cover image On Brassard’s Farm

On Brassard’s Farm

Daniel Hecht. Blackstone, $29.99 (406p) ISBN 978-1-5047-9771-9

This wondrous, unique love story by Hecht (Skull Session) pits former middle school teacher Ann Turner against the vicissitudes of life on a small dairy farm in rural Vermont. Ann’s life has fallen apart, so much so that it feels like “a hurtling dark freight train... monstrous, mindless, spraying sparks from the rails”; she has fled Boston, searching for a life in the woods both to replenish and punish herself. She falls in love with a parcel of wild land on offer by Jim Brassard, a dairy farmer desperately in need of funds. When a financial downturn burns through most of her final payment of $10,000, Jim and Ann agree that she will work off the rest of her debt, and she becomes tied to the land. Jim’s wife, Diz, is crucial to the running of the farm, as is his best friend since Vietnam, Earnest Kelley, an Oneida man who pitches in when his tree surgery business allows. Ann eventually learns that, unlike her urban notions of farming, in reality when farming means living “in suspense.” There is backbreaking labor, beauty, tragedy, and joy in this story of starting life again. (Apr.)