24-year-old Prudence Burns has always dreamed of being a seller instead of just a buyer at the farmer's market. She can picture herself beside a table loaded with farm fresh organic produce she's grown herself feeling finally and fully alive. Unfortunately, Prudence happens to live in an apartment in Brooklyn, and her efforts at being sustainable have chased her boyfriend away and left her wondering just what to do now. Next thing you know, Prudence has inherited her Great-Uncle Harold's farm in Canada and it seems as if her dreams might just come true.
What Prudence finds, though, is a run down farm that hasn't produced anything in years, a house that hasn't known any cleaning, mountains of debt, and a lonely, pathetic half-sheared sheep. All these problems are hardly enough to deter the ever-optimistic Prudence, and she happily sets about making the improvements she imagines will turn Woefield Farm into the profitable sustainable farm of her dreams with the help of her unlikely and unwieldy "staff." Prudence inherits crotchety Earl, the farm foreman who's much better at watching TV and playing the banjo than he is at building or farming, when she inherits the farm. Soon after her arrival, Prudence hires Seth, a reclusive celebrity gossip blogger with some embarrassing secrets and a major drinking problem who's just been kicked out of his parents' house. Last comes too serious eleven-year-old Sara Spratt who needs a home for her prize-winning chickens and a place to get away from her own home life that is rapidly deteriorating.
If you're looking for a serious book on the trials of modern-day farming or the practical aspects of sustainability, look elsewhere. However, if you're looking for a laugh-out-loud funny unexpectedly heartwarming tale of a group of people who come together to save a farm and find a home, that's what you'll find in Home to Woefield. The book unfolds in the four very distinct voices of its four main characters, getting inside each one's bizarre thought patterns and revealing each character for what they see themselves as, as well as how the others perceive them. It's as easy to laugh at as it is to root for these characters as they attempt to shear the other half of the sheep, get Alec Baldwin (the chicken) ready to compete at the county fair, and come up will all sorts of harebrained schemes to hold off creditors until they can figure out how to make the farm profitable. You'll find yourself laughing out loud at Earl's grumpy old man narration or Seth's self-deluded ramblings, but you'll just as easily find yourself feeling for them as they face up to the secrets from the past that dog them.
Though, the story lacks something in believability, it more than makes up for it with its big heart. Ultimately, Home to Woefield is a fun, funny, and refreshing book that never takes itself too seriously yet somehow manages to strike at the heart of how much we all need to find a place where we can be safe and loved for who we are, big messy secrets and all.
Home to Woefield will be in stores on March 8.
(Thanks to Maggie at Harper Paperbacks for sending me a review copy!)