This was pleasant enough... but I wasn't getting anything out of it that I hadn't previously heard/read/known, so I didn't make it far at all before I...moreThis was pleasant enough... but I wasn't getting anything out of it that I hadn't previously heard/read/known, so I didn't make it far at all before I just stopped reading it and eventually had to return it to the library. I thought this was going to be more about Ellen, anyway; not her mother's autobiography and a continuous reassurance of how very accepting and supportive she is of her daughter's sexuality. That's lovely and all, really it is, but I got that from the first 10 pages or so. This book could very easily have been just an article. The ideal audience for this would be parents who aren't accepting and supportive of their gay children, but are they really going to read it? Probably not, unless someone puts a gun to their head. There's not much to learn from this book or really take away from it if you're already someone who's just fine and dandy with homosexuality... This makes it, unfortunately, a bit of a Catch-22.(less)
i'm not going to finish this book - i've read 5 of the essays and i'm a little irritated with the author at this point. i've already noticed some repe...morei'm not going to finish this book - i've read 5 of the essays and i'm a little irritated with the author at this point. i've already noticed some repetition. this is petty, but being from true central/upstate new york, by lake ontario, i'm inclined to take someone less seriously when they refer to orange county, ny as upstate. it's downstate. you're just from the city and forgot about the rest of the state.
anyway, parts of this book have read like an advertisement for this guy's produce and eggs. he spent quite a while detailing how his chickens live and what they eat, and why that makes his chicken eggs so far superior to supermarket eggs. yes, many of us know that free-range eggs are much better than conventional; people knew that long before there was such a thing as a supermarket, so this is not an egg revolution that you've started, mr. stewart.
i think what bothered me the most, though, is the essay about his dogs attacking his chickens. this is indeed unfortunate, it's a loss, and he has tried to train his dogs to leave the birds alone. but dogs have instincts, and perhaps when his chickens began scaling their fence regularly, he should have made it higher, rather than allow it to continue to happen and *hope* the dogs didn't go after the chickens that were now readily available. be that as it may, i found the following passage quite disturbing and i'd like to report this author for animal abuse.
"That night when the dogs came back, I tied them up without uttering a word and did not feed them. The next morning I took the two dead roosters and tied them with baling twine to the dogs' collars. I hit the dogs several times across the head with their dead victims, the blows measured to cause shame and humiliation rather than pain. This punishment was repeated every morning for five days, during which time the dogs remained tied up and on scant rations. By the fifth day, the two roosters, which were still attached to the dogs' collars, were in a state of advanced decay and smelled accordingly. It was an altogether unpleasant affair." (p. 35)
i personally think that is sick and disgusting, and i don't believe i could enjoy the rest of the book because of this. i no longer have any respect for the author as a person, and i don't think i give a rat's behind what he has to say about farming at this point.(less)
while it's mostly well-written, it's a little jumpy and hard to follow chronologically. the author puts different events together in ways that probabl...morewhile it's mostly well-written, it's a little jumpy and hard to follow chronologically. the author puts different events together in ways that probably make sense according to her own emotional connection to the circumstances, but this detracts from the natural flow of time for the reader.
early on, the author awkwardly inserts little statements that aren't exactly foreshadowing, but more like hints about several disasters that will soon befall her husband and herself. it seems like a cheap way to try to keep the reader interested, especially because it doesn't happen naturally.
the third aspect of the author's writing that does not impress me is the constant use of similes. they seem to be her crutch, and there are far too many of them. it seems like an effort to make her writing seem more poetic and meaningful, but i'm not falling for it.
i was not aware, somehow, that this was going to be some sort of christian inspirational book. i almost put the book down during the prologue because of the number of times the author used the word faith and then spoke about divine intervention. she continues, throughout the first part of the book, to inject a little evangelism every now and then, just when i thought i was about to enjoy myself. she seems to have a penchant for leaving the really big decisions in life up to god's will, and attributing any gut feeling she has about anything not to her own intuition, but to god telling her what to do. any time a situation gets a bit much for her, or there is a stumbling block to what she wants, she'd much rather pray to god to fix it for her, instead of pushing up her sleeves and taking care of it herself. this makes me think that not only is she a little too bible-thumping for my taste, she's also a little bit of a pansy. this is further confirmed with her statement regarding the parcel of land she and her husband were looking to buy:
"I had secretly hoped they [the owners] wouldn't sell. It was such a very long way from my manicurist."
