I was sent a review copy of this book , but haven't yet been able to get my hands on it! It was one of the first books my mom picked up to read and she was through with it in a matter of days. Before I could snatch it up, Clay had already adopted it as his evening read. The fact that it's so appealing to both my mom and Clay has bumped it to the top of my must-read list.
We're fans of Eliot Coleman's books (I even reviewed one) and gardening methods, so I've been very curious to read about him from a completely different perspective. From what I've gleaned from my mom, it's not a particularly flattering portrait that his daughter, the author, paints. So much of what we read about the back-to-the-land movement is idyllic, picturesque and idealistic, so I think it will be very interesting to read about it from a different perspective.
I interviewed my mom about her thoughts on the book.
Why couldn't you put the book down?
I just had to know how it was going to turn out; I cared about those characters, they were well-crafted. And I wanted to understand how the little girl in the story became the lovely author on the back cover. I felt like I was watching the whole thing unfold, like I saw the farm and trees and pond... The writing was vivid, but not disctracting; you just got swept up in it. And maybe it's because I've known people like this in my life and it felt familiar.
Which characters did you find most fascinating or intriguing?
Although she covers other characters in more detail and only alludes to the Nerings, because I knew who they were [our friend was friends with them] I was curious about her perspective on them. She gave some interesting glimpses into their character and lives. There was conflict, there were difficulties that I became invested in learning about how they were resolved. There was something voyeuristic about the story because the people were real. And because their lifestyle was so similar to that of friends of mine, and some were even friends of friends, it had a personal weight to it that made me feel very invested in the story.
Any good life lessons from the book?
The characters in the book grew up in affluent circumstances, they became disenchanted with their parents' liefstyles and left it all behind to go off an do this homesteading. The story, more than being a cultural tale, is about the father who is so self-absorbed and perhaps obsessed with his vision that he neglects his wife who checks out emotionally, the children are neglected and there's even a death. If anything it's a cautionary tale about where to devote your energy and a negative example of the importance of directing your energy, emotion and creativity to your family. Overall, it's a good read; there wasn't a boring moment. It didn't get too wordy or drag, it was just right. Perfect for snuggling up on the couch with grandkids on the rug:)
Well, there you have it, two thumbs up, direct from my mom:) If you manage to get your hands on a copy (I'm not having any luck yet!), let me know how it is!