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Mud Season: How One Woman's Dream of Moving to Vermont, Raising Children, Chickens and Sheep, and Running the Old Country Store Pretty Much Led to One Calamity After Another Hardcover – October 7, 2013
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From Publishers Weekly
Stimson's predictable tale of uprooting to Vermont after an idyllic fall vacation has its fun moments, including "choosing the cheese" and experiencing Mud Season, the time in early spring when "the snow opens up the hard, bare ground beneath it," but never enough of them to outweigh the plodding narrative. Initial visions of a picturesque small-town life are immediately sidetracked by the day-to-day of historic home renovations and management troubles at the "Horrible Quaint Country Store" that Stimson and her husband decide to open. Natural descriptions provide moments of serenity: "There seems to be a whole, separate world just below the snowy, melty surface." Such instances, unfortunately, are often bogged down by repetitive footnoting. Stimson's story, which concludes with bankruptcy negotiations and a promise never to buy a store again, is fraught with anxiety and missteps. More than thirty appended pages of recipes, including three pet memoriam, supply cheerier resolutions than the story commands. Such additions detract from what would otherwise be a bittersweet story, making this book far more complicated, and less enjoyable, than it should be. (Oct.)
*Starred Review* Get your schadenfreude ready. Stimson’s fish-out-of-water memoir is chockablock with self-deprecating, belly-laughable vignettes. Not since Betty MacDonald’s The Egg and I (1945) has anybody seemed more ill-suited to country life. And yet this born-and-bred midwestern city dweller, having run up an enormous tab at her local Vermont country store, thinks, Maybe I could run a quaint country store. Visions of herself, husband John, and their Bernese Mountain dog, Eloise, greeting delighted customers with homemade breads and soups and cozy woodstove fires eclipsed all logic. They bought the store. Which sounds ominously like the phrase, they bought the farm. Which it may as well have been in the case of this former wholesale book businesswoman who seemed hell-bent on proving she had more money and credit than brains. Naturally, first thing, Stimson rearranged the store to suit her well-intentioned yuppie sensibilities. The locals stayed away in droves. Indeed, her first customers—staid, khaki-and-sensible-shoe-wearing native Vermonters—took one look at her swingy orange and purple outfit accessorized with jangly jewelry and thought she was a fortune teller. The experience foretold a very long acclimation and heaps of hilarious anecdotes. As for this book—come for the humor, stay for the recipes. --Donna Chavez
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