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A Country Called Home

A Country Called Home

3.4 5
by Kim Barnes

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A powerful novel of young love and rural isolation from the acclaimed author of In the Wilderness.

Thomas Deracotte is just out of medical school, and his pregnant wife, Helen, have their whole future mapped out for them in upper-crust Connecticut. But they are dreamers, and they set out to create their own farm in rural Idaho instead. The fields are in

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Country Called Home 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
In Connecticut scholarship medical student Thomas Deracotte met, dated, and married wealthy Helen over the objections of her upper crust parents her father being third generation Yale especially detested this scholarship student. Soon after they exchange I do, the couple in 1960 moves to a farm in Fife, Idaho where he is to open up a medical practice the current local health care comes from a pharmacist. --- Shockingly, Thomas delays starting his practice as he would rather work the land Helen quickly misses her family and her New England upper class lifestyle as farm living is not the place for her. She becomes pregnant while Thomas hires teen Manny to work on the farm. Helen gives birth to Elise, but she soon wants freedom from her intolerant spouse and is lonely from the hours of nothing but motherhood while her husband turns to drugs to alleviate his feelings of failure as a physician, as a farmer, as a husband, and as a father. She considers Manny for a fling and he is falling in love with her. However after a tragedy changes the family dynamics, Manny is more a dad to Elise while her biological father is deeper into drugs. --- This is a dark family drama that looks closely at the 1960s and 1970s when youthful idealism turned to cynicism and disappointment yet with Elise there is guarded hope for the future. None of the four lead characters escape the bleakness, which in some ways becomes overbearing when one traumatic event is followed by another and another until suddenly Elsie is a teenager. Still in spite of the overwhelming sense of negativity, Kim Barnes provides a poignant look at idealism without pragmatism. --- Harriet Klausner
Queponco More than 1 year ago
When the two main characters, a newly minted physician and his bride, leave Connecticut for Idaho in 1960, all seems hopeful. The physician delays opening his practice, however, because her prefers to fish and hang around the hardscrabble ranch he bought. When a baby is stillborn, he becomes distant from his wife. One doesn't expect a young doctor to grudgingly begin his professional work and one doesn't expect a young husband to emotionally remove himself from his newlywed even after losing a child at birth. Shortly before the still birth, this couple was madly in love! The author does not explain or show the reader why her doctor acts in these ways. He experiences even greater tragedy, and this tragedy triggers a response still more morose. The author seems to suggest that his losses explain his behavior, but they do not. Many people who endure great losses get over them and carry on. The doctor's decline lacks dramatic power because it is not explained. This is the main fault of the novel. A number of pages show closely observed writing. The opening, in particular, promises a poetically imagined world. Some of the writing, however, meanders into pointless observations of ketchup splatting out of a bottle and other details that leach authority from the tale. At times, the novel reads like teen lit, as when a character spends time in an institution. The book is set in 1960 and 1976, but the writer fails to evoke these eras or use them as atmosphere for her story. Perhaps the 1960 setting is meant to suggest isolation of the young wife, those being the days before full emancipation of women. It's hard to tell. These shortcomings detract from a full enjoyment of the story. I liked the druggist best. Some of the wry dialogue he is accorded has the wise, laconic ring of a tired old man in a small town. I cared about the characters too, even when their thoughts and actions seemed improbable. A story does not have to make sense. But to be successful, it should convince the reader that it could have happened. The author asks for more faith from her readers to believe that people, young, in love, and in good health, will act self-destructively, than I was able to muster.
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