Thursday, March 31, 2011

Book Review: The Bucolic Plague by Josh Kilmer-Purcell


Even though I'm supposed to be cutting back on book purchases, I did restrain myself from this book while it was in hardcover and only bought it in paperback. But as soon as I saw it, I remembered having drooled over it last year in HC! I was just as attracted to it now so I went for it.

And I loved it! Memoirs of course are my thing. And while I do like memoirs about tragedy and difficulties, I like to intersperse them with more light memoirs with humor and less angst. The Bucolic Plague fit that perfectly.

Josh and his partner Brent drive by a mansion/farm in way upstate New York and fall in love with it immediately. They start going out every weekend to their country house, gardening, raising goats, and canning vegetables. But through the influence of Martha Stewart (Brent's boss), their own aspirations, and a slight perfectionist streak, what once was a fun hobby turns into a more-than-full-time job, and very unenjoyable and never-quite-perfect. Their dream starts to rip them apart. Wanting to live in the country full-time and be their own bosses, they start up a website and selling goat's milk soap. Successful from the start, they begin to help revitalizing the whole town, but it is overwhelming, doesn't bring in enough money for them to quit their jobs in New York City, and it gets to be just too much. Then the economy tanks.

Meanwhile, Mr. Kilmer-Purcell is very funny. A former drag queen, he is the "sparkle" in most situations. Their neighbors are fun, open, and accepting. The goats are endearing and adorable. The problems Josh and Brent go through are both relatable by anyone who's ever been in a long-term relationship, and heart-breaking as you really get to feel like Josh and Brent are your friends and you don't want them to break up. Initially it can be a little hard to sympathize with the successful advertising executive and the successful doctor on Martha Stewart's TV show who can afford to buy a million dollar mansion on the spur of the moment, but the economy kicks their feet out from under them just like it has done for so many of us, and they end up treading water to stay afloat too.

This book is perfect for anyone who's ever wanted to escape the rat race and move to the country. It's also perfect for those of us who would never want to do that - but love to hear about it from someone else. Well-written and humorous and escapist and personal, I enjoyed it immensely.

I bought this book at B&N.

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