Prudence Burns, a well-intentioned New Yorker full of back-to-the-land ideals, just inherited Woefield Farm—thirty acres of scrubland, dilapidated buildings, and one half-sheared sheep. But the bank is about to foreclose, so Prudence must turn things around fast! Fortunately she'll have help from Earl, her banjo-playing foreman with a family secret; Seth, the neighbor who hasn't left the house since a high school scandal; and Sara Spratt, an eleven-year-old who's looking for a home for her prize-winning chickens.
Home to Woefield is about learning how to take on a challenge, face your fears, and find friendship in the most unlikely of places.
I was raised in Smithers, BC, Canada and lived there until I moved to Toronto at age 20. I had a brief and unsuccessful career as a fashion design student and, after I worked at a series of low paying jobs, such as server, record store employee, etc., I began a degree in English Literature at University of Toronto, which I finished at the University of British Columbia. After graduating I became an editor at a self-help/how-to book publishing company based in Vancouver. Later, I did a master’s degree in publishing.
When I was a kid I wrote fiction but gave it up for a life of crime. Okay, that’s not true, but I did get seriously sidetracked. That time in my life is the subject of my memoir, "Nice Recovery". When I was twenty, until I got myself together and when I was about 26 I started writing, in the morning before work, first on the bus, then in a coffee shop. This writing became my first novel, "Alice, I Think", which was published by Thistledown Press in 2000.
When I first started writing my intention was to write a book about a teenager who doesn't fit in, but doesn't allow that fact to crush her. The Alice MacLeod series is my homage to oddballs. I wanted to create a character who has the courage and integrity to find her own way and define herself independently of other people. I've always admired people who can do that.
After finishing three books about Alice and her family, I decided that my goal is to write every kind of book I love to read. I’ve always loved horse books. I was a lunatic for horses when I was younger. I owned several horses over the years (for a time when I was quite young I was convinced I was a horse, but let's keep that between us) and I became obsessed with an equestrian sport called dressage. I quit riding when I left home to go to college, but part of me always thought I could have been a "contender". (In retrospect, I'm not sure why I would have thought that.) Anyway, I got a nice pay day when Alice, I Think was made into a TV series, and the first thing I did was rush out a buy a horse and start working on a book about two young dressage riders. The story was initially about two girls, but soon I fell in love with a secondary character, a boy named Alex, and the book became mainly about him. That one is called "Another Kind of Cowboy".
I’m also a maniac for detective novels, which led to "Getting the Girl", a comedy about an inept detective and a high school conspiracy he is determined to stop. Book number six is my memoir. I developed a bit of a substance abuse problem when I was thirteen and I ended up getting clean and sober when I was twenty. Nice Recovery is about that time. The book includes information for people with addiction problems and interviews with amazing young people in recovery. My love for satire and the End Is Nigh novels led me to write "Bright’s Light", which is that rarest of things: a funny dystopian novel about young dunderheads in the last fun place on earth and the alien who wants to save them.
"Home to Woefield", as it’s known in the U.S. and "The Woefield Poultry Collective" as it’s known in Canada, is a comedy about a young woman from Brooklyn who inherits a derelict farm on Vancouver Island. It’s the first of my novels published specifically for adults, though I’d say at least half the readers of my other books have been adults. I hope all my readers will like it. (It does contain quite a bit of swearing. Just be forewarned!) I’ve always wanted to be self-sustaining and able to grow my own food. All I lack is land and skill. The sequel, "Republic of Dirt", is scheduled to be published January 2015 by HarperCollins.
My next teen novel is called "The Truth Commission". It will be published March 2015 by Penguin Canada and Viking U.S. The story is about a group of teens who attend an art high school who start a truth-telling club with consequences both dire and funny.
This book was so amazing. I read it on a flight and was still reading it in baggage claim as I waited for my luggage. I couldn't put it down. Just a gentle, funny read about a girl who inherits the world's worst farm and is determined to make it work, even though you (the reader) are like, "It's never going to work, lady. Give up." I'm so glad she didn't! I found myself rooting for these crazy characters. I wish they'd make a movie or TV show of this book. If Woefield were a real place, I'd pay money to stay there, just to hang out with these characters some more. I'm not even going to mention the hot veterinarian.
I first learned about the Woefield novels from Casey (the Canadian Lesbrarian) when she talked about the sequel on Episode 110 of the Reading Envy Podcast. Set on Vancouver Island (Canada), this book features a memorable set of characters trying to sort out life on a run-down inherited farm. I laughed a lot, especially about the sheep.
Apparently the Canadian title is "The Woefield Poultry Collective" (thanks Lindy) which I find much more appropriate and charming for it's almost-hipster new-farmer vibe.
