Retired English teacher Janice Dembosky ’64, M’68 has published her first book, The Bond Woman: An Amish Woman in Love with a Man on ‘the Outside.’
Dembosky, who lives with her husband in the Indiana County village of Home has written most of her life. After her retirement from teaching, she began to write with an eye to publishing. After having two nonfiction articles accepted for publication in Mature Years Magazine, she is thrilled that her initial foray into the world of fiction has been met with enthusiasm and positive reviews of her first novel.
The Bond Woman is a modern rendering of the Biblical story of Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar, and it is from Sarah’s words, “Cast out the Bond Woman and her son” that the title is taken.
It is the story of Hannah Miller, an Old Order Amish girl, who begins work as a housekeeper in the home of bachelor-farmer and Englischer, Abram Goodman. She promises her parents that she will not be tempted by the trappings of his modern life. However, two years into her employment, she realizes that it is not the “English” lifestyle which has tempted her, but rather her love and devotion to Abram Goodman himself.
Though Hannah holds her love for Goodman as a secret in her heart, her fantasy world collapses when Goodman takes a wife. Hannah sets out to punish him for the imagined infidelity of which she accuses him. Her actions set forth a ripple effect that touches not just Abram Goodman and his wife but Hannah’s family and others in her Amish community.
The fact that The Bond Woman is set in rural western Pennsylvania against a backdrop of the changing seasons and ingrained customs of the area is a real delight for local readers. So, too, is Dembosky’s talent for the development of the book’s characters and storyline, which she stresses is entirely fictional.
“Though Amish customs have been researched for this project,” Dembosky explains, “the Amish community depicted in this novel is fictitious, an invention of my imagination.”
Throughout her life and career, Dembosky never strayed far from her writing desk, whether at home or during her many travel adventures. She credits her mother for her decision to write The Bond Woman. She explains, “My mother was terminally ill, and she told me that she had always hoped I would publish a book. I began writing chapters for her as I sat with her on weekends. After she died, I put the manuscript away and went about the business of raising my family and teaching. Only when I took creative writing courses did I resurrect the manuscript. I found that many of my mother’s editing suggestions were echoed by my teachers.”
While her mother did not live to see the finished product, she would be proud to know that her daughter’s first novel, which is available in paperback or Kindle edition, on Amazon.com, has earned over 50 five-star reviews from readers of all ages who have praised the unpredictability of the plot line and the realism of the characters that make it hard to put the book down. A common refrain among Dembosky’s fans is, “This would make a good movie!”
Dembosky promises that a sequel to Hannah’s fascinating story is in the works.