The Charm Of Choice: Finding Real Love In An Upside-Down World
If Jane Austen’s Lizzy Bennett were to visit Charm, Ohio, she might find life very much as it was during her own time. She might also find love just as confusing as in her up and down relationship with the infamous Mr. Darcy. For Emma Miller, Austen’s number one Amish fan, Lizzy Bennett would be an immediate kindred spirit. In the UP premiere of “Love Finds You in Charm” (Sunday, June 7 at 7 p.m. ET), Emma, like her literary hero, is faced with a decision that could change her life forever. Leaving her family and friends behind in Indiana, Emma begins a journey of self-discovery in Charm that not only leads to love, but a better understanding of who she is and what is truly important.
Before the UP original movie, author Annalisa Daughety brought Emma Miller to life in her book, LOVE FINDS YOU IN CHARM, OHIO. She wanted to create a strong female character looking to find her own way. Being Amish was never a life that felt like home to the spirited young Emma who longs for adventure and a taste of the Englisher lifestyle.
“Because I’m from Arkansas, I didn’t know anything about Amish people,” said Daughety. “I needed to decide if there was anyone in the Amish community I could relate to personally. I listened to a podcast interview with an Amish girl in her 20’s. She was so funny. She talked about how she loved shoes and loved going to Target. She also talked about not being ready to get married and that she didn’t want anyone telling her what to do. I thought, ‘We would be friends if we lived in the same place.’ And I decided to write a story about an Amish girl like that.”
Expected to marry a long-time family friend, Emma’s father sees her struggle and suggests she travel to Charm to help on her cousin’s farm and sort out her feelings. Enter Noah, tall, handsome, Jane Austen-loving Noah, who is everything Amish yet somehow different. And then there’s Andy, the New York food reporter captivated by Emma’s beauty and charm. It’s a love triangle unlike anything currently seen in big-screen love stories.
“Emma is Amish, but she’s also somebody more like me,” continued Daughety. “I wanted a story about a girl who wasn’t the perfect Amish girl. My girl was a rule breaker, because I know they’re out there.”
So for Emma, the Amish life isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. From the outside, she’s living the perfect fairy tale — loved by a good and respectable Amish man, teaching at the local school and keeping up with chores on her family farm. But the constraints of Amish life are becoming too much. She wants to let her hair down, ride in a car and see the ocean. Andy can show her all that and more, but life with him would mean life away from everything that is familiar, including her family. Noah understands her struggles, but encourages her to make her own choice.
Emma’s new-found friend Kelly, an Englisher recovering from her own heartache in the safety of Charm, lets Emma taste a bit of the freedom she longs for. But trying on shoes in the safety of Kelly’s room is quite different from actually going out on a date with Andy. Emma soon learns that what she thought might be love is just a cheap imitation of the real thing; a different definition than the one of respect and admiration she learned from her family.
When asked about how her story differs from the recent focus on what society terms as the “darker side of love and romance,” Daughety commented, “In my characters’ romantic relationships, God is the center. I think that is what sets it apart. When you have that, there is a mutual respect for each other. They share a faith. That makes their relationship automatically different than something defined by the world. It adds a layer of depth. In the love aspect of the story, they are respectful of each other because they have that relationship with God.”
Like real young women, Emma struggles with the excitement of the unknown vs. what she knows is true and good. “Emma is on a journey. It’s not easy for her,” said Daughety. “She’s at a cross-road in her life and we can all relate to that. I think that everybody, no matter where you come from, you’ve stood there. You’ve thought, ‘I can choose this path or this path.’ Emma has to make that choice.”
And making that choice is often difficult in a world that is so upside-down in its definition of love. In regards to choosing, Daughety encourages her readers to live life now and not wait for society’s benchmarks to embrace who they are.
“I didn’t get married until I was 37,” she said. “I dated a lot and I’m glad I waited. I think not settling is really important. A lot of times women get to a certain age and sort of freak out because they haven’t hit the milestones society says they should have. There was a time in my early 20’s, right after college, that my friends would say, ‘Well I’ll just register for that when I get married.’ As if life didn’t start until you got engaged or had kids or whatever. But this is your life. You need to live it.”
“Focus on the things you’re passionate about and that you love,” Daughety continued, “and chances are you’re going to meet somebody who enjoys those same things. He may not seem like your type, but be open minded and live your life. Love will come to you when you least expect it.”
And that’s exactly what happened to Jane Austen’s Lizzy Bennett and Mr. Darcy. As for Emma, perhaps the quiet town of Charm, Ohio will work its magic, and she’ll find the real love and life she was looking for was never very far away.
About the Writer
Patti Richards met her own Mr. Darcy (her husband Gene) in college, where they were friends for years before saying “I do!” In between reading Jane Austen novels and talking to her kids about what real love looks like, Patti is a freelance writer. She and her family live in Farmington Hills, Michigan.
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