On Brassard's Farm by Daniel Hecht
In a radical departure from her urban life, Ann Turner buys a piece of remote Vermont land and sets up a tent home in deep forest. She’s trying to escape an unending string of personal disasters in Boston; more, she desperately wants to leave behind a world she sees as increasingly defined by consumerism, hypocrisy, and division.
As she writes in her journal, “There’s got to be a more honest, less divided way to live.”
She soon learns she was mistaken in thinking a kindly Mother Earth would grant her wisdom and serenity in her new home. The forest confronts her with unanticipated dangers, aching loneliness, harsh weather, instinctive fears, and unsettling encounters with wild animals. It’s beautiful, yes, but life in the woods is never easy. When necessity requires her to start work as a farmhand, she quickly realizes that she held similarly childish illusions about small farms. Under the stern tutelage of Diz Brassard, the farm’s sixty-year-old matriarch, and the gentler guidance of Earnest Kelley, an Oneida Indian friend of the Brassards, she discovers what hard work really means. Ann faces her predicament with determination, but there’s a lot to learn—about the Brassard family, about dairy farming, and about herself. If she is to succeed in her new life, she must become as tough and resilient as the rural community she lives in. She must also learn to accept love—even if it arrives in the most unexpected forms.
On Brassard’s Farm is a tale of personal struggle, sweeping transformation, and romantic love. Author Daniel Hecht tells of Ann Turner’s quest for a better life with unsparing honesty and gentle humor. Through its portrayal of the unrelenting labor and harsh pragmatism of farming, On Brassard’s Farm reveals the deep durability of rural life and offers a much-needed affirmation in a changing and uncertain world.
“Daniel Hecht’s story made me fall in love—with a hard land and a harder way of life, with tough women and noble men and the complex ecosystem that is the human family. In his hands, love is gritty and exhausting and the only thing powerful enough to keep us on our feet. In times of darkness, a story like this gives light, and strength, and hope.” —Laurie R. King, New York Times bestselling author of The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, Folly, and twenty-five other novels
“This is an intriguing mash-up of a love story and a tale of redemption…Narrator Flanagan has one of those voices you could listen to all day. She sounds down-to-earth and you can easily hear despair, longing, and exhaustion in her performance.” —Berkshire Edge
“The characters…grab you, and the farm is so well described it almost joins the cast…Narrator Flanagan has one of those voices you could listen to all day. She sounds down to earth and you can easily hear despair, longing, and exhaustion in her performance.” —Christian Science Monitor (audio review)
“Daniel Hecht’s On Brassard’s Farm is as deeply engaging a novel as I have ever read. The prose is rich, musical, and smart. The characters are so compelling and valiant in their struggling, and the portrait of the farm, the landscape, and the land itself is so completely alive that it will break your heart at the same time it fills you with wonder and appreciation. Hecht is a brave and resourceful writer. Again and again, I was so surprised and moved by what these characters do and say and feel that I had to get up and walk around the house to absorb what I’d learned about them. This is a book that is profoundly real and magical. I can’t recommend it strongly enough.” —David Huddle, author of Only the Little Bone, The Story of a Million Years, and The Faulkes Chronicle
“On Brassard’s Farm is at once a captivating love story and a profound portrait of existential despair and personal rebirth. Ann Turner, Hecht’s unsinkable heroine, manages to flourish on the bit of granite and earth she adopts as her own, but only by coming to see herself and the farm in ways she could never have imagined. Maybe not since Frost has a writer focused so intently and lucidly on the physics of farm life, the hidden armatures of cultivation and growth. Not only are miracles possible on Brassard’s farm, but—ironically enough—Vermont’s hardscrabble landscape comes to seem uniquely designed to deliver them. Truly an eye-opening tale.” —Philip Baruth, author of Senator Leahy: A Life in Scenes
Daniel Hecht is the author of six prior novels published in fourteen languages and one hundred editions throughout the world, including bestsellers in the United States, England, Holland, and Israel. His novels include Skull Session, The Babel Effect, Puppets, City of Masks, Land of Echoes, and Bones of the Barbary Coast. He lives in Vermont, where he teaches writing and works on behalf of environmental causes.
Lisa Flanagan is a classically trained soprano, comedian, voice-over artist, and Earphones Award–winning narrator.