I read this in one go; your mileage may vary. I'm taking the sequel with me to Vancouver Island!
What this book fails to mention is that it is HILARIOUS. I laughed out loud so many times. The book alternates between different character's point of views and I felt that the author captured each of their personalities absolutely perfectly. It's a real skill to change how you write so it sounds like four completely different people. It almost feels like four different people were in charge of writing chapters and then have it all come together- the author is really that good. Here are a few excerpts I loved:
(from Seth): My aunt Elsie, a bigger lady, tried out a stick couch my Mom made and the thing collapsed and she nearly got a splinter in her no-no hole. She was drunk at the time, so she barely noticed, but I was well and truly traumatized. I can still remember her lying in a pile of sticks, giant white underpants showing because her caftan ended up around her waist. That image is seared into my brain.
(from Sara): I think Prudence is one of the busiest people who ever lived. Probably only God and Jesus and the devil are more busy than Prudence.
(from Seth): I'd never really seen a large-scale poultry operation before. Obviously, I'd read about those battery farms or whatever you call them where chickens have to live about 10 to a cage and get their beaks cut off and are massively depressed before they get shipped off to KFC to be turned into family packs and strips. But even that foreshadowing didn't prepare me for the epic filth and stench of a chicken show barn. I can't comprehend how bad an actual factory chicken farm would be. I mean, where none of the poor little bastards have been bathed recently, like all the birds here. These were the finest specimens the chicken world had to offer and they still reeked like a rancid pile of dead dogs on a hot day.
So those are just small snippets of a really fantastic book. I think Sara and Seth were my favorite characters because they were so drastically different but had a commonality in that their families were pretty screwed up. And I could picture little Sara, who joined a pretty cultish sounding church and became so focused on the Rapture and making sure she isn't "left behind" that is was almost kind of funny in a really sad sort of way.
And I have to say... Bertie the sheep?? Oh my god. The mental picture I had of this depressed and neglected sheep, half-sheered with maxi pads on it's feet. Oh Jesus. Seriously. I felt like if this were real I'd buy a "Save A Sheep" campaign shirt. It was just so funny and it really added even more humor to this very entertaining book.
It is so rare to laugh out loud at a book, however much I enjoy it, but I laughed all through this and then read bits of it to my husband, who doesn’t read at all and is usually not a receptive audience, but who was actually encouraging me to keep reading this to him.
Home to Woefield is smart, funny, quirky and completely charming. Each point of view was written with a definite character difference to it - the idealistic Prudence, social misfit Seth, reclusive Earl with a secret, and the adorable Sara, champion hen raiser who has been indoctrinated by her parents into believing that she needs to always be prepared for The Rapture. Her preoccupation with being ‘left behind,’ was sufficiently clever if left simply as a way for coping with her abusive family life. But when her mother deposited her at Prudence’s and she said, “…it sort of seemed like I might have got left behind” it became heartbreaking in the context of her obsession, but then okay, because Sara was okay with it too.
I loved the over-the-top metaphors and analogies, which produced some of the biggest out-loud laughs from me. This is the silliest, most perfectly adorable book, a Summer must read!
I was intrigued by the idea and plot of this book. I thought it showed promise and had wonderful charact6er development. Unfortunately, it took a premature turn for the worse and the storyline “jumped the shark”. Instead of an interesting fun read I found this book to be convoluted, contrived and completely nonsensical. I wish I could have liked it more, I really don't like to write unfavorable reviews but I just couldn't get into this novel...I'm hoping it was just me.
I actually laughed out loud while reading this book. Susan Juby has a way of writing that makes you feel like you are right there with the characters, watching what is going on. One of my favorite scenes is the one where Seth comes upon Earl the foreman, who is trying to turn Bertie the sheep on her back so they can trim her hooves. Earl has her turned halfway over and is holding one of her rear legs, and Bertie is kicking him in the chest with the other leg. Each kick produces an "oof" from Earl, and Bertie is bleating between each kick. Seth comments that it sounds like an Oompah Loompah band. I'm thinking -- (kick) "oof" BAAA, (kick) "oof" BAAA, (kick) "oof" BAAA -- and I'm laughing so hard I'm crying! The book is full of scenes like this, crazy to the reader but seemingly normal and logical to the characters.
I live in a rural community and we depend on the Bookmobile, since the library is another town a good 10 miles away. I recommended it to the librarian who, in turn, recommended it to others. It has become one of the most popular books in town.
My taste runs to books that are "different" and this one certainly meets that criteria!
