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343 Reviews
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159 of 167 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Dirty Life is a compelling, unsentimental read
Although I am generally no fan of the memoir, I was deeply moved by The Dirty Life. Author Kristin Kimball first dissects her decision to give up a freelance writing career and a rent-controlled NYC apartment to start a sustainable agricultural venture with her then-fiance in upstate New York. She then smartly breaks the rest of the book up by season, going into just...
Published on October 14, 2010 by yeqotz

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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fun, but dig deeper in the dirt, Kristin!
I have longed for, and not found, many modern biographical books out there about women who farm. I was excited to find this memoir, and enjoyed it, but despite the talented writing, I felt a lack of connection to the author and the people she includes in her story.

I wanted to love this book, but found myself disappointed by the lack of deeper characterizations...
Published on December 10, 2012 by C. Frederick


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159 of 167 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Dirty Life is a compelling, unsentimental read, October 14, 2010
Although I am generally no fan of the memoir, I was deeply moved by The Dirty Life. Author Kristin Kimball first dissects her decision to give up a freelance writing career and a rent-controlled NYC apartment to start a sustainable agricultural venture with her then-fiance in upstate New York. She then smartly breaks the rest of the book up by season, going into just enough detail about the daily operations of the farm and the crises that crop up to draw the reader in and keep him or her invested in the outcome of this sometimes overwhelming undertaking.

Kimball's voice is refreshingly unsentimental, and even in her darkest hour of the soul, she never resorts to whining. She has her doubts, to be sure, which make for an authentic, compelling read. I recommend this memoir to anyone looking for a well-written story not just about building a farm from the ground up, but also about handling the unexpected turns life sometimes takes.
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85 of 89 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is truly a love story between man & woman, between farmers, between community & the farm!, October 12, 2010
This book grabs your soul. You don't want to put it down until you've consumed every last morsel. It is truly a love story! A story about the love between a man & a woman, love between farmers & love between a community & a farm. It is a story about a man who so believed in a dream that he made it materialize in spite of being surrounded by skeptics & about a woman who lost her heart to a man and to the land. This is a powerful book that is destined to be an award winning movie. A man, a woman & a community come together to make a dream a reality. It proves that life is about so much more than money. Money can not buy what the Kimballs have built!
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51 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must for non-farmers, October 20, 2010
While at first glance it seems this memoir is for those who know farm life, it holds more for those who don't. Kristin Kimball beautifully describes the rawness and romanticism of working hard with someone you love to achieve a dream. It renews your faith in a younger generation that values the way farms used to be - family owned and community supported, both frustrating and fantastic, and eternally dirty. Kimball's descriptive phrasing will make you long to sip straight from the sap bucket again.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Soulful Memoir About Life, Love, and Living Off the Land, October 29, 2010
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This book, very timely with our national interest in eating local and sustainable food, is a touching account of a woman falling in life with a man and falling in love with the land they work. Anyone who has ever been drawn to growing their own food, or who has nostalgic memories of parents or grandparents doing so, will be greatly rewarded by this book. Kimball's writing style is direct, enjoyable, and quite humorous. A story she recounts about both she and her soon-to-be husband's parents meeting for the first time is absolutely hilarious.

Though this book is a book about farming and the lives of a husband and a wife, the book ultimately connects readers to themselves and the world around them.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "A Year in Provence" meets "Omnivore's Dilemma", November 13, 2010
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I loved this book.

I was looking forward to romanticized stories on farming and fresh, local food. But I got so much more.

Kristin Kimball allowed me to explore a world I'd never really understood with language that's beautiful, evocative and direct.

More than just giving me a window into the farming life, I felt like I could touch and taste it. The grueling work. The connection with the animals. The joy of creation right alongside the very real fear of failure. I felt like I lived the stories, met the people, and ate the food.

Reading "The Dirty Life" is like receiving a wonderfully generous gift. You're able to accept it without feeling guilty for not wanting to make the same trade-offs. You just want to say a heartfelt "thank you" and share it with the people you care about.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars didn't want to stop reading, October 29, 2010
I typically do not like memoirs. This one is awesome. I didn't want to put it down. Kristen writes honestly and from the heart. It's a love story all tied up with a story about how difficult, challenging, and rewarding farming on a small scale can be. The writing is compelling, the story heartwarming. This book is not just for those interested in farming--it has a much broader appeal. It is a fantastic story of struggle, accomplishment against great odds, and of love, both love of the land and love between a man and a woman--and it is true!
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fun, but dig deeper in the dirt, Kristin!, December 10, 2012
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C. Frederick "bigswell" (St. Croix United States Virgin Islands) - See all my reviews
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I have longed for, and not found, many modern biographical books out there about women who farm. I was excited to find this memoir, and enjoyed it, but despite the talented writing, I felt a lack of connection to the author and the people she includes in her story.

I wanted to love this book, but found myself disappointed by the lack of deeper characterizations and motives revealed. Many of the author's actions, large and small, are described, but go unexamined and unexplained. I wanted a 'new best friend' in this book, but I found the author oddly emotionally unavailable, offering what felt to me like detached, generic platitudes for unique descriptions (however beautifully phrased), instead of deeply personal truths.

On the other hand, I enjoyed the 'shop talk' of farming that the book offered. Much of what she describes, and describes well, will be very familiar to people who have worked on a small scale organic farming operation. I found myself laughing and sighing at what was very recognizable.

Occasionally a detail is thrown into the story that to me didn't quite resonate with the rest of the character of the book - a few of her musings and memories felt gratuitous, undeveloped, or incongruous with what I found relatable about the author. Perhaps this was in part because of the 'one year' format of the book, edited for space. I would have appreciated fewer lovely vignettes in exchange for deeper reflection on the inevitable, sometimes heartbreaking compromises and conflicts that farming can push one up against. There certainly are enough how-to books out there.

At times the author's voice veers from humility to a sort of eco-pious braggadocio -- that inconsistency makes me think she hadn't quite found her comfort zone within the diverse roles that small scale family farming places one in. But it is her story, and she does tell it for the most part in a self-deprecating tone that I enjoyed. It's a fun look at her transition from city to country. I certainly respect all of the skills she managed to gain in one short year, and the time it took her to write the book while trying to raise a small child and continue to run her farm. Never having tried to put my own experience down in a book - it's easy to be a critic. And when you run a farm -- it can be like living in a fishbowl, so perhaps the emotional omissions are deliberate.

Definitely worth reading!
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An inspiring read!, October 29, 2010
I devoured this book by Kristin Kimball, enthralled by her adventure of trading Manhattan life for a broken down farm that she and her future husband bring back to life. This is a gifted writer who mixes laugh-out-loud passages with appreciation for community and friendship. I came away wanting more - a daily blog or reality series? - realizing that the farm and her young family already keep her life full to overflowing.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A love story with grit, October 30, 2010
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I loved this book. The story is jaw dropping, funny, heart wrenching. It made me yearn to do something so daring, and at the same time, maybe not. Kimball's writing is stunning. I felt I went on a journey I will never forget.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a gourmet read, November 7, 2010
This book is pure pleasure! You will be salivating at the author's descriptions and humored as well. Kristin is an artist of the written word. You should not miss the book!
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The Dirty Life: A Memoir of Farming, Food, and Love
The Dirty Life: A Memoir of Farming, Food, and Love by Kristin Kimball (Paperback - April 12, 2011)
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