Beth'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
Nov 26, 2010

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bookshelves: memoir, farming
Read in November, 2010

Josh and Brent already have very busy lives in NYC when they stumble upon a renovated historic mansion with 60 acres and a big red barn in apple-picking country that just happens to be for sale. Instead of "dropping everything and starting over" as you might expect from the book's byline, they continue their demanding jobs as an advertising agent and doctor on Martha Stewart Living, respectively, and drive over 3 hours to work their "farm" on the weekends. The description of the house, the grounds, local characters, dead flies, and three baby goats dropping out of their Nubian mama are rich and pretty funny. The essential ghost town of Sharon Springs sounds like the kind of place I would love to explore and I can relate to Josh's passion to get into the dirt and make things grow. But I found myself getting depressed as they continued to commute back and force, predictably spreading themselves too thin and letting the stress almost destroy their relationship. This is also the kind of memoir that leaves huge gaps in sequence; they go from tilling up a garden bed to serving a completely Beekman Farm grown Thanksgiving dinner that would rival Martha Stewart's. I'm assuming that they ended up OK since I discovered on their website that they have a show on Planet Green called The Beekman Boys but the book chooses to sum everything up in the Epilogue, leaving me to feel like their farm is actually over. The book started out as a really fun memoir and kind of lost it's way for me as their working world fell apart with the recession and the writer seems to try to fit his themes with their reality TV show they are promoting. Josh reflects on many things like aging and relationships, but surprisingly there does not seem to be any realization that the tough financial years could be the best thing that ever happened to them. I guess what really left me feeling unsatisfied was that these guys don't share much of what they have learned about "life" at all and you would think this experience would cause some major life reflection besides wanting to work on this farm. I really want to read that you can have this bucolic life without selling your soul to the workaholic devil. It's a quick read with a really nice Good Thing tip of making a candle votive out of an orange.

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