I'm somewhat shocked The Woefield Poultry Collective hasn't been more widely read and reviewed. It's a perfect "summer" read and what with the early spring and all, why not? It immediately brought to mind the very popular The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society in their common effective use of shifting first person points of view, their "rural" humour (Is that a genre?) but most of all their amazing charm. Susan Juby is able to skip beyond being "clever" to making me laugh--at the absurd, at the real, but best of all, at myself. While her comedy (in both the ha-ha sense and the warm-glow-of-union-and-redemption sense) is an escape from the daily irony of politics and life, Juby manages to sandwich a liberal helping of protein between the foibles and failures of her clowns. The "collective" of misfits, misfortunate, misguided, mismatched, misinformed and misunderstood manage mysteriously to "collectively" muster a modicum of success with the meager means at their disposal. And that is almost a parable of how most of us would like to believe our world might somehow, someday function.
I received this book as an electronic galley from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Previously, I had not been introduced to this author as she focuses on young adult novels, but I am so glad I had the opportunity to read this book.
Woefield Poultry Collective was so entertaining and the characters were quirky, funny and likable. The book centers around a twenty-four year old girl (Prudence) from Brooklyn who inherits her uncle's farm in Canada and dreams of developing a sustainable farm. (What 24-year-old girl from New York City has this dream?) The other primary characters include an old squatter on the uncle's property (Earl), a 21 year-old alcoholic neighbor and heavy metal blogger (Seth), and an eleven year old girl that raises and shows chickens as a hobby (Sara).
The characterization is great. Prudence is a cross between the Energizer Bunny with high ambition and Lucille Ball. Each character could not be more different from the other and yet their chemistry works and makes for great dialogue and narrative. Sure, you have to suspend reality somewhat, but isn't that what entertainment is all about?
The book is told through the perspectives of these four characters, a common trend that was uncommonly well done by Susan Juby. This was an original story that was driven by quirky characters and there were times that I actually laughed out loud. It was a fun ride. If you want to be entertained by a book that isn't formulaic, I would recommend Woefield Poultry Collective.
I'm following a reading theme right now, about women inheriting old houses, and I ran across this brilliant and funny first adult novel, by a young adult author. I enjoyed it immensely, thanks to Susan Juby's wonderful sense of humour. Anyone who has ever visited Vancouver Island has probably run across the typical "island nutter" and this book has numerous examples. She also has a real gift for dialogue, which made the book even funnier. Five stars, well-deserved.
[Note: This book was published in the US under the title Home to Woefield.]
I have just finished reading this book; I read it between yesterday afternoon and this morning and it was just what I needed: fun, funny, endearing, and didn't require a great deal of concentration. (I am such a flake with my reading these days - somehow, being pregnant makes you lazy mentally - or rather you're just too tired to focus on the page.) I'm letting this book jump the reviewing queue (have finally caught up with March books, but still have April and May to do!) so I can submit it for the Canadian Lit Challenge this month.
Prudence Burns is twenty-four and living off a small allowance resulting from the death of her parents when she was a child. She has aspirations for sustainable, organic farming that her small Brooklyn flat can't quite satisfy, so when she hears that her only living relative, Uncle Harold, has died and left her his farm on Vancouver Island, Prudence wastes no time in packing up and moving across the country and into the Canadian west.
The farm is aptly named Woefield, being a measly 30 acre paddock of scrub and rock and one depressed sheep, but Prudence is unfailingly optimistic and full of plans, even though she knows nothing about farming. That's alright though: the property comes with one Earl Clemente, a grouchy old man who lives in a little cabin at the back of the farm. It takes Prudence a while to realise Earl doesn't know much about farming either, and neither did Uncle Harold - the "farm" has never produced anything and Harold's debts are high. Prudence only has a few months to make enough money to meet the mortgage and credit repayments or the bank will foreclose. She'll take any help she can get, too, including that of Seth from across the road.
Having lived like a hermit in his bedroom since a scandal with his high school drama teacher, twenty-one year old Seth spends his time updating his two blogs, a celebrity gossip rag and a heavy-metal blog, neither of which gets much traffic. His mum, who enjoys a good drink quite frequently and spends her time on "crafts" that litter the small house, moves her boyfriend Bobby in in order to kick Seth out. With nowhere else to go, he crosses the road to Woefield and offers work in exchange for board. Not knowing that Seth is easily the laziest and most useless person around, Prudence accepts.
Also joining their small farming operative is eleven-year-old Sara Spratt and her beloved show-worthy chickens (frizzles and white crested non-bearded black Polish). Forced to find a new home for them because her dad doesn't want them around anymore - he's been surly ever since he lost his job due to embezzlement and has to work construction - Sara bosses Earl around until he builds their coop to her exacting specifications.
