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Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Book Review: The Lambs: My Father, a Farm, and the Gift of a Flock of Sheep by Carole George

Carole was a bit tired of the legal rat race in Washington DC. She would leaf through the real estate listings, looking at big old farms out in the country (I picture of course the scene in Baby Boom when Diane Keaton does the same thing and ends up moving to Vermont.) She's single and childless, but close to her dad, even though he lives out west. One day, she buys a farm. Then, as she slowly goes about fixing it up and winding down her law firm, she decides to buy some sheep. She ends up with a small flock of Karakul lambs, who she names after historical composers. She doesn't breed them, and of course with only 13, she doesn't get much wool. They're definitely more pets than farm animals. And She adores them. So does her father who comes to visit frequently and for extended periods.

And, as with every single book about animals, they start to age. And they do what every animal in every book about an animal does. Which mirrors also Carole's own ascent into late middle age, and her father's descent in his nineties to the point where he can't come visit anymore as it's too hard for him to travel so far. The sheep (she continues to call them lambs throughout their lives but I'm sorry, I'm not that precious) certainly have distinctive personalities and she even researches the breed extensively and where they are from. Her family is perhaps over-educated, as she and her father wax lyrically about the Caucuses and poetry in a way that would put a lot of college professors to shame. But it's a lovely, lyrical, pastoral memoir of loving animals and being loved by them, and coming to terms with the life expectancy of our loved ones, and therefore of our own.

This book is published by Macmillan, my employer.

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