriage.
Fanny grows up as part of the Bontrager household but not part of their family. She knows her place in the family hierarchy and has learned to not challenge it. Meanwhile, her feelings toward Elijah as her one friend, and only champion, begin to shift into a deeper emotion that she fears is not returned.
What were some challenges involved with retelling Jane Austen’s classic books?
One of the books, Persuasion, was not my favorite of Jane Austen’s books. It was hard to write that one for me. However, people who have read the books have said it was their favorite! Go figure.
Otherwise, I did not encounter challenges in adapting the stories to an Amish setting. Jane Austen wrote amazing romances novels that, despite being 200 years old, transcend time and location.
One thing that I noticed was that writing the six adaptations took my writing to a new level. I can see that in my current works-in-progress.
Which character from Mount Hope do you relate to most?
Ha ha ha. There is only one truly good character in the book so I have to say Fanny Price! Her two half-cousins are horrible girls…selfish, lazy, and focused on material gain. Thomas, her uncle, is pretentious. Her aunt Naomi is a bossy bully. The list goes on and on. Even Elijah gets swept away by Mary, focusing on her pretty face instead of her lack of substance.
So unless I want to admit to being selfish, lazy, materialistic, pretentious, bossy, and superficial, I have to say Fanny Price. 😉
For over thirty years you have been active in Amish communities. Can you share some of the lessons you have taken away from the friendships you have made?
The number one lesson that I have learned is that no Amish community, family, or person is the same as another. The Amish fiction books tend to make the people seems so one dimensional. But they are very multifaceted. The more I learn about the Amish, the more I realize that they are not so different from us at all.
I’ve also learned that a farmer’s wife lives a very hard life. They do not have a lot of time for themselves and they work just as hard, if not harder, than the men. Amish fiction books tend to romanticize life on a farm. But it’s not all warm sunshine and fruitful gardens, especially when the children are younger.
How much of the Amish culture and way of life do you apply in your daily life?
Not as much as I should. I don’t really watch television and I like to garden (when it’s not 110 degrees outside). I’m home schooling my daughter because I’m not a big fan of the public school system these days. And I tend to keep to myself, focusing on my family rather than climbing social ladders.
My husband works in the equestrian training business so we have three farms and over 100 horses. I could live on a farm and we are contemplating selling our house to move onto a 13-acre equestrian property. In the meantime, sometimes I like to go to our one farm which is rather isolated and get away from the modern world.
Here’s a fun fact for your readers: I have an Amish buggy. When it’s not so hot out, I drive it around my town. That raises some eyebrows, for sure and certain!
Mount Hope is an actual town in Ohio. Have you visited there?
I have! It’s an adorable town near Sugarcreek and Berlin, Ohio. It’s very different than the Amish communities in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania or Nappanee, Indiana or even Westcliffe, Colorado which appears in this book, too.
I believe that is one thing that readers don’t realize. The Amish are real people. There are good Amish people and there are not so good Amish people. Just because they live a pious life doesn’t mean that they are perfect. In my book, Mount Hope, readers will meet several Amish folk who are not the stereotypical Amish characters in popular fiction. But they are real people, just like the ones I’ve meet in the different Amish communities around the country.
You stay connected with your readers on a daily basis by live streaming on Facebook. Why is it important for you to do so?
I started doing live streams on August 14, 2015. Over the past year, the daily live streams have become a part of my life. I wanted to be more than just an author who simply posts “BUY MY BOOK!” memes on social media. In the 21st century, we have more access to information and communication via social media. In general, I really like people. Just because I’ve written 40+ books doesn’t make me superior to anyone else. I really don’t care for “famous” people who behave like that.
Hey, I’m a person, just like everyone else. And the people who view my video each morning, sharing a cup of coffee with me, well…they aren’t just readers. They are friends. I’m the luckiest person in the world to have so many amazing friends on Facebook and Instagram!
Thanks for joining us Sarah! Anything else you would like to share?
GIVEAWAY: A PRINT COPY OF THE MATCHMAKER
To enter the giveaway, leave a comment on this blog with your favorite Sarah Price book or series using your email address so that we can contact you if you are the winner. A winner will be chosen on August 30th.