The Farmer's Son: Book summary and reviews of The Farmer's Son by John Connell

The Farmer's Son

Calving Season on a Family Farm

by John Connell

The Farmer's Son by John Connell X
The Farmer's Son by John Connell
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  • Published in USA  May 2019
    256 pages
    Genre: Biography/Memoir

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Book Summary

For fans of The Shepherd's Life, a poignant memoir—and #1 Irish bestseller—about a wayward son's return home to his family's farm, and how he found a new beginning in an age-old world.

Farming has been in John Connell's family for generations, but he never intended to follow in his father's footsteps. Until, one winter, after more than a decade away, he finds himself back on the farm.

Connell records the hypnotic rhythm of the farming day—cleaning the barns, caring for the herd, tending to sickly lambs, helping the cows give birth. Alongside the routine events, there are the unforeseen moments when things go wrong: when a calf fails to thrive, when a sheep goes missing, when illness breaks out, when an argument between father and son erupts and things are said that cannot be unsaid.

The Farmer's Son is the story of a calving season, and the story of a man who emerges from depression to find hope in the place he least expected to find it. It is the story of Connell's life as a farmer, and of his relationship with the community of County Longford, with his faith, with the animals he tends, and, above all, with his father.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

A deeply felt, unforgettable story that will linger in readers' imaginations." - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

This gem is compelling reading, much more relevant in many areas than it might seem. For all readers, especially those interested in farming and rural life." - Library Journal (starred review)

"A beautifully written memoir of the challenges faced when returning home." - Publishers Weekly

"One of the most striking features of [The Farmer's Son] is that, although John Connell is describing years-old farming practices, it feels as though you are reading about them for the first time. Connell's vivid writing brings his subject matter to life and makes the reader feel connected to the birth and death cycles on a typical farm ... There is much to praise here, from the way the author writes about the animals in his care, to his openness about depression and intelligent reflections on the state of modern farming. A natural writer, Connell is also a sympathetic and wise observer of the eternal struggle involving humans and animals." - Sunday Times (UK)

"Connell's moving memoir tracks his life on the family farm, his fights with his father, and charts humanity's long relationship with cattle ... This is a brooding, powerful memoir about a twenty-nine-year-old man's return to the family farm in Ireland and his difficult relationship with his taciturn and short-tempered father." - Guardian (UK)

"Admirably raw and unsentimental ... An original and thought-provoking book." - Mail on Sunday (UK)

"One of the joys of this book is the prose, its clean plainness offset by the glorious cadences of Irish speech ... Surely a prize winner." - Daily Mail (UK)

"An honest, vivid reckoning of what it's like to simultaneously belong and not belong, [The Farmer's Son] becomes John Connell's meditation on the real meaning of home and place." - Irish Times (Ireland)

"In the spaces between its passages of intimate pastoral meditation, [The Farmer's Son]'s historical examination of our deep relationship with our bovine friends reads like a history of conflict, both with and over these important creatures." - Independent (Ireland)

"A compelling portrait of life on a farm, one that may be alien to many but which Connell brings to life with vivid, unsentimental brush strokes ... Connell stakes his claim with a book of beauty, warmth and empathy that is a memorable guide not only to life on a small Irish farm but also on how to live life itself." - RTÉ Guide (Ireland)

"This book is a vivid and sharply observed account of a way of life which is almost invisible, a new hidden Ireland. It is also a fascinating portrait of a single sensibility, a born noticer, someone on whom nothing is lost, observing birth and death, the landscape, and his own heritage." - Colm Tóibín, author of Brooklyn and Nora Webster

"I usually view rural Ireland from a train or car window, but reading this gripping, fascinating book I felt I was becoming a cattle farmer." - Roddy Doyle

"John Connell writes about the connection between people and land in a way that goes beyond mere affection. For him, farming is hard graft and yet a spiritual process too that binds him to family, nationhood, language and myth." - Andrew Michael Hurley, author of Devil's Day and The Loney

"A beautiful book. The author's voice is as honest and tender as his eye is clear and sharp. The apparent simplicity of its subject matter belies the poetic power of the writing. This poignant book is about family, about our ties to the land, and about the cycles of life and death that mark our days." - Zia Haider Rahman

"John Connell's The Farmer's Son starts well ... and gets better. This is an important slice of living, breathing agricultural history, written with absolute honesty by an insider who has the rare quality of being able to see it from the outside too." - Rosamund Young, author of The Secret Life of Cows

"A gorgeous read, full of warmth, truth and tentative wonder. John Connell has written "an elegy to the nature I know," but this book is an elegy to so much more—to art and myth and sorrow and longing." - Sara Baume, author of Spill Simmer Falter Wither

The information about The Farmer's Son shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's online-magazine that keeps our members abreast of notable and high-profile books publishing in the coming weeks. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author of this book and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

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Author Information

John Connell

John Connell's work has been published in Granta's New Irish Writing. The Farmer's Son is his debut. He lives on his family farm in County Longford, Ireland.

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