Susan Juby's Republic of Dirt (2015)

The Republic Of Dirt - Susan Juby

Prudence Burns isn't having an easy time on Woefield Farm.


"I am beginning to think the word farm actually means ‘land upon which things go wrong in surprising and unexpected ways’ or perhaps ‘place where it’s impossible to get good help’."


But readers will appreciate her conundrum. Though perhaps take issue with the lament over finding good help, for Seth and Earl and Sara are very helpful in their own way.


Sure, Seth has only recently moved out of his mother's house (though not exactly willingly) and has a lot to learn, from AA meetings and just generally (that's Seth speaking, above).


Earl is getting older, and admittedly "keeping [his] drawers hitched up these days is challenge enough".


And Sara is only eleven years old but such a fanatic about fowl that she is grateful to be cast as livestock in the school play. "Mrs Singer was the one who gave me the role of the partridge in the Christmas play because she’s very fond of me."


But loyal and determined? You bet.


Each is so emotionally invested in Woefield Farm that readers can sense the dirt under their finger nails.


Readers who prefer humour with an edge will find fiction like Sheri LaPeña's Happiness Economics (2011) or Edward Riche's Easy to Like (2011) more satisfying.


But those who prefer gentle chuckles over raucous cackles,will find much to enjoy in Susan Juby's fiction for adults.


(Best to begin, however, with Home to Woefield (2011).)

These thoughts first appeared on BuriedInPrint.