A Year in the Mud and the Toast and the Tears: My (semi) rural kind of life (Georgie Brooks, Bad Apple Press)
In the middle of another stifling summer in suburbia and in desperate need of a ‘tree change’ Georgie Brooks and her young family decide to make the bold move to buy an 1840s cottage in the Adelaide Hills. This memoir is first-time author Brooks’ comical account of the chaos that ensues as they attempt to make their naive fantasies of semi-rural life a reality. With her doctor husband mostly at work, Brooks finds herself having to use her wits to overcome an onslaught of sticky situations including an overflowing septic tank, a millipede invasion and an ever-failing bore water system. Despite the couple’s almost dubious ignorance about agricultural practice—cue a repeatedly bogged tractor and a rampant artichoke crop—their determination is admirable. Brooks occasionally dips below the superficiality of gardening and home renovations to ponder the trials of life as a stay-at-home mum, but rarely does her story plough any deeper than this. Most enjoyable are her ruminations on nature and the changing seasons, a theme she uses to tie the narrative together. While some deeper emotional insights would have added a welcome dimension, A Year in the Mud and the Toast and the Tears remains a cheerful and enjoyable account by a woman who isn’t afraid to make light of herself and her situation.
Jacqui Davies is a freelance writer and reviewer based in South Australia