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Home to Woefield


Home to Woefield

It's probably impossible to write about Susan Juby's books without using the word "quirky," so I'm not even going to try. Juby has written three young adult novels about inimitable nonconformist teenager Alice MacLeod, and now, with her adult fiction debut, she introduces a handful of characters just as endearing, complex and, yes, quirky as Alice herself.

Twenty-four-year-old Prudence lives in New York City but dreams of life on a farm --- or, more specifically, of running the kind of farmers' market stand that will have customers lining up for heirloom produce and earnest conversation about locavorism. She's the author of a questionable young adult novel about global warming ("the lone review I'd received made it clear that there was more to writing a successful YA novel than expressing passionate opinions").

Prudence seems to get her wish when she receives notice that her uncle has died and left her a farm on Vancouver Island. Anyone other than Prudence might have run away screaming upon seeing the rock-strewn, barren fields, the lone bedraggled, depressed sheep, and the ramshackle farmhouse, not to mention upon learning that the farm is on the verge of foreclosure. But Prudence is a cockeyed optimist, determined to make the best of a bad situation: "The property was spectacular. So rugged and untouched. All that wonderful grass. The beauty of stray stones in a field! It just needed to be cultivated and enriched."

Prudence soon finds herself overwhelmed by the amount of work and her own lack of knowledge (even if she'd never admit it, even to herself), but she's determined to make the best of her situation with the help of hired man Earl (who's never done a lick of work for Prudence's uncle), new boarder Seth (an alcoholic celebrity blogger), and 11-year-old poultry fancier Sara (who's been reading the fundamentalist Christian novel LEFT BEHIND). All three of these newcomers have their own backstories and reasons for needing the kind of solace Woefield Farm might be able to provide.

Alternately narrated by each of the main characters' unique voices in chronologically overlapping chapters, HOME TO WOEFIELD unfolds gradually as we learn their histories, witness their transformation, and hope that Prudence's vision for the future will somehow miraculously come to pass. Sure, it seems like a long shot, but so does friendship among these disparate, damaged souls. And as we read Earl's tragic story of escaped fame, Seth's bleary rants and ramblings, and Sara's heartbreakingly earnest desires for the future, we eagerly don Prudence's rose-colored glasses and hope for the best for all of them.

Quirky, heartwarming and extremely funny, HOME TO WOEFIELD should help Susan Juby find the wider audience she so deserves.

Reviewed by Norah Piehl on March 28, 2011

Home to Woefield
by Susan Juby

  • Publication Date: March 1, 2011
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Paperbacks
  • ISBN-10: 0061995193
  • ISBN-13: 9780061995194