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Fifty Acres and a Poodle: a Story of Love, Livestock, and Finding Myself on a Farm

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  1,251 Ratings  ·  220 Reviews
Who hasn't daydreamed about throwing away the old life and starting a new one? Here's a delicious read for anyone who has ever fantasized about chucking it all and moving to the country. With irreverence, punch, and perception, personal essayist Laskas reflects what it's like to follow a dream--as well as to buy a mule--in this charming memoir.
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published October 3rd 2000 by Bantam (first published 2000)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Stephanie A.
Oct 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
At first I wasn't sure I liked the distracted, nervous-chatty writing style, but I very quickly forgot about that because this story is one version of my dream life. Not only did she have her own house by age 26, along with a couple of pets while being a writer by trade, a little more than a decade or so later she was able to buy a hobby farm and make it work despite having no practical experience with rural living, just romanticizing it a lot. This lady is already my hero.

On top of that, I imme
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Terri
Nov 14, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010-books-read
I loved it! It started out with repetitious statements and a little slow so I thought I might not like it. I just finished it last night and I can honestly say, I loved it. It made me laugh out loud (my husband kept asking me "what's so funny?" but somehow the humor gets lost in translation. The characters in this book are so well written that at times I can picture them as my neighbors. I want Billy as a neighbor! LOL. I won't describe the book as the back cover does that well enough--I will on ...more
Susanne
Feb 25, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to like this book more than I did. I understand the genre and the author's journey of self-discovery. The fact that she remade herself, married late, face possible cancer w her almost husband, bought a farm& loved animals beyond reason, seems a beguiling recipe. Regrettably, I found it slow.
Arminzerella
Jeanne Marie Laskas, writer, and city-dweller, caught the farm bug as she approached her 40s. She had no practical farming experience, but the idea of a beautiful view in the country, where she could get back in touch with herself and drop all of the filters she’d been forced to acquire as a result of living in the city, suddenly became irresistible. She and her significant other (Alex) found themselves farm-shopping almost every weekend. They found the perfect place about 45 minutes outside of ...more
Becky
Mar 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Why are there no stars at the top of this review? If there were stars, I would give this endearing book five stars. (Can I give it six or seven?) I laughed out loud many times, and within the same book found myself sobbing for ten minutes straight. I have read Jeanne Marie Laskas's column over the past few years, and I picked up this book not making the connection between author and columnist. The memoir focuses on her decision to move from the South Side of Pittsburgh to a 50-acre farm in Washi ...more
Belinda
Jul 25, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: my girlfriends
Shelves: treasures, braincandy
Just read it. She has a gift with language that's a pleasure to read, expresses things that a lot of us feel, and, well...has a poodle.
Maudeen Wachsmith
I had this book on my TBR pile for the last couple of years and I don't know why I had been putting off reading it. I guess the time was just right and I pulled it out and read it this weekend - finishing the last 25 pages on the patio this evening.


Jeanne Laskas was/is writer in Pittsburgh where she lived on the South Side with her cat, Bob and her dog, Betty. She had a perfectly happy life, with a little garden, friends (aka "The Babes") she enjoyed and an interesting writing job. But she had
...more
Carlie
Mar 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just finished this book in two days straight. Its that good, its that easy to read and its that fun. I loved it. Its the story of a city girl who buys a farm and stumbles all over herself trying to learn to love her man, live the rural life and face the hard facts of life. Totally hilarious, touching, resonating and well written. I tend to think of myself as a person who gets annoyed with stream of consciousness/ rambly style writing but, this author somehow did it in a way that made my brain ZI ...more
Diane
Mar 30, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Diane by: Carlie
I'm on page 100ish... Her writing style is distractingly glib and with a repetitious cadenc, humor sometimes funny sometimes just looking down her nose too much, but the underlying story is a good one. Being a pet lover, I liked the descriptions of the contribution in their lives of the poodle and her cat Bob and Betty her hyper dog. Corny but good stuff!

I finished it on saturday. After about page 180 I liked it a lot more because she turned a corner and became friends with the locals, those re
...more
Pandora
2.5 stars. It's not a bad book and there are parts I really enjoyed but she didn't seem to know what type of book she wanted this to be. By the description you think it will be a fun read about stories of her new farm life. But she rambles and drifts away from the fun this book could be where I found myself scanning until I could get back to the actual farm life.
Lindsey Lewandowski
I read this book in the lunchroom every night for the first week or so of my first "Real-World" newspaper job - and after I finished the book, I wrote the author a thank-you note.

Laskas's writing is just awe-inspiring. You hold this book in your hands, and you're holding What I Want to Do With My Life. Not the own-a-farm thing - that part is, yes, interesting; Laskas and her almost-fiance buy a farm and move out of a city atmosphere together, and the book is about that adjustment and dreams com
...more
Jennifer
May 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Could not put down.

