Cass's Reviews > Living The Good Life: How One Family Changed Their World From Their Own Backyard

Living The Good Life by Linda Cockburn
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's review
Jun 29, 2011

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bookshelves: 2011, non-fiction, recommended-by-friends
Read in June, 2011

A family of three (Mum, Dad and son) document living for six months without spending any money. The father continues to work, riding his boke to work each day. The mother runs the house and the garden and ends up homeschooling her son. They bartered excess produce in return for some grocery items and animal feed and they occasional found themselves having to buy something (a new laptop on one occasion, fish and chips on another) but they lived six months without spending a significant amount of money.

I found the book an interesting look into this kind of life. It is not a 'how to' guide as the family had most of the infrastructure in place prior to beginning the challenge. The vegetable garden and livestock were well established, they had a composting toilet and solar power.

The book paints a rather grey picture of the period. There is a huge focus on the difficulties and wishing for things that they have voewed not to have. I have no doubt that this is exactly what it was like for six months, but if it was so bad I do not understand why they continued. What I actually suspect, and this is back up by something the father wrote at the end of the book, is that they had a great deal to enjoy the author, mostly the mother, just fails to relay this to the reader. It is not until the challenge is over and the family splurges that the author finally reflects on how much they enjoyed the challenge.

What I didn't like was the book was really just a blog. Entries were dated and a bit all over the place. It would have benefited from being written as a book rather than daily log entries. It would have benefited from a good editor who encouraged the writer to rewrite the book in a way that is easier to read.

I want to say I feel inspired, and to some extent I am. However the bleak picture painted through the book makes it quite difficult. I am left with images of bizarre food combinations and fussy eaters and very little enjoyment. However there is a lot to be learnt from the book and I would still recommend it as a good read.

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