Buy Now on Amazon.ca
Buy Now on Amazon.com
If I could see Susan Juby's bookshelves at home, I wouldn't be surprised to find copies of Jonathan Franzen's Freedom, Sue Monk Kidd's Life of Bees, Shaffer and Barrows' The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, and maybe several volumes by Sophie Kinsella. It's not that her novel is derivative per se, it's just that it seems very influenced by some of the folksy, so-quirky-it's-adorable novels with hapless characters and back-to-nature themes that have been so popular in recent years. That's not to say that I don't like those novels. With the exception of Jonathan Franzen, I've read and enjoyed all of the authors I mentioned above (I hated Freedom. Hated it. HATED IT.). But one thing that separates Susan Juby from most of those authors is that she doesn't seem to like any of her characters very much. Prudence, the city dweller turned sustainable farmer, is so clueless she doesn't seem to have any other qualities; Earl, the farm hand and secret musician, is more of a caricature of a lazy grump than a real character; Seth, the twenty-year-old alcoholic blogger, is just a whiny brat; and Sara, the oddly religious chicken enthusiast kid, is judgmental and annoying. It's not just that I find the characters unlikable, it's that the author seems to be laughing at them. Haha what silly awful people I've created. What hilarious situations can I put them in? I don't think Susan Juby
actually had anything to say with this novel. All in all, it makes for a book that is readable but shallow.