Back-of-the-book blurb: What happens when two New Yorkers (one an ex–drag queen) do the unthinkable: start over, have a herd of kids, and get a little dirty?
A happy series of accidents and a doughnut-laden escape upstate take Josh and his partner, Brent, to the doorstep of the magnificent (and fabulously for sale) Beekman Mansion. One hour and one tour later, they have begun their transformation from uptight urbanites into the two-hundred-year-old-mansion-owning Beekman Boys.
The Bucolic Plague is a story about approaching middle age, being in a long-term relationship, realizing the city no longer feeds you in the same way it used to, and finding new depths of love and commitment wherever you live.
She Is Too Fond of Books’ review: This is the kind of memoir I love – real people having fun/quirky adventures and confronting obstacles that have the power to make or break them. I’ve recommended The Bucolic Plague to many of my IRL friends, a book group that reads only non-fiction, and a man in a bookstore who was looking for “that book about two guys from the City who buy a farm.”
Kilmer-Purcell’s prose tell their story in an entertaining manner, at times funny — This scene I especially enjoyed, due to my own recent adventures – and some misadventures – with canning; the author has just dipped tomatoes into boiling water, then into icy water, to “shock” the skins off, per instructions on the Martha Stewart website:
Of course, the tomatoes she used for her demonstration were perfectly smooth and orblike. Our heirloom tomatoes came in all shapes and sizes, with bulbous protrusions and deep crevices that bordered on pornographic. While Martha’s skins fell off her tomatoes like a silk slip off a supermodel, our skins got caught in the deep folds and stuck stubbornly. It was like trying to peel leather pants off of a sweaty, hairy, fat guy.
At times poignant, like the scene when Kilmer-Purcell tries to retrieve the wishbone from the compost pile, hoping to share a wish with his partner. He had just been ruminating over the success of their first Thanksgiving dinner hosted at the Beekman – a dinner shared with friends who were content simply to be together enjoying a meal, without the usual excess of the holiday:
Just when I thought I had loosened it enough to break free, it broke. I was left holding the smallest prong.
The turkey won.
But it didn’t matter. This boy from Wisconsin already had most of his wishes come true.
While on the surface it may seem that Josh and Brett live a charmed life – they both have steady incomes which allow them to purchase the Beekman, Brett’s job with Martha Stewart Omnimedia connects them with interesting people and opportunities – the memoir is about more than the happy mishaps of city-folks turned gentlemen-farmers.
They have their share of struggles – economic hardships strain their relationship, and they begin to question the reasons they purchased the home and the goals they have for it, and for each other. Josh and Brett must assess their options when it comes to saving both the Beekman Mansion and their partnership. While enjoying a well-paced and entertaining memoir, the reader can form his/her own opinion as to whether they sacrificed any of their goals.
Highly recommended; Josh and Brett’s story is one to watch as it continues to evolve.