With barely any soil on the property, and the raised beds of radishes not making much progress, Prudence comes up with a desperate ploy to get the bank to give her more time. With the aid of her increasingly dysfunctional helpers and one very sexy vet, Prudence has one last idea to pull off; if it works, it could save the farm and her dreams of being a environmentally-responsible farmer.
This was such an endearing book, a sort of seachange of the utmost silliness that has a heart of gold. I love books set on farms, the ones with an eclectic cast of characters and funny situations. Having grown up on a sheep farm in Tasmania (we had chickens too, some of them quite funny-looking), I miss it a lot and love the antics of people who know nothing about farming (covering up shearing nicks with maxi pads!). There's just something about farms, or the country, or rural life, that creates such interesting people, ripe for satire - and who enjoy taking the piss out of themselves better than anyone. The writing group in particular made me laugh, and every reference to the food in Bobby's moustache made me want to look away as if it were right in front of me. None of the characters were spared the satiric eye, and there's an element of self-mockery in the way they talk about themselves, though not deliberately.
Each of the four main characters take turns narrating from their own perspective, in their own voice, so you get a fully three-dimensional visual and understanding. Sometimes they share their own version of the same scene, but never in a way that feels repetitive. Mostly, you get to know them from the inside and the outside, and it can be hilarious and sweet how they see each other. I'd be hard-pressed to say who I liked the most, though Sara would probably be it if I had to choose. I also loved seeing the completely disparate foursome draw close together and become a kind of surrogate family.
Each of them, except maybe Prudence, has their own troubles or demons. Seth has the affair with his high school drama teacher which, while that was kept secret, what he did when she broke it off torments him still and keeps him afraid of the public eye and reliant on alcohol. Earl has a secret past and a missing brother that plagues him still; and Sara's parents are clearly in the middle of an unhappy and deeply troubled separation that just hasn't quite happened yet, but gives Sara anxiety pains in her stomach nevertheless.
While their ignorance of farming and livestock sometimes made me cringe, it's mostly amusing and totally believable. Of course they would think that you needed to keep the dirt out of a sheep's shearing cuts (you don't). Of course they would be alarmed at the happy rogering of the rooster with his harem (hens get depressed if they don't have a rooster, or a "performing" rooster, and you can't judge chicken sex by our own standards of foreplay and consent!). I felt pretty bad for poor Bertie the sheep - Earl was right when he said she was depressed and needed other animals around. Sheep love companionship, and it doesn't have to be other sheep, but they do prefer animals, ones they can sleep alongside. Horses, cows, whatever, they're not picky. Harold had got some very dodgy advice from a Kiwi that you should only shear one half of a sheep at a time, leaving Bertie looking very sad indeed.
I would have liked more detail of the setting - never having been to Vancouver Island, I only have the odd photo and off-hand description to go by, but it seems to be a beautiful place that I would like to know more about. I had trouble picturing Woefield in such a setting, though. I could picture it easily as a random paddock back home - there are plenty of rock-filled, scrubby paddocks that are good for little more than brief grazing for sheep. And aside from the absolutely apt description of shopping at Home Depot (the only thing I'd change is that, rather than having the employees run away from you every time you want to ask where something is, in my experience they are extremely patronising because you're female - please, you're barely eighteen with spots and don't know one end of a hammer from the other!), there was little fleshing-out of the town or community. While some of the locals were introduced - and were also ridiculous and hilarious in their own way, or just sad - the setting is clearly focused on Woefield and its unhappy, struggling workers.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It's the perfect thing to tuck into when you want to escape the heavier, more depressing fiction (which, let's face it, Canada has plenty of). It's quirky but is full of "home truths" and redemptive characters without being in any way moralising or corny. If you, like me, enjoyed Cold Comfort Farm, then I think you'll delight in this one.
Normally, I would begin by telling you a bit about the plot and what I though would follow....But - I cannot wait 'til the end of the post to tell you how much I ADORED this book.
Susan Juby is a Canadian author who has previously written award winning young adult novels, but Home to Woefield is her first book written specifically for adults.
Prudence Burns is a young, idealistic New Yorker, determined to do the right thing for the earth - she makes her own bread (even hand milling the ancient grains) recycles everything, shares a car service, buys from local co-ops and even has a worm composter.
