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Mud Season: How One Woman's Dream of Moving to Vermont, Raising Children, Chickens and Sheep, and Running the Old Country Store Pretty Much Led to One Calamity After Another
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Mud Season: How One Woman's Dream of Moving to Vermont, Raising Children, Chickens and Sheep, and Running the Old Country Store Pretty Much Led to One Calamity After Another

3.11  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,061 Ratings  ·  251 Reviews
In self-deprecating and hilarious fashion, Mud Season chronicles Stimson's transition from city life to rickety Vermont farmhouse. When she decides she wants to own and operate the old-fashioned village store in idyllic Dorset, pop. 2,036, one of the oldest continually operating country stores in the country, she learns the hard way that "improvements" are not always welco ...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published October 7th 2013 by Countryman Press (first published September 30th 2013)
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Randal White
Dec 04, 2013 Randal White rated it did not like it
I really wanted to like this book. In fact, I have to admit that it started well. But by the end of it, I found I had a visceral distaste of the author. Entitled, snobbish, holier-than-thou; those are just a few words to describe her. How anyone who claims to be an expert business person can make so many ill-advised, nay, stupid, decisions is beyond me. The woman is clueless! In her defense, maybe she doesn't realize how bad her decisions are, because before they play out, she abandons the situa ...more
Oct 27, 2013 Diane rated it liked it
Shelves: memoirs, humorous
This is a fun and light memoir about a family who moved from St. Louis to Vermont because they wanted to live someplace beautiful and rustic. Ellen Stimson and her husband liked to vacation in New England, so why not live there? They bought an old house that needed lots of remodeling, a historic country store, and along the way they picked up some chickens and sheep.

After living in a big city, Ellen had trouble adapting to a town where you sometimes saw bears walk out of the woods and frequentl
Dec 23, 2013 Kathryn rated it did not like it
Mud Season is a particularly bad book in so many ways. The author is supposedly, by her own admission at least, an accomplished business person who knows how to start and grow enterprises and make money selling them. How that is true, based upon her admittedly well-embellished memoir, is an opinion apparently only she holds. There was nothing wrong with her desire to move the family to a small bucolic Vermont town from the busy city/suburbs of St. Louis but there were more wrongs than I want to ...more
Sep 03, 2013 Casey rated it liked it
The writing in this book is light and funny. But I found the author a bit overconfident in describing a series or reckless and rash choices. It takes a certain kind of privilege to be able to buy a home and a business at the same time, then completely blow your budget (without regard) and then write a book about how funny debt it. I had a hard time getting around the white, wealthy privilege showing up in this book. From a social justice lens there is something off about celebrating a simpler li ...more
Laura Ramos
Mar 17, 2014 Laura Ramos rated it did not like it
Hated it! Yup, that's right. This book is one sad pathetic story of a privileged woman who moves her family to rural Vermont and decides to buy the local general store, which she then runs into the ground with ridiculous ease all while managing to make everyone in town loath her. At the end of the first chapter I couldn't stand her and feel for the locals who, I mean who "accidentally" dyes the local pond red, calls 911 because there are cows in the road, . Her failure could have been spun into ...more
Marcie Lovett
Aug 12, 2013 Marcie Lovett rated it it was ok
This is a mildly amusing story about a family who makes a big change. It would have been more amusing if Ellen Stimson hadn't tried so hard. The technique of using footnotes instead of parentheses got old very fast. I read an advanced reading copy, so maybe that will be changed by the time the book makes it to print.

Ellen Stimson appears to have a rampant case of ADHD. She takes things on without thinking them through, then is amazed at the fallout from the choices she's made. There are some go
Jun 11, 2013 Pam rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
I have read lots of memoir/adventure books, and I have to say that Mud Season by Ellen Stimson is my most favorite! I don't know if it's - I would love to move to Vermont and attempt the laid back lifestyle...two - we also made a very bad investment several years ago and watched our dreams crumble...or three - she is incredibly entertaining. I think it's all three!

There are a lot of get back to the land, homesteading, simpler life books out there. It is the new thing. What I love a
Oct 13, 2013 Erica rated it it was ok
I was really excited to get my hands on this book. I was very much hoping it would be in the vein of The Dirty Life: On Farming, Food, and Love. It's a different beast entirely. It's meant to be a breezy, chatty collection of anecdotes about making a major life change. The family decides to start the next phase of their life in a small town in Vermont, apparently without giving any serious thought to what this entails.... for the family, or for the town. Though many of the anecdotes Stimson shar ...more
Jun 04, 2013 Baye rated it it was ok
Can a book be too funny? Turns out it can. The tongue-in-cheek humor never ends. It truly does appear that calamity follows calamity unceasingly.

At some point, though, it became almost painful to read as the couple continue to take on things they do not have the money, time, or knowledge to handle. I reached a point of actively disliking the woman for selfishly dragging the family down the path of bankruptcy. For me, it ceases to be funny no matter how much you try to coat it with humor.

