Saturday, June 4, 2011

The Woefield Poultry Collective by Susan Juby

Susan Juby's Alice, I Think is one of the funniest novels I've ever read. The Woefield Poultry Collective is even better. Twenty-something Brooklynite Prudence inherits Woefield farm on Vancouver Island and is determined to make a success of the rocky, mortgaged-to-the-hilt piece of property that comes with one curmudgeonly hired man (Earl) and one depressed sheep (Bertie).

The story has four quirky narrators: Prudence, Earl, Seth and Sara. I love each one them. Earl's voice reminds me of the earthy way several of my uncles talk. On one of the few occasions when Earl is lost for words, he says "I didn't know whether to shit or brush my hair."

A traumatic incident caused Seth to drop out of school in Grade 11 and in the four years since he barely left his room; most of that time was spent blogging about heavy metal music and celebrities. Seth lived right across the road from Woefield until his mother kicked him out and he knocked on Prudence's door.

Sara is a bossy no-nonsense eleven-year-old with a passion for fancy chickens. Talking about Left Behind, Sara says "It doesn't have a very good plot, but it's easier to read than the Bible, which Mrs. Blaine also lent me. Mrs. Blaine told me that Left Behind was based on true events that will take place in the future." Sara's preoccupation with the rapture brings recent real-life headlines to mind.

Prudence is good-hearted, enthusiastic and works incredibly hard. I knew it was useless to resist her charms. Go Prudence! Go Susan Juby!

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