"I don't know about you, but for me there came that moment during every visit to the farmers' market when I wanted more. I wanted to be the one standing behind the folding table, a truck of organic produce at my back, displaying my heirloom tomatoes and baby potatoes. I want to be the one handing over glossy sheaves of swiss chard at a reasonable price and talking knowledgeably about my mushroom patch. The one looking cold and somewhat chapped about the face and hands, yet more alive than anyone else in unfashionable rubber boots and dirty pants." Her enthusiasm has not rubbed off on her live in boyfriend Leo. In fact, those worms were the final straw. When she gets a call telling her that she has inherited a farm from her only remaining relative, Great Uncle Harold (whom she's never met) she packs up and moves to Vancouver Island, Canada. She'll be able to make those dreams come true!
Dreams and reality collide when she arrives. Farm is an enthusiastic term for what she finds, and apparently she has inherited a 'negative asset' according to the bank. But our Prue is eternally optimistic...
"The property was spectacular. So rugged and untouched. All that wonderful grass. The beauty of stray stones in a field." "A farm is nothing but limitless potential, waiting to be uncovered." She has also inherited Earl, a sometime handyman who has lived on the property for 35 years. Her planned strawberry social memorial to Uncle Harold introduces her to a few more of the neighbours. Seth from across the way ends up asking if she has a room to rent. His mother wants him out of the house as he's been in hiding since that incident with the drama club, writing celebrity gossip and heavy metal blogs from the confines of his basement bedroom. And he might have a wee bit of a drinking problem. Prudence takes him in in exchange for chore duty. And during that strawberry social she also meets Sara's mother, who asks if she would mind building a coop and housing her daughter's chickens - they just can't keep them in their residential neighbourhood any longer. They'll pay of course - so the answer is yes.
And these are the residents of Woefield Farm. The story is told in chapters from the viewpoint of each of the characters. All four of them leap off the page - each voice is funny, unique and sometimes heartbreaking. Eleven year old Sara especially grabbed me. There are lots of problems at home and she spends more and more time at the farm, trying to live her life according the the guidelines and principles of the Junior Poultry Club - Getting Started, Take Action and Leaders Are Even Tempered.
Prudence is unfailingly optimistic. Her view is sunny when there isn't a ray in sight. Really, she's the kind of person you would love to know and have as a friend. And someone you just can't help cheering for.
Juby is a very funny woman. It takes a lot for me to laugh out loud while reading, but Prudence's forays into Home Depot, and a disastrous attempt at sheep shearing and tmany other scenes had me laughing out loud at work - prompting more than one read aloud session to my co workers.
Four diverse personalities band together to save the farm and in the process - save themselves. Home to Woefield is a hilarious, heartwarming, heartbreaking, heartfelt heck of a read. I was going at breakneck pace and had to put the book down and save the final 50 pages. I just didn't want it to end. Maybe...we'll hear more from the farm in the future? What do you think Susan?
Full review @ Smoke & Mirrors: http://books-n-music.blogspot.com/201.... The only reason this is not getting 5 stars is the fact that it literally took about 75-100 pages for me to become comfortable reading this book. I believe it is definitely my being uncomfortable with totally dysfunctional characters...those who eschew being respectful with themselves and others. I think if I had read this before reading Carbuncle's Smashed, Squashed, Splattered, Chewed, Chunked and Spewed, I could probably have handled it better. That book had few to no redeeming qualities for me, mainly due to the totally dysfunctional cast of characters and their lack of respect overall. The first 75 pages or so of this one seemed to be a much lighter-weight version of that book. :( However, after the first 100 pages, I really was able to get into it. My progress through this read was similar to that of Marie Bostwick's A Single Thread (first in her Cobbled Quilt series), but in the opposite way! With Bostwick, it felt way too "preachy" for me, though I truly loved her writing style, and therefore persevered to read the second installment of that series and have now read all of them and loved each after that first one! (It felt to me as if the other installments were not "preachy" at all.)
I like the way each of these characters remained 'true to themselves' and yet were able to improve themselves to some degree. I could relate to Merle's dropping Pride from the band and the resultant guilt that must have followed for both the remaining brothers. The characters were realistically drawn with all their "good" and "bad" characteristics. And I could certainly appreciate Prudence's eternal optimism and energy! It was her foundation of mutual respect that I appreciated most of all. Would that we could all be more like her!
I definitely plan to read Republic of Dirt: A Return to Woefield Farm, released in February 2015!
This wonderful book brings us to a farm on an island in Canada. The story is told from the interior perspective of four people. Prudence is a 25 year old New Yorker living on a modest income from her parents who dreams of being a sustainable farmer. Her drive to compost, garden, and her earth-friendly behavior leads to one of the funnier breakups I've read.
She inherits a small farm in Canada, a farm that includes Earl, the aging, taciturn, incompentent foreman. Not much farming going on there until Prudence arrives. Across the road lives Seth a 21 year old high school drop-out recluse who spends his day blogging, drinking, and listening to heavy metal. His mother kicks him out and he moves across the road to "work" in exchange for room and board. And then there is Sara, an intense 11 year old that needs a home for her prize chickens and a refuge from her parent's deteriorating marriage.
