When the going gets tough, the Amish get going.
Williams’ (The Strawberry Church, 2016, etc.) novel is the lyrical and weirdly believable diary of an Amish farmer named Jacob, documenting the world as seen from his Pennsylvania farm after climate change hits hard and some sort of atmospheric event knocks out the power grid everywhere. The English of the title are what the Amish call everyone outside their order; during a bizarre solar storm, their planes fall from the sky. Then their refrigerators, computers, lights, generators, phones, and everything else stop working. The English are in big trouble. But who knows how to get by without electricity and gasoline? Who has cellars full of preserves and drying rooms full of jerky? The Amish, that’s who. The families of Jacob’s community willingly fill National Guard vehicles with food every week to share with their neighbors in Lancaster, but as people in the cities begin to starve, the situation turns chaotic and violent. Until this catastrophe kicked in, Jacob’s main worry was his daughter Sadie, 14, who has a serious seizure disorder but is renowned for her predictions and clairvoyance. Those visions will come in handy now. He also has an interesting and touching relationship with an English guy named Mike, the distributor who sells his handmade chairs. Mike’s original problems—custody battle, unhappy kids, pregnant girlfriend—are dwarfed by what he faces after the collapse, and Jacob’s comment about him proves prophetic: “The sorrows are planted, and they grow strong in the earth of his life, and they rise up, and there is harvest.”
A standout among post-apocalyptic novels, as simply and perfectly crafted as an Amish quilt.