When a massive solar flare causes a worldwide blackout, an Amish community in rural Pennsylvania is not immediately affected. Their lives, purposefully simple, do not involve a lot of computers or other modern technological conveniences, so the disruption of electronics don’t change their day to day activities. But when the English – their name for those outside the Amish circles – have their lives shattered by this catastrophe, this quiet community can’t stay separate for long.
When the English Fall is told from the perspective of a man named Jacob, in the form of journal entries, written from before this world-shattering event until a few months after. It details the struggles of this peace-loving man, as his desire to keep his family safe contrasts with his deeply-held belief that he needs to help the hurting and act with love to all mankind.
The roving bands of survivalists, so common in other post-apocalyptic stories, are present here too, violently raiding Jacob and his neighbors’ farms for supplies. National Guard forces requisition the food that the community had been saving for the winter, to be used to feed those in nearby cities. English friends arrive, trying to find refuge from the crowded urban sprawl.
At its heart, while this narrative has a post-apocalyptic setting, it is a story about the human condition – about the value of human life, and about the struggle to keep one’s convictions and ideals in the midst of tragic circumstances.