The four come together in this situation that seems so hopeless. Where Earl and Seth see rock and scrub, Prudence sees the endless (and lucrative) possibilities of sustainable grass farming. Prudence discovers that the pursuit of possiblities somehow communicates as lies and half-truths.
Each chapter invites you into the thoughts of these four characters. It leaves you amazed and full of wonder that people manage to live together, let alone that they become successful at creating home.
Fabulous, well-drawn, authentic characters. Hilarious observations of human beings... I LOVED this book.
I think the best way to describe this book is to call it a 'feel good' book. The basic premise is that a bunch of losers end up in or around a bankrupt, dilapidated farm. Juby alternates between several characters' POVs in a bravura variety of styles varying from an old curmudgeonly banjo player to an 11 year old girl.
The plot relies on some determinedly positive turns and unexplained motivations, but the voices and the incidents are so engaging it doesn't really matter. It kind of reminds me of Harriet Frank Jr's Special Effects in its innate generosity toward the hapless and helpless.
21-year-old drunken metal-head Seth is talking to 11-year-old geeky Sara about her prize chickens, one of whom has begun showing white feathers, which are a disaster for his breed. Seth's solution is to color the feathers with Magic Marker. When Sara thinks that's cheating, Seth says, "There's nothing wrong with assisting nature when it comes to beauty. Just ask anyone working in the porn industry."
"It's cheating," said Sara. "Even if you're selling used stuff."
"Sara, honey. You're referring to pawn. Porn is selling used people . . ."
If that cracks you up the way it did me, then give this one a try.
Prudence has just been dumped over her sustainable growing and lifestyle while living in Brooklyn, NY. As she ponders how she is going to earn money above and beyond her monthly payment from a trust set up by her parents, she receives a letter telling her she has inherited a farm on Vancouver Island. Full of visions of having her own organic, sustainable farm, she sets off. Seth is a 21 year old recluse who has been holed up in his room writing blogs since the ripe old age of 14, Earl, a crusty septuagenarian, is ostensibly the farmhand and Sara is a precocious, organized 11 year old deeply committed to raising show chickens.
These are our 4 POVs, and my but this book can be laugh at loud funny at times. Although the sequel is actually better (I'm now reading it), this is still quite good. It loses points, however, for the foul language of Earl and Seth (probably not too much for many readers, but I figure once or twice per book is ample at the very most) and the middle, while not bad, is a wee bit saggy. Altogether, this is quite strong for Juby's first foray into writing novels for adults rather than y/a.
I adored this book from beginning to end. The characters in this novel are most certainly characters. Prudence, Seth (who makes me laugh out loud), Earl, and young Sara seemingly have nothing in common with each other. Their personalities are so opposite yet they all manage to come together and become friends. Sometimes life gives us what we need at the most random of times and Prudence inheriting this falling down farm was what they all needed.
I loved how each chapter was told from the perspective of one of the four. It kept the book fresh and allowed me to get inside of the head of the characters. I haven't laughed this hard while reading a book in a long time and I was so sad to say good-bye. I wouldn't change a thing. Brilliant!
A very funny read. Most pages gave me a good giggle, and some -- half?? -- gave me a great big laugh out loud. Hubby got sick of listening to me laugh so much and is starting it now just to find out what all the hubub was about.
Highly recommend. I don't think it's easy to write such good comedy-fiction. This is well done.
I don't even know how to begin describing how much I adored this book.
Prudence Burns, a failed writer living in Brooklyn (her young adult novel was poorly received because it was filled with earnest young people talking about global warming) inherits a ramshackle farm in Canada from an uncle she's never met. Arriving there, she meets Earl, the hired man; Seth, a 21-year-old unemployed heavy metal blogger living across the road; and Sara, an 11-year-old poultry aficionado. Each character in turn narrates the story of Prudence's attempts to revive Woefield farm.
First off, the story is hilarious, and each character's take on things is unique and brilliantly narrated. Other authors have attempted alternating narrators, but Susan Juby strikes the perfect tone with each character, their "voices" distinct and vivid. Prudence is an energetic, uber-positive idealist who gives every single person the benefit of the doubt. Earl thinks everyone in the world is crazy. Seth has been locked in his mother's house in his bedroom with Black Sabbath flags for curtains, writing a blog and drinking steadily since a terrible public humiliation incident involving his high school drama teacher, a production of Jesus Christ Superstar and someone's cellphone camera. Sara escapes her family's fighting by visiting her flock of chickens, who are being boarded at Prudence's farm. The four characters, complete misfits from society, form a weird but strong bond over time.
