The Rural Diaries: Love, Livestock, and Big Life Lessons Down on Mischief Farm, by Hilarie Burton
Publication: Harper One; May 5, 2020
The beloved actress and star of One Tree Hill, White Collar, and Lethal Weapon, Hilarie Burton, tells the inspiring story of leaving Hollywood for a radically different kind of life in upstate New York with her husband Jeffrey Dean Morgan—a celebration of community, family, and the value of hard work in small-town America.
While Hilarie Burton’s hectic lifestyle as an actress in New York and Los Angeles gave her a comfortable life, it did not fulfill her spiritually or emotionally. After the birth of their first son, she and her husband Jeffrey Dean Morgan, the star of The Walking Dead, decided to make a major change: they bought a working farm in Rhinebeck, New York, and began a new chapter in their lives.
The Rural Diaries chronicles her inspiring story of farm life: chopping wood, making dandelion wine, building chicken coops. Burton looks back at her transition from urban to country living—discovering how to manage a farm while raising her son and making friends with her new neighbors. She mixes charming stories of learning to raise alpacas and buying and revitalizing the town’s beloved candy store, Samuel’s Sweet Shoppe with good friend Paul Rudd and his wife Julie, with raw observations on the ups and downs of marriage and her struggles with infertility. Burton also includes delicious recipes that can be made with fresh ingredients at home.
Burton’s charisma, wide-eyed attitude, and fortitude—both internal and physical—propels this moving story of transformation and self-discovery. The Rural Diaries honors the values and lifestyle of small-town America and offers inspiration for anyone longing to embark on their own unconventional journey.
I cannot tell you how happy I am to bring you my review of the upcoming memoir from Hilarie Burton – Love, Livestock, and Big Life Lessons Down on Mischief Farm! I had to read this one for several reasons. First, I’ve always been a huge fan of Hilarie, as well as, her uber-hotty husband. Second, it’s about farming, gardening, animals, etc. Anything with animals and growing stuff is my jam. Lastly, look at the gorgeous cover with what – you guessed it – dandelions!
Seriously, there were a million reasons why I wanted to read this and it absolutely did not disappoint. I don’t read a lot of memoirs (almost never) and if I have, I don’t recall reviewing them on my blog. It took me a minute to get into the format of this book. It’s not chronological, but rather, it switches between past and present, but also has little snippets added in whether it be a recipe or a story of an animal. I think it would be easier to understand with a physical copy and all of the pictures, but nevertheless, I was hooked from page one.
Hilarie covers every topic imaginable: acting, motherhood, thoughtful (and not so thoughtful) gifts, playing in manure as a child, making pickles, infertility, and stupid guineas. Does that sound odd? Perhaps, but she puts all of her heart and soul into the main narrative, while also throwing in DIY tips, recipes, and insider secrets about farming and animals. As I sit here writing this, I can’t recall a topic she didn’t cover.
So, what did I love about this book? Basically everything. Burton’s honesty throughout this memoir is so refreshing while at times, it’s almost painfully raw. There are no words for the admiration and respect I have for her as a writer, mother, actress, farmer, and a woman. She is loving, selfless, innovative, funny, and never gives up. Besides the wonderful story behind her words, this thing can also be used as a reference! Have a duck with a crooked neck? She may have some advice. Need a recipe for pickles? There’s a few in there. Curious about life with donkeys? She can give you some insight.
But the most important wisdom I gained from reading this: don’t give up on your dreams, do good for yourself and others, and life and love are beautifully messy.
I highly recommend this memoir that is releasing next week and I can’t wait to go back and read this one again. My only regret is not getting my hands on this sooner. There’s a very interesting and yummy-sounding recipe for Dandelion wine, but ironically, all of the millions of dandelions that covered our property the other day are gone. Then again, this gives me time to get all of my supplies together 🙂
*Many thanks to Hilarie Burton, NetGalley, & Harper One for providing this review copy in exchange for my honest opinion!