In the chapter called “Amish in Print” in a non-fiction titled The Amish by Donald B. Kraybill states that an Amish romance fiction, aims at Evangelical Christian women, not only provides them with a focus on their personal religious faith reflected by the main characters in the novel, but also brings them “a safe haven free from the wanton sexual encounters of many mainstream romance novels and a reinforcement of the cultural values of sexual fidelity and chastity they cherish”. Those novels are romance-laden but spiritual and wholesome for the readers and are confined and teeming with no more than the indulgence of eye-contact magnetism of the pairs. On The Carousel Painter, although it is not an Amish fiction, it certainly matches the criteria of the statement mentioned above.
The story sets in the 19th century Ohio. A 21-year-old girl named Carrington Brouwer finished study in France, returned to the US and sought a place of abode with her friend’s family Galloway. Since her friend Augusta’s father, Mr. Galloway, owned a carousel factory in Collinsford, Carrie decided to take the liberty of requesting a position of a carousel painter in order to earn living and escape the condescending behaviour from Mrs. Galloway by living in a boardinghouse near the workplace. However in the 19th century, women were rarely seen working in the carousel factory where manual labour is heavily applied, it therefore depended upon how Carries defied the being looked-down-upon attitude from male-dominant workers and their wives and convinced the inherent belief of the factory manager Josef Kaestner in proving herself a competent and reliable entity in the factory rather than an artist.
Apart from the working environment, Carrie also had to deal with a series of unfortunate concatenation surrounding her life in Collinsford; she had to get rid of the Detective’s surmise to validate herself not the culprit in the case of the theft of necklace at Galloway’s place, and to retrieve of her father’s painting later on. Of course, these consecutive omens would inevitably resort herself to appreciate the reading of The Bible with assurance of her faith in God and all that, as well as to seek God for help to fight against her pride and other human deficits.
As a historical fiction, it presents me an interesting knowledge of how carousel horses were made in factory at the time; for example, the legs and tails were carved by journeymen and the body was made with assembly of lumbers which glued tightly together by apprentices; a hole was drilled in the center ensuring the pole was securely placed. The carving of body and the head was carried out by the masters and wood-dowelled together with other parts of the body. At the final process, sanding and primer were applied before doing the fancy painting of the horse. However the only part missing for me is that it does not say much detail of the mass immigration of Germans to Pennsylvania in the 18th to 19th century which I am really interested in learning, and that the fiction obviously emphasizes the sparkle of romance between the main characters and the spiritual conversation with God.
Overall, it is a light read and it really transform me from world of “hyper-modernity” into a setting which is so pure and simple. It is a joyful read, and adds the flavour in reading as a first person narration. But I think I might not read this kind of novel in the nearer future, as it tends towards the young teens, so I am probably too old for that. Totally I have read two Christian novels; next I may get myself Thrills of the Caste by Valerie Weaver-Zercher and start the read!