The very first post I wrote for this blog was a review of a historical fiction set in colonial New Zealand, which I read because a) it was $1.99 and b) it was set in NZ. I recently read Dirty Chick: Adventures of an Unlikely Farmer, a memoir about an American ex-pat living in a small farming community in New Zealand because a) the publisher offered me a review copy and b) it is set in NZ. The publisher also offered to give a copy of Dirty Chick to a reader, so leave a comment at the end of this post to win!
I know, I sound a bit like a crazy person, but NZ is essentially my personal Shangri-La. I spent a summer there on an internship in college, followed by a few weeks of traveling around with my BFF/sister/co-blogger Amanda, and we had the best time ever. Besides, if anyone is going to judge me for being a crazy person, I’m pretty sure that it won’t be Antonia Murphy, author of Dirty Chick, because she sounds a bit like a crazy person as well.
Dirty Chick is Murphy’s personal account of the first year she and her family spent living on a farm on New Zealand’s North Island. She lists and details her and her husband’s reasons for going to, and staying, in NZ as:
- The ocean
- George W. Bush (“This was 2003 and 2004, the height of the Bush years, and Peter and I were unnerved by the wartime zeal in our country. Most of our fellow liberals were threatening to emigrated to Canada or New Zealand, but as it turns out, we were the crazy ones who did.”)
- Hobbits; and
- DNA (in the form of their developmentally delayed son)
There are surely many people who may be annoyed by this book. For instance, if you are annoyed by any of the following, maybe don’t read this:
- Educated, middle-class liberals on soul-searching journeys
- The discussion of home fermentation and cheese making
- Gross stories about farm animals, sometimes in the house.
I, however, can deal with all of the above, and I definitely found this an enjoyable read. In addition to the stories about racist zombie alpacas, seedy goat impregnation, and addiction to baby lambs, this is also Murphy’s story about parenting, and the trials of raising a disabled son. In those sections, you see the true struggles of life on the farm. As Murphy says on the subject, “compared to that, an angry rooster was a breeze.” Murphy brews a lot of fruit wine, and inexplicably wears animal ear headbands all the time, but she also proves that she will (literally, in fact) go to the ends of the earth to give her son a fighting chance at a healthy existence.
If you want a fun, quirky look into a life that is unlike your own (unless YOU are also living on a small farm in NZ raising two kids and a score of animals, drinking quince wine and aging cheese in your garage), check out Dirty Chick.
And, the giveaway! To enter, simply leave a comment below! What’s your personal Shangri-La? We’ll randomly select the winner on 1/29!
I received a complimentary copy from the publisher for review consideration. Quotes taken from an advance uncorrected proof.
Updated with the giveaway winner on 2/1: Congrats Kristi! Your book will be in the mail shortly!
I can’t say the book is for me, but hey would love to go to NZ
I might resemble this book. My personal Shangrila is with my four hens Maisy, Daisy, Bonnie and Roylene in my backyard of aronia berries, comfrey and composting. I heard chickens are the gateway animals to goats and other exotic hobby farming addictions.
Good answer, Kristi! I like your chances for winning!
This actually sounds like something I’d love! Especially the part about her son. 😉