Book Review – “The Hermit and the Woodchuck”

An Historical and Modern Satire on Gardening in New England

By Mark J. Donovan

The Hermit and the Woodchuck is a riot of a read for those of you who have had vegetable gardens and bad experiences with woodchucks. As most gardeners and farmers know, woodchucks can wreak major havoc in a garden and they are difficult to get rid of. This book narrates the stories of two characters, an old time hermit and a modern day “gentleman’s farmer”, who struggle to rid their gardens of this pesky animal.

The Hermit and the Woodchuck is a satire on both historical and modern gardening in New Hampshire. The first half of the book discusses gardening in New Hampshire back in the 1800’s, and the second half focuses on the present day and the gentleman’s farmer.

Both sections of the book deal with a woodchuck that “befriends” a man who maintains a garden in southern New Hampshire. In each case the man converses with the woodchuck and they share experiences and ideas on gardening and life.

The symbiotic relationship the two strike up in both time periods may seem a little odd, however their discussions on life and learning to live with each other is something useful for all readers.

The book is a short story that is an easy read. It is hilarious at many points, particularly with the comic actions the gentleman farmer takes to protect his garden from the persistent woodchuck and his family.

From an historical and political perspective, the story is interlaced with snippets of history and political undercurrents associated with northern New England.

Though “The Hermit and the Woodchuck” takes place in southern New Hampshire, any gardener who has ever experienced a woodchuck’s wrath will find this book a comical read, with a touch of truisms.

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