October 08, 2011
Homestead by Jane Kirkpatrick
Jane and her husband decide to pursue a dream of moving back to the land and doing a bit of farming. They find a good portion of land in the wilderness and even though its hard to get to and not really built up any way, they decide to move to it. This is a gradual process first seeing them go out to visit and work, then move to a trailer on the property, until finally building their house. They also have to decide how they are going to improve upon the land and what they are going to farm, not to mention secure the funds to do it. They have a lot of setbacks though and homesteading life proves to be very difficult for the Kirkpatricks. More than once they question their decision and whether to stick with it.
Jane is a very good narrator, she tells of people without fogging the opinion of them too much. For instance, her step son and his wife really aren't the greatest of people, but she describes their good aspects as well and her hopes for them. That part of the book is actually very positive despite the subject matter. What did surprise me is that she didn't really mention her husband as much as I expected. He was there doing things, and they had talks at times, but he wasn't a main focus of the book.
I really wish Kirkpatrick had put more positives in this book. There were some parts of the novel where I just kind of set it down and wondered why on earth they strove with it after reading disaster upon disaster with no good instances to be found for several chapters. A more positive outlook would have helped and while I appreciate the reality of struggle, it can't have been all struggle or they wouldn't have stayed. Another note on the writing is that this book could be considered Christian Fiction. Those familiar with Kirkpatrick's fiction work would probably already have known this was her genre, but as a new reader, I did not. It didn't really distract in any way, but since this is her narrative about her life, adds to her belief system and explains her motivations.
It was an interesting tale, harrowing at times and if I wasn't already on the land it would probably make me think twice about getting back to it. However, there are many other books out there that tell the good of such an endeavor so I suppose there must be a book with all the warnings.