The Farm in the Green Mountains
by Alice Herdan-Zuckmayer, translated from the German by Ida H. Washington and Carol E. Washington, introduction by Elisa Albert
The Farm in the Green Mountains is the story of a family finding home—halfway across the world from their homeland.
Alice Herdan-Zuckmayer and her husband, the playwright Carl Zuckmayer, lived at the heart of intellectual life in Weimar Germany, counting among their circle Stefan Zweig, Alma Mahler, and Bertolt Brecht. After Carl’s work fell afoul of the Nazis, however, the couple and their two daughters were forced to flee Europe. Los Angeles didn’t suit them and neither did New York, but then a chance stroll in the Vermont woods led them to Backwoods Farm, the eighteenth-century house where they would live for the next five years. In Europe, the Zuckmayers were accustomed to servants; in Vermont, they found themselves joyfully building chicken coops and refereeing fights between unruly ducks. Despite the endless work a new farm required and brutal winters that triggered bouts of melancholy, Alice discovered that in America she had found her “native land.” And her generous, surprising, and witty memoir, a bestseller in postwar Germany, has all the charm of a love story with a happy ending.
These literate glimpses of rural America make good stand-alone chapter reads: raising chickens, meeting reticent New England neighbors, marveling at the mysterious USDA pamphlets or the Sears, Roebuck catalog, journeying to the Dartmouth library, etc...This volume will be of special regional and historical interest as well as of general interest in public libraries where anecdotal essays are popular.
The Zuckmayers’ courage and strength is an inspiration to all who may be set in unfamiliar surroundings, even in their own country.
A historic gem...The wit, humor, adventure and insight in the book earned it ‘bestseller’ status in Europe after the Zuckmayers returned home following the war.
—Gareth Henderson, Vermont Standard
Part memoir, part diary, part fascinating account of rural life in 1940s Vermont...these are things that haven’t changed at all in the last century in Vermont...The sounds an old post-and-beam farmhouse makes when it gets cold, for instance, or the way the snowplow rattles the windowpanes at 4am....
—Emily Abroad Blog