Oh Look! Rechelle Reads Another Country Life Book! What a Shocking Surprise!

June 28th, 2011

The Bucolic Plague written by Josh Kilmer-Purcell recounts the purchase of a beautifully restored 1802 mansion on a sprawling estate in upstate New York. Kilmer-Purcell purchase the house along with his partner Dr. Brent Ridge (an employee of Martha Stewart Omni Media)  for a country get-away.  But soon both men find themselves in the grips of an unrelenting love affair with their new home and attempt to find a way to give up their day jobs in Manhattan and find a way to ‘live off the land’ at their new home. So they start to make soap from goat milk to sell and their adventure begins.

At first I was mildly irritated by the book. Although I am a steadfast devotee of all ‘country life books’ I found Kilmer-Purcell’s story to be a bit too tidy at first. They painlessly grow heirloom vegetables in raised beds that they constructed in a cheerful haze of farmy delight while a thousand contented goats frolick in the background. Their village teems with cheerful, helpful souls who love nothing better than to invite the new people to fabulous parties where everyone drinks and eats and helps each other to succeed. And then Martha Stewart invites the new gentlemen farmers onto her show and overnight they sell out of their stock of goat soap.

Oh brother!

But then about halfway through the book, there is a shift. A decidedly rancid shift. The relationship between Brent and Josh begins to reel. Their finances falter. The goats sicken and die… Okay. The goats don’t really sicken and die, but a few things do start to go wrong and that is when the story started to have a bit more mirthless ire while maintaining a mirthful undercurrent which (sicko that I am) began to perk my interest. I also found myself enjoying the story more whenever Martha Stewart showed up.  She is always a fascinating character and hearing employee gossip about her is even better!

If you like stories where the houses are one of the main characters, of people trying to live off the land, of big city gossip set inside a New England hamlet, you might enjoy this book. I spent a bit of time on the Beekman Boys website after I finished it. They also have a television show now. I have not seen it, but may try to catch it at some point.  There are better back to the land books out there, but because of it’s social media aspects, it’s Martha Stewart cameos and the fact that it is a gay couple rather than the same/old same old hetero couple learning how to raise poultry, make cheese and can tomatoes, it makes an interesting addition to the ‘country life’ genre.


  • Leslie:

    Funny…I just read this book a month or two ago. I tend to agree with you…it didn’t really get interesting until things started to fall apart.

    As a side note…on your recommendation a while back, I put “The House of Elliott” on my Netflix list and I am now through the second DVD and really enjoying the series…

  • susan:

    I watched their tv program awhile back and it is very unique. my son worked on their show (‘the beekman boys’) since he is an online editor in california and urged me to watch it. my daughter read the book written by Josh about his problems with alcohol and found it quite fascinating. you have to see the series. quite a hoot.

  • km:

    I’m smiling because if we see a crumbling Victorian here in our little New England town we all agree -we need a gay NYC couple to come up and save it.
    So many adorable Vic ladies who need TLC and major dollars. It is truly a beautiful transformation.
    But spare us from the ibankers, please, please. Money, no taste:)

  • Jennifer:

    You should watch the show! They have an interesting chemistry with Brent being the OCD perfectionist and Josh being a former drag queen and current drama queen. I love them and oddly enough so does my 12 year old son. He’ll say “let’s watch that gay farmers show”.

  • sabazinus:

    The book is worth it just for the scene where they bring baby goats from upstate New York to the Martha Stewart show in NYC.

  • theresa:

    I want to read this. Have you ever read “Confessions of a Counterfeit Farmgirl”? It is a memoir by Susan McCorkindale. It is okay, but her style of adding footnote comments throughout the book gets annoying. Anyway, I think she and Ree were channeling one another. Many similarities….

  • Love the Beekman Boys! Although I must admit I love John the goat herder a bit more.

  • Sheila:

    Thanks for another great book suggestion. I really enjoyed this one. I like all of your picks, so I have a suggestion for your night stand. Have you checked out Confessions of a Prairie Bitch? It’s an autobiography by the girl who played Nellie Olson on Little House. It is funny and moving at the same time, I like to keep it past the due date so the librarian has to call me and say, “You have a book overdue, Confessions of a Prairie, ah, Prairie, um, (whisper) bitch.”

    • Catherine:

      Ha ha. At my local library they just send you a reminder in the mail. Shame really.