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 many 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?
Read an excerpt of Home to Woefield. Book clubs looking for a fun read- there's a reading group guide as well.
Have a gander at what others on the TLC book tour thought- stops listed here. Check out Susan's blog. You can find Susan on Twitter as well.
Late breaking news - Susan will be on Blog Talk Radio with Book Club Girl discussing Home to Woefield on Tues. April 5th at 7 pm EST. Here's the link to join in.