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The Chinchilla Farm: A Novel
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The Chinchilla Farm: A Novel

3.43 of 5 stars 3.43  ·  rating details  ·  118 ratings  ·  24 reviews
Verna Flake is fleeing Utah, a failed marriage (her husband has left her for a former beauty queen named Pinky), and the constricted yet reliable Mormon way of life. Seemingly naive but also gifted with an almost second sight for the emotional heart of things, Verna relates her adventures on the road, in Los Angeles, and eventually in Mexico, as she confronts her future an ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published May 17th 2003 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published 1989)
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The Backslider by Levi S. PetersonThe Evening and the Morning by Virginia SorensenThe Chinchilla Farm by Judith FreemanA Short Stay in Hell by Steven L. PeckThe Scholar of Moab by Steven L. Peck
Mormon Literature
3rd out of 84 books — 11 voters
Anna Karenina by Leo TolstoyMadame Bovary by Gustave FlaubertWuthering Heights by Emily BrontëJane Eyre by Charlotte BrontëThe Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Unhappy Marriages
225th out of 280 books — 223 voters

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Community Reviews

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A woman leaves Utah and her marriage for something she hopes will be better. I wanted to like this novel. But I didn't. The description is wonderful but the narrative never held me.
Some might think that my rant about Elna Baker's book means I shouldn't have liked this book either. However, I felt that the character's acknowledgment of her Mormon background but avoidance of hypocrisy by simply stating her distance from that belief system was refreshing. Plus her writing was lovely, both in plot and syntax. I love it when really normal lives make a good book.

I also have read a debate about how it's hard to think there will ever be a great Mormon novel, because most novels o
Elizabeth Olson
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sue Kreiling
Strange and interesting. Deceptively simple and lovely in its way.
This is a very strange book in some ways. It's told mostly in flashback, and it's definitely not a happy book. But it's not depressing either - in fact, I liked it a lot, even though very little that's good happened to the protagonist until the very end. I have to say I was a little bit surprised at the end - it reminded me of the end of "A Version of the Truth," mainly because the protag ends up with someone that the writer hasn't gone out of her way to make us like. But I was happy that Verna ...more
A female on-the-road novel with lapsed Mormon Verna Flake traveling from Utah to LA to Mexico. After her husband leaves her for Pinky, a former beauty queen, Verna hitches up her horse trailer and heads to LA. Along the way she picks up hitchhiker Duluth whom she later rescues from homelessness on the next leg of her journey to Mexico with her brother's widow,escaping from an abusive man. Verna tells her own story in her unique and compelling voice.
I really thought I would be irritated with this book; It turns out that it was interesting and strange at the same time. I found it strange in the sense that hearing about some of our Mormon culture and attitudes from the main character made me want to talk to others, and get a feel about how they felt growing up here in Utah. However, I felt that Verna Flake was,well, kind of a flake.

I adored this book. I'm kind of surprised that I didn't find it depressing, but it's so beautifully written and honest and believable that I was entirely engrossed. I couldn't go to sleep without finishing this book (which explains why I'm writing this review at 2 AM). Wonderful. I'll definitely have to check out the others Ms. Freeman has written.
Diane D.
I was so excited to read this, and I ended up being very disappointed. It would start to get going, and then Verna (the narrator) would flash back in time. To me it was overwritten and nothing really "happens" until the last 10 pages. While Freeman writes beautiful prose, I found the story very flat, and the characters depressing.
Someone in my family got this book as a library discard, and somehow it ended up at my house. So I read it. It was fine. It seemed kind of emotionless and sometimes had excessive descriptions of things or flashback memories that didn't do much to advance or enhance the story. Having said that, it wasn't terrible.
Kind of a rambling tale of a young woman from Utah, raised Mormon, but who seeks out a new life in LA. Not nearly as tightly written as the author's later novel, Red Water. The last section takes place in Baja CA; fun to read descriptions of the various small towns they drive by as I have made that drive myself!
The structure was interesting, with most of the book written in flashback. I'm torn between whether that worked or not. On the one hand the flashbacks are used not just to convey backstory, but as a way to show how memory is intertwined with action. Still, not sure it worked.
It was okay. I was hoping for some more about chinchillas. This guy leaves his wife and she heads to California. She meets some interesting characters and finds some distant relatives. It was kind of interesting, but not exceptional.
My daughter is reading this book right now, and I was reminded how much I liked it. Judith Freeman is one of those authors who doesn't seem to have a LOT of books in her, but the ones she has written are truly lovely.
This was a good book...very different from what I normally choose but I liked it. Interesting excerpts about the Mormon religion scattered along the way which I found intriguing. Good read!
I just came across this book again and remembered how much I liked it. It was one of the first novels I read set in part in Utah,my own country, which might have been why I was so charmed
Oct 03, 2008 Betsey rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Betsey by: King's English Bookstore
I found this book on a list produced by King's English Bookstore as an "easy to read, hard to put down" book. I enjoyed reading the novel.
I just liked the main character. I liked following her narrative and listening to her memories. And I never like characters so there you go.
Don't know if I would recommend. A couple of the characters were relatable. Interesting Mormon information sprinkled throughout.
One I would likely have never read if not for bookgroup. Others liked it more than me - Verna Flake really was kind of a flake:)
Sue Kozlowski
Verna leaves Utah an goes and lives in Los Angeles and then Mexico.
Wonderful, thorough, well written and documented resource.
Reminds me a bit of Barbara Kingslover
Boring, I stopped on page 93.
Kim Fay
Kim Fay marked it as to-read
Sep 22, 2015
Summer marked it as to-read
Sep 21, 2015
Ashley Walton
Ashley Walton is currently reading it
Sep 20, 2015
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