On Brassard's Farm
Daniel Hecht

Book cover image

Narrated By: Lisa Flanagan

Duration: 12 hours and 30 minutes

What to expect

In a radical departure from her urban life, Ann Turner buys a piece of remote Vermont land and sets up a tent home in deep forest. She’s trying to escape an unending string of personal disasters in Boston; more, she desperately wants to leave behind a world she sees as increasingly defined by consumerism, hypocrisy, and division.

As she writes in her journal, “There’s got to be a more honest, less divided way to live.”

She soon learns she was mistaken in thinking a kindly Mother Earth would grant her wisdom and serenity in her new home. The forest confronts her with unanticipated dangers, aching loneliness, harsh weather, instinctive fears, and unsettling encounters with wild animals. It’s beautiful, yes, but life in the woods is never easy. When necessity requires her to start work as a farmhand, she quickly realizes that she held similarly childish illusions about small farms. Under the stern tutelage of Diz Brassard, the farm’s sixty-year-old matriarch, and the gentler guidance of Earnest Kelley, an Oneida Indian friend of the Brassards, she discovers what hard work really means. Ann faces her predicament with determination, but there’s a lot to learn—about the Brassard family, about dairy farming, and about herself. If she is to succeed in her new life, she must become as tough and resilient as the rural community she lives in. She must also learn to accept love—even if it arrives in the most unexpected forms.

On Brassard’s Farm is a tale of personal struggle, sweeping transformation, and romantic love. Author Daniel Hecht tells of Ann Turner’s quest for a better life with unsparing honesty and gentle humor. Through its portrayal of the unrelenting labor and harsh pragmatism of farming, On Brassard’s Farm reveals the deep durability of rural life and offers a much-needed affirmation in a changing and uncertain world.

Genre

Fiction: general and literary

Listen to a sample

“This is an intriguing mash-up of a love story and a tale of redemption…Narrator Flanagan has one of those voices you could listen to all day. She sounds down-to-earth and you can easily hear despair, longing, and exhaustion in her performance.”

Berkshire Edge

“Daniel Hecht’s story made me fall in love—with a hard land and a harder way of life, with tough women and noble men and the complex ecosystem that is the human family. In his hands, love is gritty and exhausting and the only thing powerful enough to keep us on our feet. In times of darkness, a story like this gives light, and strength, and hope.”

Laurie R. King, New York Times bestselling author of The Beekeeper's Apprentice, Folly, and twenty-five other novels

“The characters…grab you, and the farm is so well described it almost joins the cast…Narrator Flanagan has one of those voices you could listen to all day. She sounds down to earth and you can easily hear despair, longing, and exhaustion in her performance.”

Christian Science Monitor (audio review)

On Brassard’s Farm pulls from Hecht’s long affection for Vermont, the natural world, and the role of agriculture in our working landscape…[Ann] Turner’s struggle is a hard look at how the world has become difficult, hectic, and more demanding.”

Times Argus (Vermont)

“Hecht paints a picture of Ann’s life with documentary clarity, and his smooth prose is punctuated with keen observations on both humanity and the natural world….A beautifully written homage to a vanishing way of life and a moving story of love and connection.”

Library Journal (starred review)

“[A] wondrous, unique love story…There is backbreaking labor, beauty, tragedy, and joy in this story of starting life again.”

Publishers Weekly

“Readers…will be drawn into Ann’s story and learn a lot about farming along the way.”

Booklist

“Voice actor Flanagan’s solid performance adds heart to the audio edition of Hecht’s novel…Flanagan does an outstanding job.”

Publishers Weekly, audio review

“A deeply personal prose elegy on how working one’s land and tending one’s animals can transform the spirit…Hecht’s terrific capacity for natural description and personal epiphany bring this book and its characters vividly to life, and I cannot recommend it enough.”

Bill Schubart, author of Lila & Theron

“How might I persuade you to read On Brassard’s Farm? If I tell you that the words are made of breathable air, will you read it? Will you read it if I tell you that by breathing in these pages, you’ll find yourself climbing a tree in a forest past midnight knowing that your life will be forever altered if your feet touch ground again? I couldn’t put this novel down. I wish it never ended. It’s both real and visionary, old fashioned and prophetic. I’d like to sit in that tree a while longer with Annie, wondering how we got there.”

Abby Frucht, award-winning author of A Well-Made Bed and Fruit of the Month

On Brassard’s Farm kept me reading late into the night, for the pleasure of seeing the world through Ann Turner’s fine-grained consciousness. She’s as clear sighted when she looks within, ‘trying to fix what was wrong with me,’ as when she regards the stern beauty of the Vermont landscape she is trying to settle on. The grit and grace of daily life is on every page here, and watching Turner grow from someone who hopes to learn ‘a few self-sufficiency skills’ to full-fledged farmer is the kind of experience all readers search for and rarely find.”

Heidi Jon Schmidt, author of The House on Oyster Creek and The Harbormaster's Daughter

“Daniel Hecht’s On Brassard’s Farm is as deeply engaging a novel as I have ever read. The prose is rich, musical, and smart. The characters are so compelling and valiant in their struggling, and the portrait of the farm, the landscape, and the land itself is so completely alive that it will break your heart at the same time it fills you with wonder and appreciation. Hecht is a brave and resourceful writer. Again and again, I was so surprised and moved by what these characters do and say and feel that I had to get up and walk around the house to absorb what I’d learned about them. This is a book that is profoundly real and magical. I can’t recommend it strongly enough.”

David Huddle, author of Only the Little Bone, The Story of a Million Years, and The Faulkes Chronicle

On Brassard’s Farm is at once a captivating love story and a profound portrait of existential despair and personal rebirth. Ann Turner, Hecht’s unsinkable heroine, manages to flourish on the bit of granite and earth she adopts as her own, but only by coming to see herself and the farm in ways she could never have imagined. Maybe not since Frost has a writer focused so intently and lucidly on the physics of farm life, the hidden armatures of cultivation and growth. Not only are miracles possible on Brassard’s farm, but—ironically enough—Vermont’s hardscrabble landscape comes to seem uniquely designed to deliver them. Truly an eye-opening tale.”

Philip Baruth, author of Senator Leahy: A Life in Scenes

On Brassard’s Farm by Daniel Hecht has all the elements I love, rambling along in its self-awareness with nature and hard work as its guide…A great novel for those who love the land and its creatures. There are plenty of wildlife stories, people anecdotes, and farm wisdom to explore…If you’re headed into the woods, On Brassard’s Farm is entertaining fireside reading. It made my homestead yearning grow.”