The au
Peggy Iglinski
Jan 10, 2014 Peggy Iglinski rated it really liked it
I personally know and love Ellen and so loved reading her story. You see one of the most endearing qualities about folks who choose to make Vermont home is that rarely will you ever hear them complain. So...although I know Ellen and her family, I had never actually heard their story. Being a Vermont transplant myself, this book made me smile, a lot, and then, because I could relate, it practically brought me to tears a time or two as well. Vermont is a tough place to make a living but is equally ...more
Dec 04, 2013 Jessica rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I feel like I've been a little hard on some of the memoirs I'm reading these days but I guess if you're going to put yourself out there, you'd better have a thick skin.

This one is actually okay - cutesy and has an overwhelming "I'm-poking-fun-at-myself" vibe. I enjoyed the animal forays quite a bit.

But...(I don't think this is a spoiler?)

If you are going to bitch about how much money you are losing on your business and how you are going to have to declare bankruptcy and lose your house and bla
Jan 09, 2014 Allie rated it really liked it
Shelves: comfort-books, travel
It took a little while to grow on me, but I really liked this book. It was funny, charming and did a wonderful job of painting a picture of the author's life in Vermont - both good and bad. I especially enjoyed the sections about the quaint country store, raising sheep (she described one lamb as "joy in a wool suit") and the author's many gaffes (the funniest of which happens while she's cleaning a chicken coop.) Her descriptions of the beauty of Vermont made me want to visit (but maybe not live ...more
Jamie Dacyczyn
May 27, 2014 Jamie Dacyczyn rated it did not like it
Did not finish. I really tried, because I thought it looked great because the tagline on the cover was so promising: "How One Woman's Dream of Moving to Vermont, Raising Children, Chickens and Sheep, and Running the Old Country Store Pretty Much Led to One Calamity After Another."

But then....nope. Firstly, the writing was not the best. It reads like a first draft of a book, or more like a blog. Or, like this review...just a running stream of thought with poorly constructed sentences and no edito
May 07, 2014 Karoline rated it did not like it
There were definitely a couple of funny moments, but I honestly couldn't stand this woman. As a person who is well-versed in Vermont culture and have married into a 200+ year Vermont-residing family, I can honestly say it is simply by sheer virtue of the good-natured-ness of Vermonters that the locals did not just carry her to the NY border and kick her and her family out. What I think a lot of flatlanders seem to fail to grasp is that you cannot come into an old VT town, change all of the tradi ...more
Deb Buckhout
Dec 04, 2013 Deb Buckhout rated it did not like it
I was very excited to have won this book from Good Reads. I had recently moved to Upstate NY, and spent a good amount of time in VT this summer and loved it! The book began interestingly enough. The author's candid self-deprecating style is engaging, interesting, and felt promising. The story moves along at a good pace. The family moves there, finds a house and General Store - but then it gets squirrel-ly. She describes doing things - hiring out-of-state contractors, completely and radically cha ...more
Lisa Kearns
Oct 02, 2013 Lisa Kearns rated it liked it
Ellen Stimson's new book, Mud Season, is an entertaining yet puzzling story of her family's move from St. Louis to Vermont. With our family having uprooted and moved many times, I could relate immediately to the humor and disaster of packing up a lifetime of belonging and trying to recreate a home and fit in in a new place.

Ellen and her husband buy a charming old house and then the town's general store, and revel in the beauty and quaint small-town charm of their new surroundings. They realize a
Feb 26, 2014 Lea rated it liked it
Very sweet, low key story about the author's (mis) adventures living in Vermont. Stimson writes in an engaging, folksy style, just as if you were listening to her talk rather than reading -- it makes for a fun, fast read.

