Faithful Pen Pals

The inspirational author Wanda Brunstetter has written a unique Amish fiction series she calls The Friendship Letters.  The characters in this series encounter problems that readers would not imagine occurring in the Amish world.  The characters face alcoholism, major depression, and child abuse.  Ms. Brunstetter personally knows Amish people, and she said on her website that they face the same struggles as everybody else.  The series is entitled The Friendship Letters because the stories focus on three women who correspond with each other through traditional letter writing.  Contrary to what you might think, some Amish people do use cell phones and computers, but generally, their use is kept to the bare minimum in Amish communities. So, the characters in the series rely heavily on the postal service.

Letters of Trust

We meet Eleanor Lapp at the beginning of this series.  Eleanor falls heavily in love with Victor Lapp, who visits her in the Amish community in Indiana.  Eleanor's parents have deep misgivings about Eleanor marrying Victor because he drank alcohol during his reckless teenage years.  They worry even more about Eleanor because she moves with Victor to his Amish community in Pennsylvania after she marries him. The newlyweds are okay at the beginning in spite of the homesickness that Eleanor occasionally feels.  Suddenly, a terrible tragedy occurs, and Vic feels responsible for this tragedy.  The following incidents in the marriage seem to prove that Eleanor's parents have every reason to fear for Eleanor. She writes to her childhood friend Doretta Schwartz, to whom she confides her disturbing secrets. Doretta faithfully guards these secrets and remains a sounding board for Eleanor through the letters. Is Eleanor and Vic's marriage headed for final destruction or can it be saved? See what happens as you read the first book in this series.

Letters of Comfort

Eleanor's friend Doretta is the main character in the second book of this series.  Doretta happily anticipates marrying her childhood sweetheart William. Doretta's world is abruptly torn apart when William is killed in an accident.  Doretta spirals into a crippling depression, and her positive disposition radically changes. Eleanor wishes to be the Rock of Gibraltar to Doretta as Doretta was to her. She faithfully writes to Doretta in spite of the letters remaining unanswered. Warren who is William's identical twin brother also tries to comfort Doretta in spite of his own personal grief. Doretta angrily ignores Eleanor's suggestions until she follows Eleanor's advice of staying busy.  This decision leads to a deep friendship between Doretta and Warren.  Will Doretta eventually love Warren for himself, or will he remain a painful reminder of William? See how the relationship progresses in this second book.

Letters of Wisdom

The final book in this series focuses on Irma Miller who is the mutual friend of Eleanor and Doretta. Irma is briefly mentioned in the previous books when Eleanor and Doretta asked each other through letters if they have heard from Irma lately. Irma is a deeply angry person because she was cruelly abused by her stepfather and resents her mother for not stopping the abuse. Irma thinks she has left behind her past after she marries LaVern and moves to a different Amish community. Irma eventually has three children, and they gradually erode her nerves. LaVern notices some disturbing reactions of Irma to the children.  He makes her promise not to punish the children in anger.  Irma secretly is not confident in keeping this promise, so she confesses her inner struggles to Doretta through letters. How does Doretta advise Irma?  Will she follow this advice or turn into her stepfather?  Read the final book in this series to see what takes place.

Test your Knowledge!

How much do you know about the daily lives of these Amish characters who represent the Amish people that the author knew?  Take this quiz to test yourself.  The answers are listed at the end of this article.

1.The main transportation of the Amish people are various styles of horse drawn buggies.  How are they able to leave their community?

A. They never leave their community.

B. They hire drivers of modern cars.

C. They only visit cities within walking distance.

2. Amish people do not pay income taxes.

A. True

B. False

3. What are the Amish rules on telephone usage?

A. They can use a telephone, but the telephone must be outside their houses. 

B. They are not permitted to use a telephone under any circumstances.

C. They can only use a telephone at a place of business.

4. What is the definition of Rumschpringe?

A. The method of choosing a spiritual leader for the Amish church.

B. An annual bake sale that Amish Communities organize.

C. A chance for Amish teenagers to sow their wild oats.

5. What natural resources or tools do the Amish people use to run their indoor appliances?

A. Solor energy

B. Bottled Gas

C. Generators

Letters of Trust

Letters of Comfort

Letters of Wisdom 

Answers to Quiz

  1. B
  2. B
  3. A
  4. C
  5. B