In The Woefield Poultry Collective, Prudence Burns is a city girl who inherits Woefield farm, which consists of thirty acres of rock-strewn land, many buildings in disrepair, one old slightly-useless handyman and one pathetic sheep. She knows nothing about farming, but since the bank is about to foreclose, she has to learn how to make a fast buck. She soon meets Seth, the alcoholic young man who needs a place to stay and Sara who needs a place to house her chickens. With Prudence at the helm, this motley crew comes together to make a go of things.
I adored this book. There were so many things I loved about this book, but my favourite is the way in which the story unfolded. The story bounces back and forth amongst the characters, who tell different part of the story or at least their version of that part. Juby writes in four distinctive voices, one for each of the characters. Each of these is in the first person, which could have been really confusing, but she did such a great job that not once did I doubt who was "talking". It's so cleverly written. I loved following all of the hilarious escapades and Prudence's ideas to make the farm work.
The characters are varied, quirky and so much fun to read about. They had me laughing out loud many times. Prudence had penchant for recycling, gardening and saving the world. She was so out of her element, but she was determined to make a go of it. Earl was a handyman who's not all that handy. He was cantankerous and kept a closely guarded family secret. Seth, the alcoholic young man who used to live next door, comes to live with Prudence when his mother kicked him out. He asked Prudence for room and board in exchange for work, but was surprised his end of the bargain included actual work. Sara was a young girl who raised some prize winning chickens, but needed a place to keep them. She's so stern and mature for her age, not to mention a little bossy. She quickly becomes a fixture at the farm.
There were some more serious moments in the story. At one point, I got this very weird feeling about all of the characters that almost brought me to tears. I can't even pin point the part in the story that did that, but I really felt sorry for them all. It was very strange.
Prudence's experiences in Home Depot were priceless. I especially liked the part about not being able to find a person to help and then seeing one of the staff scurrying away to avoid being seen. I've had that same experience too many times. I can tell you it's only funny when it happens to someone else. Her trip to the farmer's market was equally entertaining.
paramecium (page 22): microscopic water organism.
Highly recommended. Immediately upon finishing this book, I went over to my computer, open a file called "Best Books of 2011" and added this title to the list. I enjoyed it that much. I hope Juby continues to write more novels for adults. I'd love to read a sequel to this one.
For more information about this book or to browse inside, please visit the HarperCollins Canada website.
For more information about the author and her other books, please visit Susan Juby's website. I love the home page.
I'd like to thank Shannon at HarperCollins Canada for this review copy.
The Woefield Poultry Collective by Susan Juby, HarperCollins, ©2011. ISBN 9781554687435(Uncorrected proof), 306p.