The Bucolic Plague by Josh Kilmer-Purcell – Book Review

The Bucolic Plague by Josh Kilmer-Purcell
Published by Harper Books, an imprint of Harper Collins

Josh Kilmer-Purcell, a former drag queen, and his partner Brent, the Dr. Brent of Martha Stewart fame, have a yearly apple-picking tradition. They like to escape New York City, getting far enough away that even the crowds of New Yorkers escaping to the country do not touch their weekend. On one such weekend, Josh and Brent discovered a small town upstate that looked dead but was full of wonderfully friendly people. During their reluctant trip back to the city, they stumbled upon a gorgeous old mansion on a farm.

Here’s another one for the LOVED pile! Not only did I finish “The Bucolic Plague” in a single day, I did so after sitting down with it at 7:30. I read it in a single sitting, so captivated by Kilmer-Purcell, both his story and his writing, that I didn’t put it down again until I finished sometime around midnight, and long after I had planned to go to bed. Okay, that’s not entirely true, I did have to get up to get a drink and stretch my legs once or twice, but I was always drawn immediately back to the book, to soak in life at The Beekman.

“The Bucolic Plague” had everything I look for in a memoir. First of all, there was an interesting story to be told. Two men rushing back and forth from their high-powered Manhattan jobs to their idyllic farm, trying desperately to make it work well enough that they can keep it, but with plenty of conflict and roadblocks along the way – what’s not to love? In addition, Kilmer-Purcell was both funny and honest. He didn’t shy away from talking about trying to market himself and his farm to keep it going. With their new show out, “The Fabulous Beekman Boys,” that could easily have been something that he tried to downplay, but then “The Bucolic Plague” wouldn’t have had the ring of both desperation and truth that it did. I also appreciated that he was able to look relatively objectively at his and Brett’s problems without ever seeming like he was being overly harsh on his partner. He acknowledged that they were both to blame for some of the tension between them and was remarkably even-handed in his analysis.

The chicken report: Chickens weren’t huge stars in “The Bucolic Plague,” but when they did appear, their presence stole the show. One of my favorite scenes in the entire book was the first night that Josh and Brent spent at The Beekman, when they decided to make their first meal in the house with their chickens’ eggs. Unfortunately, nobody had been collecting the eggs and they had no guarantees about how fresh any of the eggs were. And, well, you can imagine the rest (or buy the book and read it for yourself).

I absolutely adored this book, and I think that you will too. I highly recommend it.

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10 comments to The Bucolic Plague by Josh Kilmer-Purcell – Book Review

  • Frances

    I tore right through this one too! Found his voice so engaging. And love that any idealized notions of a bucolic life were even-handedly dispensed with. And loved his self-deprecating humor. Theri website is fabulous too and I plan on ordering some holiday gifts there this week. But… sad to say, I found their tv show annoying. Seemed so different than what I was expecting. A little over-produced I think.

    • Oh that is sad! We don’t get the channel they are on so I haven’t had a chance to watch it. Bummer, I was so excited about looking for the dvds when the first season is over.

  • I remember someone saying that the audio of this was excellent as well (Dawn?) but my library didn’t have it. Then I pouted. If I didn’t have about five library books on my nightstand right now, I’d order it. It goes on the “to be ordered soon” list.

  • Any book that has a person reading it in one day is a good one. I’ve heard other reviews of this one and they were all good. I’ve already added it to my list!

  • I’m going to see if my library has the audiobook. Your review has me wanting to read it soon!

  • I’ve got to get my hands on this book! I saw one of them on Martha Stewart and their story sounded fascinating.

  • I have a copy of this and will be getting to it soonish, I hope.

  • Pam

    I just heard about this the other day. Glad you liked it. I need to find a copy, I guess!

  • I have been meaning to read The Bucolic Plague — thanks for the reminder! The authors’ farm is near where I used to live, so there was a lot of local excitement when it came out. It does sound wonderful!

  • karol

    was just at your store.picked up a few things.spoke to your store manager,what a nice lady.what a beautiful country your in ..see ya at the harvest festival, in september