Prudence finds out that it is possible to inherit a negative asset, and has to find a way to bring the farm's accounts current with the bank. Seth jokes that she could turn it into an addictions treatment center, and the rumor takes wing before Prudence can stop it. Someone else decides she will offer writing workshops, which horrifies her because of the poor reviews she received for her one novel. There is a half-shorn sheep on the farm (Uncle Harold, before he died, believed a sheep needed to be shorn in stages, to get accustomed to its haircut) who is suffering from depression, a farmer's market looming wherein Prudence hopes to showcase her many varieties of radishes, and it becomes obvious to everyone but Prudence that she is in over her head.
"Home to Woefield" is a fish-out-of-water story that defies nearly every cliche of the genre: it is truly funny without making the main character look like a complete fool (just a little bit of one), and it is a multiple narrator book that actually goes to the trouble of making each voice unique (as opposed to a Jodi Picoult novel I read where the only way you could tell there was a different narrator was that they changed the FONT. I kid you not. DIFFERENT FONTS).
Memorable Quotes: Seth: "You know how I said my aunt is a bigger lady? Well, my mom's always been the opposite. There's nothing to her. She's basically an angry bit of gristle covered in leathery smoker's skin."
Prudence (speaking about Seth): "When he made it into the house I asked if he wanted some of the salad I'd made for dinner. 'It's been a pretty tough day,' he said. 'No sense making it worse with salad.'"
Earl: "I didn't know whether to sh*t or brush my hair."
There were many times I had to put this book down because I was laughing so hard I cried. Love, love, love this book!
I have nothing negative to say about this book. I absolutely loved it. It was hilarious. I was giggling all through the book. There is lots of swearing - but only from certain characters! That's what I loved about this book, talk about great character development! The whole book is mainly based around 4 people and they all take turns, every chapter in from a different point of view. Each one of these misfits is so different from the next and so unlikely to succeed together, your really find your self rooting for them.
Prudence - 24 yr old NYer, decides she has had enough and wants to move to the country to totally "go green". Her Uncle dies and leaves her his farm in Vancouver (which is not really much of a farm). Unfortunately, she also inherits all the debt that comes with it. She talks a mile a minute, has all these crazy ideas, and will do anything "ANYTHING!!" to save the farm. I loved her!!!!
Earl - Older farm hand (who is not much of a farm hand) is allowed to live his life out on the farm. Want nothing to do with restoring the farm, swears a mile a minute and grumbles all the time, and thinks Prudence is crazy! I loved him!
Seth - 21 yr. old Alcoholic from across the road. He gets kicked out of the house by his mother, goes across the road to the farm and offers to work for room and board (but is not much help). He doesn't like to do much besides drink and complain, and swear. I loved him!
Sara - 11 yr. old girl with a terrible home life brings her chickens to be raised on the farm (they had been evicted from their town home, the chickens). Sara is sweet, smart, and bossy (which is what everyone needs). She is a born again Christian, worries about the Rapture on a daily basis and is always wondering who will be "left behind". Everyone loves Sara. I loved her!
Can these four people pull it together enough to save the farm from being taken by the bank.
Welcome to our 12th and final stop on our Summer Passport adventure: Canada!
Susan Juby is an acclaimed Canadian writer, and The Woefield Poultry Collective lives up to the high bar of excellence that she has put up with her previous novels. A young twenty-something New Yorker named Prudence finds out that she's inherited a farm on Vancouver Island. Embracing her back-to-the-earth tendencies, she packs up and heads to the farm only to find out the bank is on the verge of foreclosing the Woefield Farm. Prudence together with the unlikeliest of friends and companions digs her heels in and becomes determined to save the farm. A fun laugh-out-loud read.
This is a hilarious book about a naive but passionately idealistic 24 year old city girl who inherits a broken down farm. And its' old curmudgeon of a farm hand. And a hard-rocking, blogging, agoraphobic boarder. And a precocious junior chicken farmer. And a traumatized sheep. And a teensy little lie told to a banker. Mix all these things together, add in a sexy vet and a bluegrass festival and you've got one lovely romp of a book that could very well cause spontaneous giggles and sudden guffaws. This is a fun, fun read.
Wonderfully hilarious characters! I really enjoyed this book, and can't wait to see what Ms. Juby writes next. My favorite characters are Earl, a crusty, old man that speaks his mind...cusses alot too! And Seth, who at times, can be annoying, and does use strong lsnguage, but so funny. He's a slightly "skewed" young man, into heavy-metal music, and does alot of complaining. Sara, the youngest, is a force to be reckoned with, but lovable too.
