Saturday, March 11, 2017

Republic of Dirt

The Republic of Dirt / Susan Juby
Toronto: HarperCollins, c2015.
399 p. 

Another amusing, light book I picked up at the library, this is the sequel to Home to Woefield, by an author better known for her YA prowess. I've read many of her YA novels and find her very funny and still warm-hearted.

Many of the expectations I had from those books were met in this adult novel as well. As for the humour, well, this novel was the winner of the 2016 Leacock Medal for Humour. 

Full disclosure, I never read the first book. And I really didn't have to in order to enjoy this volume. It is told in four voices, those of Prudence Burns (owner of Woefield Farm), Earl (an elderly farmhand with a secret), Seth (heavy metal blogger and farm assistant), and Sara (11 yrs old, keeps a flock of award winning chickens at the farm). 

Each of these oddball characters relate the story from their point of view, and as they do so you see how they make a family for themselves out of these random connections. They are each funny, sarcastic, caring, and somehow utterly charming. Plus chickens. Somehow adding a chicken always makes things more amusing. 

It's a bit of a romp, a bit over the top at times. There are some scenes that made me laugh, some that amused. I thought it was a nice story -- despite some of the darker elements, Juby keeps the story palatable for a general reader, if you don't mind two characters with a bit of a cursing habit. I thought it was entertaining, and engaging, but sometimes a little too jokey for me. But I'm not the ideal fan of humorous fiction, as it is really so individual as to what one person finds funny or not, and I often don't have quite the same sensibilities as an author. So while I did enjoy this, I probably won't go back to read the first one in the series. 

But as a light and easy read, it was solidly written, with both laughs and melancholy combined. 


  1. Sounds like we had a very similar response to this one. I wonder now if it was a mistake for me not to have read the first (even though I was assured it was strong as a standalone) because if I'd been more attached to the characters, I might've felt more of a connection with some of the events in this second volume. I liked it, but I wanted to love it. Especially because there are so many sad stories in CanLit!

    1. Yes, exactly. I keep trying humorous titles but they are uneven so it's nice when I find one I even mostly like!


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