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Once There Was a Farm: A Country Childhood Remembered (Virginia Bookshelf) Paperback – November 1, 1998


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Product Details

  • Series: Virginia Bookshelf
  • Paperback: 273 pages
  • Publisher: University of Virginia Press (November 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0813918472
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813918471
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,445,110 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

It was an unusual household: the mother and three daughters lived on a ramshackle farm in western Virginia while the father stayed in Chicago, visiting his family during summer vacations and at Christmas. Virginia (Vallie), much younger than her sisters, never felt comfortable with her father. Playmates were a rarity, but she found rewards in the company of farm animals and the three black people who were hired help. Vallie wistfully observed her sisters and their friends, dreaming about her future suitors. Strange for that time and place, the sisters received no religious instruction; Vallie's attempt at self-baptism and the cook's reaction makes an endearing story. A devastating forest fire destroyed the farmhouse, and the family lived in a shed until a new home was built. In her debut book, the 71-year-old Dabney paints a wonderfully nostalgic picture of rural life in the late '20s through the Depression years. Author tour.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

A deeply affecting memoir of life on a backwoods Virginia farm in the first half of the 20th century, and an astonishing debut by a 71-year-old author... A wonderful book in which to lose oneself, and which restores nostalgia's tarnished name.

(Kirkus Reviews)

[This book] is an elegy; it moves with the natural dignity of longing and regret, without being afflicted by self-pity. Its nostalgia is no cheap trinket, but the residue of a profound experience of a way of life, not just a life style.

(New York Times Book Review)

What do you call a book like this, filled with dozens of passages in which the creatures of the barnyard are in a single shimmering detail, a paragraph or even a chapter brought to life... and in a way that causes readers not just to ponder the immemorial condition of hens or cows or cats, but to move on to a consideration of human fate as we?.

(San Francisco Examiner)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Michael on August 17, 1999
Format: Paperback
A beautfiul, poignant memoir of growing up in a less-than-perfect family (who didn't? But how many of us will admit it?) in a now vanished America (the rural South of the pre-World War II years). Dabney's clear-eyed reflections on her childhood memories will strike a chord with anyone who has looked back at their youth across the experience of years. This is no sweetly sentimental reminiscing; Dabney pulls few punches when relating her parents strengths and their failings, as well as her own sometimes less-than-lovable younger self. The pitfalls and prejudices of life in segregated Virginia are clearly spelled out, also. Yet, this is a poetic, moving book, delighting in the slower pace and rich detail of a life lived close to the soil and the seasons, with much beauty to enrich the spirit of an artistic person like the author. Painful episodes like the difficult marriage and premature death of her beautiful older sister are disclosed with grace and sympathy. As the author herself states, this is a book that truly took a lifetime to write, and every page sings with truth, beauty, and the joy and pain of life!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A. Methvin on April 9, 2006
Format: Paperback
Just as the reviewer before me, this is absolutely one of my all time favorite books! I am currently reading it for the 4th time in about 8 years. Each time I read it I find something different that strikes me. It is a beautifully written book, each word carefully chosen for maximum impact. It is a nostalgic read that will make you long for the simpler, but not uncomplicated, times of the past. Buy this book and enjoy it many times throughout the years to come! Mrs. Dabney will become like an old friend...
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By julie harris on June 3, 2000
Format: Paperback
this is simply put, a wonderful honest read. this is one of my all time favorite books. i am currently reading it for the third time in about 8 years. it is a pleasure to read EACH time. i know that this will not be my last time in reading it!
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