The Quaker Café isn’t a story just about Quakers, although there are characters in the novel who are Quakers. There are also Baptists and Methodists plus an Episcopalian wedding and an Easter Parade. In addition there’s murder and adultery and guilt and a lot of secrets to go around. The Quakers can’t manage it all by themselves.
In the novel the protagonist, Liz Hoole, has married into a weighty Quaker family and slipped off the Presbyterian pedestal to raise her children under the guidance of her husband and in-laws. That’s not bad. Quakers are good people. I should know. I’ve been one for thirty-seven years.
Quakers have been around for a long time and they’re not all dead, as I once heard a teacher say in a classroom. We’re very much alive in a variety of shapes and sizes and religious convictions. We are not Amish or Mennonite nor are we Shakers, who indeed are almost all dead as they discouraged their members from having sex. The Shakers, however, are remembered for a great song, Simple Gifts, which Quakers have adopted.
You may be surprised by some of the people who are Quakers. Of course everyone knows William Penn was a Quaker and Pennsylvania has a strong Quaker heritage, as do North and South Carolina to many people’s surprise. Few still dress like William Penn, though. We blend in pretty well. There are quite a number of peace proponents and civil rights activists along with poets and authors. The poet John Greenleaf Whittier was a Quaker as were Presidents Richard Nixon and Herbert Hoover. Actress Judi Dench is a Quaker, as is actor Ben Kingsley. There are an unusual number of physicists who are Quakers, including my son, but my very favorite of all are the Cadbury brothers…the chocolatiers.