Very real, earthy and soulful. Funny and romantic. The author has a magic touch with wording that makes you feel like you are in your head and that she is in yours. Never read a book like it before. Can't wait to buy more of her books.
Alison
Nov 28, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to love this book, but I was kind of disappointed in how much of the time was NOT on the farm, but thinking about buying a farm, and getting married. I thought it was a good story, and I felt really pulled in by the characters, but I just was hoping for a slightly different angle. Also, I felt like she used the "poodle" in the title to attract a bit of sensationalism and then she spends considerable time talking about how much SHE would never have gotten a poodle herself. And how they g ...more
Missy
Jan 17, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book and it's 2 sequels. This first book takes the Lord's name in vain several (too many) times, but hardly at all in the following books. That's really my only complaint and is the reason I gave it 4 stars instead of 5. These are laugh-out-loud funny at times. If you like "Ask Laskas" in the Reader's Digest, I think you'll like these books. Part of the reason I like them so much is that her writing style and my thinking style are very similar.
Sarah
Feb 07, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoirs
a delightful story of a writer who lives in the city and purchases a farm with her then boyfriend (now husband) who also happens to own a standard poodle.
Debbie Williamson
Nov 10, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, memoir
So so sweet. After all the mess of the week, this was a very lovely escape into love and beauty and farm life.
Heather
May 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a fun read. This memoir reminded me of my family's journey from Southern California to a small town in rural Colorado, with a similar band of friendly neighbors who helped my parents with the adjustment to country life with hunting and fishing trips, a neighbor who plowed the driveway in winter for them without being asked the first several years they lived there. My folks could write their own companion book to this, maybe titled "35 Acres and a Canyon," with their own animal stories o ...more
Mary
Jun 10, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: chick-lit
This was an easy read. It was funny at times and at other times seem to go on and on with the same ideas and cutesiness. Written in the first person did make it more real but I don't really know if this is a straight novel or memoir or what. I do know that it seemed way too long for the story that was told. The author went out of her way to make the country people seem kind but a bit simple minded. The pets she has are endearing especially the poodle Marley. The strangest part for me was when he ...more
Kathy
May 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
Jeanne Marie, writer and urban professional, falls in love with Alex, city-dwelling therapist and poodle owner. This memoir describes how, after she shares her longtime dream of living on a farm, Alex supports her to the extent of helping find and buy an idyllic place in PA. Of course, these two are real greenhorns, so their experiences are hilarious. What makes this account different from other similar books is the attitude she and Alex have toward the country people they come to rely on; and h ...more
Willie Latane
Jun 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a delightful read about a career woman who has a comfortable life in the city. She owns a cute little house, a couple of pets and her gentleman friend is there for her but neither are in a hurry to change things. And, then she gets an 'itch' to own a farm!! What follows is sometimes hilarious, entertaining and so true to life when you don't know what you are doing, like cranking an old tractor, clearing land, finding out the 'booms' you are hearing are really hunters and so on. I enjoyed ...more
Saundra H. Gray
Jun 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fifty Acres and a Poodle is the trading title

This charming tale is so much more than just entertainment, it is a glimpse into complex lives of real people whose existence is enriched by the animals they love and the beauty of an environment they are meeting and fighting to comprehend. For any "City Folk" who are contemplating a move to the country this is a Must Read.
Beverly Hollandbeck
Even though this has a frivolous title, and even though it is about a standard poodle serving as a farm dog, the writing is good, and the memoir is deeper than just a storytelling. The author deals with life transitions, relationships, fear, and joy. I enjoyed reading it.
Cindy
Jun 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Remember the tv show Green Acres?

This lighthearted book is a younger woman's version of escaping the confines of her city life, and finding her true self on an old farm. If you want an easy, entertaining, and heart-tickling book to read, this is it!
Brenda Erickson
May 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nice wholesome read

Good book if you want to relax and read a funny, informative, down home story. Has just the right elements of information,drama and humor to make it interesting and enjoyable let. I would recommend this book to young and old.
Deb
Jul 05, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It reminded me of my move from Maryland to Maine. But I was a single mom with an 11 y.o. and a beagle. Because of the familiarity of how different life in a rural area seems to a suburbanite, I could relate and enjoyed it.
Sandy Holmes
May 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Genuine

A very enjoyable, humorous book. As this book portrays, no one leads a perfect, carefree life so the humor is interwoven with some serious situations. Jeanne seems so genuine, someone I would probably like. (Actually Alex too)
Francoise
A light reading after some heavy books. Makes me wonder if I would live on a farm, even a very small one but the views were pulling me. Interesting to see a relationship develop from friendship to something deeper. Loved all the animals.
Amy
Jul 27, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography-memoir
An interesting time passer. As well as the story of buying a farm outside Pittsburgh, some reflections on life's ups and downs, and living with animals. Poignant story of Bob the cat who dies just before the author's wedding.
Kim Hammond-beyer
Jun 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fun read

Well written with a sharp wit and self-awareness/deprecation. Fun read. Hysterical yet has other emotions adding depth. Three more words
Carol Matscherz
May 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Delightful! I enjoyed every moment of this book! I never wanted it to end!
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Jeanne Marie Laskas is an American writer and professor.

From 1994 until 2008 she was a regular, syndicated columnist for The Washington Post Magazine, where her "Significant Others" essays appeared weekly. She has written feature stories for GQ, where she is a correspondent. Formerly a Contributing Editor at Esquire, her stories have appeared in numerous anthologies, including Best American Sports
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“Dreams are matters of the heart, things that pull you along as if they have hooked you someplace deep inside.” 7 likes
“Chaos, I think, is youth. Youth at any age. Because as long as you have chaos, you are free of responsibility. When you are in chaos, when you don't know what's going on, when you're an ignorant dreamer...when you're floating through space like that, you aren't supposed to get anything right, you aren't supposed to make sense, you're supposed to be...amused,,,and aware. It can't go on. Not unless you choose that life. A life of never settling down, never making a claim on who you are, who you love... Once you make those claims you become accountable. You have to get to work...Dreams end. That's one thing I'm discovering.” 6 likes
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