I will admit that the ending left me feeling a bit blue -- the author is honest about the difficulties they had integrating into their new life, as well as her part in creating many of those difficulties, but I was still hoping they would find a way to make it all work out. To
Frances Strasbourg
Jun 10, 2013 Frances Strasbourg rated it it was amazing
I received this galley highly recommended last week at BEA and read it on the flight home. I was afraid I was going to be barred from my connecting flight in Chicago because I was laughing so uncontrollably that I must have appeared insane or at least too inebriated to travel. (I wasn't drinking). When it wasn't drop-dead funny, however, this story of family and friends and the things that really matter in life touched me on many emotional levels. There is much to learn from and ponder in this w ...more
Dec 18, 2013 Nicole rated it did not like it
Stimson thinks she is just delightful and is only too happy to tell you so. She gushes over being able to sell her business, move her family across the country, and restore her new mansion. Oh, and in order for her and hubby to restore said mansion, they took a year off from their respective jobs. 'Cause everyone can relate to that and wants to read about that. Oh, and Ms. Delightful is a pretty terrible writer, often using the same adjective two sentences in a row. I couldn't push myself to rea ...more
Steaphanie Milner
Jun 10, 2013 Steaphanie Milner rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: any woman and especically to moms
Recommended to Steaphanie by: a bookstore owner friend of mine
Hilarious! Quit your job cash in yur 401 K and move to bucolic Vermont. Then buy an old established business and fail publicly with great humor. Along the way try homeschooling, cooking gourmet meals for the neighbors, gardening, raising chikens and meet the local wildlife---this book will make you laugh with the author who has no idea what she is doing but has lots of fun doing it and telling us all about it. I read parts of it out loud to my husband because I was laughing so hard. Then when th ...more
Oct 01, 2013 Carin rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir, women-authors
I was overjoyed to get this book unexpectedly in the mail, after the publisher saw I had noted it as a book I was eagerly waiting for. As it is not only a memoir (my favorite genre) but a faux-farming memoir (one of my favorite sub-genres), I jumped on it right away. And Ms. Stimson didn't disappoint. It read like Jen Lancaster had moved to the Beekman Mansion of The Bucolic Plague. Ellen and her family of five had lived in and near St. Louis all their lives but traveled extensively. One day, on ...more
Feb 17, 2014 Nancy rated it did not like it
This book was almost painful to read. The excessive use of footnotes, the jokes of the author's ass, and the overall style of writing grated on my nerves.
What put me off to start with was this woman hired and housed her own team of renovators from out of state instead of hiring locals to do the job. It almost serves her right that everyone boycotted her general store. A store that was more focused on almost designer like products instead of stocking the every day necessary "no frills" items. I
Aug 14, 2013 BeckyKay rated it really liked it
This is a great read. The author has a nice conversational style. It's like listening to a story told by a good friend. Even in the midst of a dismal financial situation, the author conveys humor and hope. Her descriptions of events, people and circumstances literally made me laugh out loud. I'm passing this book on to a number of friends. I hope they will enjoy it as much as I did. Oh! And there are recipes in the back! How can you go wrong with that?

(I received this book as part of a goodreads
Ann Kittredge
Apr 16, 2015 Ann Kittredge rated it it was amazing
I luved, luved, luved this book! Of course I too moved to VT 2.5 years ago, love and own Bernese Mtn Dogs and also live in the next town over from Dorset, VT in Manchester. I never experienced any of the things that Ellen did, but certainly could relate and loved every single calamity that she and her family experienced. Some of the innuendoes reminded me of Maine vs. Vermont, nonetheless, extremely funny and wonderful recipes to follow. A must read!

Luv, Luved it!

Tracey Mcintyre
Dec 12, 2013 Tracey Mcintyre rated it it was amazing
Laughed out loud. Based on the reviews here I think the author is soemone you either love or love to hate. She is a strong big character and I loved her. I wish I could sit at her table and swap life stories some snowy afternoon. She is a great storyteller and this is a fast uplifting read
Joan Colby
Dec 18, 2014 Joan Colby rated it really liked it
Stinson’s self-deprecating humor saved Mud Season from being just another naïve city folk move to the country saga. As one prone to Stinson’s confessed fantasies of Life in New Places, I have confronted (and occasionally avoided) a few perils such as the 20-acre ridge in upper Minnesota where the realtor explained how with a little chain-saw effort (cutting down a forest, actually) we could have a nice view of the bay. In addition, all those trees were obviously scratching posts for bears. Or th ...more
What a horrible book! I can honestly say that this is the first time that I read a memoir and was rooting against the author. She is trite and doesn't even seem to comprehend her position of privilege. Others have compared this to the The Bucolic Plague: How Two Manhattanites Became Gentlemen Farmers: An Unconventional Memoir, but they can admit when they've made mistakes. Mrs Stimson is convinced that she holds all the cards even after she is proven wrong again and again. Her characterization o ...more
Sep 01, 2014 Jean rated it liked it
Shelves: book-club
Well,I think it was interesting at the least, a bit weird in spots, and perhaps this was her intent. You follow Ellen and her family from deciding they want to live somewhere really special, someplace they ALL love, and that they all really want to be. It's rather haphazard, their life. I can't make judgement here about that, I've done some things that people most certainly would label unfavorably. Vermont life seems a bit hard, albeit lovely. I get that they love the outdoors, the woods, the tr ...more
Dec 14, 2015 Suzanne rated it liked it
What an annoying book! The author moved to Vermont to get a new life with her husband and children, but freely admits (she's very honest, this is why I give the book 3 stars!) that the rich little town she moves to has pretty much no natives left---people like her have priced them out. Her family proceeds to buy the local general store and immediately run it into the ground, she tries the local school and local church and dismisses them when they are not able to handle such things as her dog bit ...more
May 22, 2014 Kai rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2014-reads
It is rare that a book can inspire such anger and hatred in me that I rant for a solid hour about its problems and classist humor. It's one thing to write a book about your zany adventures in your new home with at least a vague attempt to virtually bow your head at times and admit you were a fool, but in the end no one really got hurt. It's another to write about those same "adventures" when they're destroying the CountryVille town you just moved to and alienating all the locals with the sort of ...more
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Mansfield Public ...: The"Mud Season" review by Sharon Wapen 1 5 Aug 19, 2014 02:35PM  
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Ellen Stimson is a book junkie with an affection for food, politics, and country life. She is raising kids & animals and writing about the whole divine catastrophe from an old farmhouse in Vermont
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