Just as delightful, charming, funny, and poignant as the sequel (which I accidentally read first). It's about a group of misfits who end up forming a found family on a farm on Vancouver Island. Prudence, an eternally optimistic 20-something with back to the land ideals but not much actual knowledge. A grumpy septuagenarian farm hand named Earl who turns out to have a family musical secret. An early 20s kid, Seth, recovering from a humiliating incident at school and struggling with alcoholism. Sara, a quirky, bossy 11-year-old with show chickens and negligent parents.
Juby does a fabulous job with everyone's unique voices. I particularly love Earl, who at one point says "Chubnuts is drunk as a skunk." My dad is not quite as good as him, but Earl reminds me a lot of him.
I found The Woefield Poultry Collective (in Canada) or Home to Woefield (in United States) to be a light and enjoyable read. It’s a quick read and as a minimum is likely to make you smile and provide some chuckles.
The Longer Version
The Woefield Poultry Collective was chosen for a book club selection as a palate cleanser, a lighter read to clear one’s head and emotions after reading another book on a heavier, more difficult topic. Book reviewers made many comments about the humour in the book and how funny it was – some mentioning laugh out loud funny. Because The Woefield Poultry Collective had been nominated for A Stephen Leacock Award, a Canadian literary award for humour, and the author Susan Juby had just won the 2016 Stephen Leacock Award for the book’s sequel called The Republic of Dirt, the book choice seemed to be just what we wanted.
Our book club members’ reviews were mixed. Some loved the book and want to read its sequel. Some found the swearing over done and a bit over the top and didn’t finish the book for this reason; while others thought the book was enjoyable, likeable and an average easy read. My views fall into the last category.
I thought The Woefield Poultry Collective offered a cute story and some humour. I was smiling and chuckling a bit but didn’t really find it laugh out loud funny. I enjoyed the 4 primary characters, all neophytes to farming and trying to make a go of it. 3 of them were sort of misfits, in that they didn’t readily fit into society’s ideas of how children, young men and old men should act. Their leader is a young woman who inherits a worn-out farm. She’s an energetic, eager beaver, tree hugger and environmental idealist with plans to turn the failing farm into a successful but environmentally friendly operation. These 4 characters make for a very eclectic bunch who have different backgrounds and vantage points but over time and through difficult obstacles end up welding with each other as a team. I couldn’t help but root for each of them to succeed as they faced every challenge head on.
Their different voices, personalities and opinions were easy to keep separate in large part due to Juby’s writing and book layout. Each chapter included the narrator’s name in the title and I definitely got a strong sense about each of them from what they had to say or the thoughts they shared. Many different aspects of each of their personalities were revealed so I can’t say that the characters were one-dimensional or under-developed. However, I did find the characters to be very caricaturist i.e. possessing every single characteristic of a person who might be labelled stereotypically just like they were.
I mention this because some readers might be bit put off a bit by a seeming lack of depth. I’m not so sure however, that Juby didn’t do this intentionally. Perhaps caricaturizing is necessary to bring out the humour. Because the caricature personalities encompass all the pre-conceived notions we have about certain people and things, I’m guessing this is why we can relate to the humour when these same characters get involved in certain situations – because we “understand” what they’re about. It seems almost like the predictability is necessary for our understanding and “getting” or “appreciating” the humour.
For a pleasurable, light and humorous read, why not give The Woefield Poultry Collective (Canada) or Home to Woefield (United States) a try.
I actually have no idea what this book is going to be like or about, but one of my college roommates designed the cover and even did the lettering by hand...so I figure I better check it out. :)
Update: okay, MAYBE I give it 2.5 stars. The story is actually kind of charming, but it narrates from the perspective of 4 different characters and 2 of them like to swear...a lot. Which, I'm no major prude, but reading 10 F-words over 3 pages of narration gets to be a little grating. It also kind of never had a major conclusion/resolution, so that was weird. I really enjoyed the narration of 2 characters, so that's why I kept reading...but I probably wouldn't recommend it to anyone else...sorry to my old roommate that she designed an AWESOME cover for a pretty crappy book...
Loved, loved, loved this book with its laugh out loud humour and its lovable, eccentric characters. When a lost but idealistic New Yorker inherits a farm on Vancouver Island, she thinks it's a dream come true. Arriving to find her inheritance near bankruptcy, she sets out to save the farm with the help of her unlikely neighbours: a grumpy septuagenarian, a reclusive alcoholic teen, and an eccentric 11 year old poultry expert.
Juby is a wonderful storyteller; if you enjoyed mood and style of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society , you'll enjoy this book too.