if that is sarcasm or some attempt at dry humor, it's the only example of it i've run across so far. any thought that she might have been joking disappeared when the author's friend told her that she had initially wanted to tell the author not to move out to the remote area they had chosen, because she couldn't imagine "...you with your fake nails out there in the sagebrush."
normally, i only enjoy a book if i feel a connection with or at least some sort of positive feelings for the protagonist or the narrator. there have been exceptions, but this really isn't one. the author does become more tolerable towards the end of the book, because her experiences on the homestead inevitably have their effect on her personality. she does eventually give up on having a manicure at all times. all in all, it wasn't a terrible book, but i won't be reading it again or recommending it to anyone.(less)
I have a real problem with this book being called fiction. There is no secret that this is based on her family - she uses pseudonyms for herself and h...moreI have a real problem with this book being called fiction. There is no secret that this is based on her family - she uses pseudonyms for herself and her siblings, barely disguised alterations of their real names. It is clearly a book of stories about her own childhood and about real people, and yet the copyright page flatly denies this.
"This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or used fictitiously and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental."
Pardon me, but that's complete bullshit.
Sometimes this felt more like a list of things the children did than an actual narrative. When there was real narrative, it was less than impressive. At times, it wasn't any better than any elementary school student's "What I Did Last Summer" essay, but occasionally it did rise up into high school or college level writing.
I think maybe I was intended to feel nostalgic at the end of the book, or wistful, or something like that, but this book stirred no emotions within me at all (other than boredom, if that counts).
Just when an event or a character started to become interesting, the author switched to another situation or ended the chapter.
I never felt like I knew who any of the children really were - I felt that they were meant to be the main characters, and yet there was zero development, no insight as to their personalities, not even that of the (sometimes) narrator.
I guess maybe I should have been less optimistic about a book a review from Vogue magazine in bold on the back cover.
Bottom line: disappointing read, not worth the little time and effort spent on it.(less)
It was, essentially, an incessant refrain of "I don't like doing this, why am I doing this? I should leave, but...moreThis book was an onslaught of whining.
It was, essentially, an incessant refrain of "I don't like doing this, why am I doing this? I should leave, but I'm too chicken to leave. This is making me unhappy. I hate this. I'm going to keep doing it anyway."
There were interesting facts about raising sheep and their various quirks, as well as a handful of other animals, which made it readable.
The author was clearly a fish out of water throughout the whole book, going along with her partner's "dream" of owning a farm, reluctant to follow her own desires for fear of trampling those of her partner. Eventually the two women struck a balance, but not until much later than I would have preferred.
Oh, and yes, I noticed that the author and her partner were two women in a romantic relationship. There is no need to point out the fact that you are a lesbian every couple of chapters, Ms. Friend. It's really not a big deal. I got a bit tired of this routine - I'd just be getting interested in the story, the two women would have gone through something particularly dramatic and I would be feeling a bit sympathetic for the both of them, and then the chapter would end with something like, "Then, exhausted, we went to bed...together. In the same bed... because we're lesbians." Yep, I got it, and I don't understand why you're reminding me, because it just doesn't seem that crucial to the story.
Mostly, though, I could not get over the constant complaining. I nearly didn't finish the book due to that irritation. Perhaps I was inspired by the author, struggling on, insisting on continuing to do something I clearly wasn't enjoying, just like her. At least reading a book I didn't like wasn't equivalent to embracing a lifestyle utterly in conflict with my nature... also, I didn't grouse about it once, that is, until I wrote this review (which is more than I can say for Ms. Friend).
There are many, many superior books on amateur farming out there (perhaps even the ones by Noel Perrin), books that are funnier and with more endearing protagonists. I suggest you read those instead.(less)