Despite her efforts not to treat her Amish friend Sarah as an object ofanthropological curiosity, Martha Moore Davis sometimes cannot helpherself. "Sarah goes about living with assurance and peace," Davis writes,"always knowing how to comfort others in the midst of hardship." Wordslike "assurance" and "peace" should put us on guard, for they connote thekind of unmitigated admiration that white yuppies bring to exotic Others.

Davis means well. Doing doctoral research on Amish education in Iowa, shemet Sarah Fisher, an Old Order Amish elementary school teacher. "Did shefeel the unspoken bond between us that I did?" She discovered that Fisherkept a diary; Davis, too, had kept a diary! Fisher was kind enough toshare her diary with Davis, and thus we have this book, which comprisesexcerpts from Fisher's diary, which is really a farmwife's feed calendar,interspersed with Amish recipes, sylvan photographs, and Davis'sreflections.

The book is charming in places. We learn about Amish quilting rituals andagricultural cycles, and if one slogs through diary entries one isrewarded with a good sense of what the Amish quotidian existence must belike. But Davis's commentary tends toward the precious, and she neverfinds the fine line between appreciation and orientalization that betterscholars of diaries, like Laurel Thatcher Ulrich and Nell Irvin Painter,locate so perfectly. She has no negative criticisms of Fisher whatsoever.Davis is neither journalist nor scholar, but unabashed cheerleader.