FIVE THOUSAND DAYS LIKE THIS ONE by Jane Brox

FIVE THOUSAND DAYS LIKE THIS ONE

An American Family History
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KIRKUS REVIEW

A lovely and melancholy history of her family and its farm, a holdout in the soil-poor Northeast, from Brox (Here and Nowhere Else: Late Seasons of a Farm and Its Family, 1995). The place has 40 cleared acres, 100 in woodlot, and another dozen given over to peaches and apples—Baldwins, of course, no longer in favor despite their spicy juices. This is a typical New England farm, clasping “its small fields set off by chinked walls and the mixed woods beyond” and typical too in its poor luck, though the homestead has not nearly so bad a case of the dwindles as Brox’s father, who commits to her the family past as he lies dying. Brox shoulders her father’s mantle. Poring over his papers and walking the land, she experiences (and coaxes life from) the farm as her father must have 50 years before. She also turns caretaker of the family stories and tells with care and artistry the tale of her Lebanese grandparents, come to the Lawrence, Mass., woolen and worsted mills, there adding Arabic to the babel of languages heard over the clacking of the looms. They bought a small farm and raised cows: “Five cents a quart, three cents a pint—the first customers got all the cream—until his ladle scraped the bottom of a can and he poured the last blue milk into a mason jar.” Brox recounts all the little ways the Great War made inroads into their lives, the impossibly grim influenza pandemic of 1918, and the workers” strikes that shut the mills of Lawrence and Lowell, where “the noise in the weave rooms was loud enough to break the sleep of earth.” Unlike the mill owners, Brox plans to stay put. This is quite beautiful music, the sound of a family’s life that keeps ringing in a daughter’s ears.

Pub Date: March 10th, 1999
ISBN: 0-8070-2106-7
Page count: 208pp
Publisher: Beacon
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 1999




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