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Review: The Bucolic Plague

July 26, 2012

Former drag queen turned advertising executive, Josh Kilmer-Purcell and his partner, Dr. Brent Ridge, were a couple of Manhattanites on their annual apple picking weekend when they spied the Beekman Mansion in Sharon Springs, New York.  The mansion was for sale so they decided to take a  look at it even though they figured it was out of their price range.  They fell in love with it and, after crunching the numbers, made an offer on it.  Before they knew what happened, it was theirs.  Josh dreamed of living at the Beekman full-time but it just wasn’t possible since both of their jobs were in New York City.

Brent worked for Martha Stewart at the time and felt a lot of pressure when it was time to exchange gifts with his co-workers.  He needed to come up with something that was handmade and unique.  He settled on soap made from the milk of some of the Beekman’s goats.  Martha Stewart was so impressed with the soap, she invited him to appear on her show to demonstrate how to make the soap.  Requests for the soap started pouring in and Josh and Brent decided to see if maybe they could make a business out of it.

I have only seen parts of The Martha Stewart Show a few times and one of those times was when Brent Ridge appeared on the show with his soap.  I was captivated with his story and loved that he and his partner were trying to live their dream.  Since I love memoirs, I was excited to see that Josh Kilmer-Purcell has written The Bucolic Plague, a book about their experience living at the Beekman, and I was not disappointed!  I found the book to be delightful!  It’s honest, irreverent, humorous, and heartwarming.

Of course, the story is told from Josh’s point of view but he came across as very open and honest – he wasn’t afraid to admit when he was wrong.  He and Brent had common goals but had different ideas of how to attain them – Brent wanted to live a perfect life like Martha and Josh wanted to live his best life like Oprah.

But somehow the Beekman brought out the worst traits in both of us, which were also the very same traits we once respected and admired each other for.  His drive and perfectionism.  My love of a good time and true experiences.

In short, he was Martha.

And I was Oprah.

Reading about Josh and Brent working and bumbling on their farm, interacting with their neighbors, and almost giving up in defeat was a treat the way Kilmer-Purcell wrote it.  He’s witty and self deprecating and down-right fun!  I’m itching to buy some soap and visit the Beekman after reading their story.  I’d recommend this for anyone who loves memoirs – it just might inspire you to make a change in your life.

I listened to the audio version of The Bucolic Plague.  It’s narrated by Johnny Heller.  At first, I wasn’t sure about him as the narrator but I got used to his voice and came to appreciate his narration as the story progressed.  The audio lasts approximately eight hours.

Review copy provided by Tantor Audio.  I am an Indiebound Affiliate.
23 Comments leave one →
  1. Beth F permalink
    July 26, 2012 7:12 am

    I have been wanting to read this memoir since it first came out. I’m so glad you enjoyed it. I might go with audio too.

  2. July 26, 2012 8:11 am

    I hadn’t heard of this book or the author, but it does sound good. I just love honest, irreverent, humorous, and heartwarming. Sounds like my kind of book.

  3. sandynawrot permalink
    July 26, 2012 8:29 am

    Since the audio is in MP3 format and can only be listened to in my car, I am waiting until school starts (when I am in the car by myself more) to listen. I can’t wait. Trust me, this will completely fuel the fire in my heart to milk animals and make cheese. Or soap.

  4. July 26, 2012 9:29 am

    This one is completely new to me, it sounds really good.

  5. July 26, 2012 10:58 am

    This sounds very cute, and perfect for listening!

  6. July 26, 2012 11:55 am

    I absolutely loved this book. It was handed to me one year at BEA and I was so thrilled to be introduced to this great couple! I love their show…and their house is stunning!

  7. July 26, 2012 12:44 pm

    Sounds like an interesting book.

  8. July 26, 2012 1:23 pm

    oh i love reading memoirs! and this sounds like a pretty quick and short read too at only 8 hours long. thanks for the recommendation!

  9. Patty permalink
    July 26, 2012 3:01 pm

    I know of these boys…they had a tv show!!!

  10. July 26, 2012 3:12 pm

    Great review….sounds like a fun read or fun to listen to.

  11. Beth Hoffman permalink
    July 26, 2012 3:25 pm

    I’m not one to read many memoirs, but something about this has grabbed my attention!

  12. July 26, 2012 3:37 pm

    I love audiobooks and am nearing the end of my current one. I’m definitely putting this next on my list. It sounds great.

  13. July 26, 2012 4:36 pm

    Sounds like a fun read – will definitely be getting my hands on a copy. Great post!

  14. July 26, 2012 6:41 pm

    You aren’t the first to say that this is a very fun read. I hope I still have it around here.

  15. July 26, 2012 7:03 pm

    I think I have this on the shelf somewhere. I’m woefully behind on some reading!

  16. July 26, 2012 8:21 pm

    interesting title..if I hadn’t look at the picture on the cover I would have passed this right by.

  17. July 26, 2012 8:54 pm

    How awesome that they were able to live out a dream together. Love the Martha/Oprah comparison. I think that happens in many realtionships 🙂

  18. July 26, 2012 9:43 pm

    Wasn’t this a great memoir? They have a TV show too on some obscure channel but I’ve never seen it. And if you want a change of pace, you should read Josh’s memoir about his days as a drag queen — that was something else! : )

  19. July 27, 2012 7:14 am

    This sounds like a memoir I’d enjoy reading. I’ve seen it around for quite a while but just haven’t had time. Your review reminds me. I love the Martha – Oprah life style goals – that made me laugh out loud 🙂

  20. zibilee permalink
    July 27, 2012 2:43 pm

    I have seen so many positive reviews of this one, and the story sounds very unique and interesting. I love the idea of Brent making soap from the goat’s milk, and I can honestly say that two people trying to live lives like Martha Stewart and Oprah in one house probably got very complicated pretty quickly! This does sound like something I want to grab on audio, so I will be adding it to my list for the library when I can. Thanks for the excellent and detailed review. Awesome job!

  21. July 27, 2012 4:22 pm

    This sounds like a book I would adore! Thank you for bringing it to my attention!

  22. July 27, 2012 6:45 pm

    I keep on wanting to read this book but haven’t managed to get my hands on it.

  23. Staci@LifeintheThumb permalink
    July 29, 2012 5:10 pm

    This one sounds like great fun and the type of memoir I really enjoy!!!

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