Grady's Reviews > The Bucolic Plague: How Two Manhattanites Became Gentlemen Farmers: An Unconventional Memoir

The Bucolic Plague by Josh Kilmer-Purcell
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's review
Aug 10, 2010

it was amazing

One of the Year's Best Books

What more can be said about THE BUCOLIC PLAGUE that has already been so well stated by all reviewers? Josh Kilmer-Purcell is not only a gifted writer, able to blend beautiful prose with microscopically descriptive situations - both of high comedy and of sensitive insight into the many facets of relationships among human beings (and humans with animals!) - but he is more. He is able to look at the world in which we live from so many vantages that this book could easily be a study of the NOW in the history of the world!

The topic of Kilmer-Purcell's memoir is one of high romance, not in the physical sense of the term (though underlying much of his writing is as fine a description of the many secrets of what makes a relationship tick), but in the Big Dream sense. As an ad executive he and his significant other, partner Brent Ridge who is a physician now part of the Martha Stewart television family, have been together for 9 years, living the life of overworked Manhattanites, but spending enough time to take annual autumn apple picking journeys outside of the city. During one of these adventures in autumn bliss they come across rundown Sharon Springs and discover Beekman Mansion, a grand old 200 year old home on a farm - in need of repair, but for sale. Of course they fall in love with the village and the mansion and the farm and decide to enhance their lives by buying the quaint bit of nostalgia. They work weekdays in the city, but spend every spare moment of the weekends to restore the farm, the gardens, the trees, the accompanying goats, and their fellow farmer John. The work is intense but exceptionally fulfilling - until an idea they share (making soap out of goat's milk) catches on, especially with Brent's connection on the Martha Stewart show. The farm and mansion become an internet sales success, but amidst the glories they have wrought by following their dreams, Josh and Brent have communication problems exacerbated by the dip in the economy and the concurrent loss of heir jobs. But as the future looks dim the light of friendship and camaraderie of their new home village overcomes a lot and they get a keener view of the value of 'things' versus 'home'.

This book is brimming over with hilarious incidents exceptionally well told by the witty and wise Josh Kilmer-Purcell: some moments with the goats, with New York Times reporters, with the zombie flies, the fellows' first observation of the birth of triplet goats, the preparations of canning, gardening, and party planning are bound to stay in the readers memory long after the book is finished. This is a dazzling bit of writing and a heart-warming story with just exactly the right balance of wit, sarcasm, and warmth that should make it appeal to everyone who's ever pondered a dream. Bravo!

Grady Harp
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Blair If I could give this more than five stars, I would. My husband and I both devoured this book, his others and can't wait for more.

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