A Memoir: The Rural Diaries: Love, Livestock, and Big Life Lessons Down on Mischief Farm by Hilarie Burton Morgan

I have a love affair with Hilarie Burton Morgan. She just doesn’t know about it. I developed a total girl crush on Hilarie when I was a teenager watching One Tree Hill, where she played Peyton Sawyer. Aside from the nearly being kidnapped, in a school shooting and all sorts of dramatic things that happened to her character, Peyton was the character that I truly felt a connection with. The character was moody and tortured, and had a total chip on her shoulder. I’ve been considering going back and watching One Tree Hill, but in the days of the Me-Too movement, I don’t know how I feel about it, knowing what we know now.

A few years ago, my husband and I sat and watched White Collar, another of Hilarie’s brilliant pieces of work. I loved it. We burned through it in a month, and then had a gaping hole in our lives. Most recently I have been following her on Insta. Following her on Insta leaves me feeling like I’m still cool. Don’t get me started on Twitter. I’m cool, just not that cool.

For the last eighteen months, I have been struggling with who I am and what my place is in the world. I was lucky enough to meet my husband at 16, and we finally got together at 24, and I love that man to pieces. For the last few years we have been living in a small city here in Australia, and I felt like I had found my place in the world, which is a big deal for someone who would honestly say when asked where am I from, that I am from all over and don’t feel like anywhere is ‘home’. Then to our utter despair, my husband’s job transferred him to the biggest city in Australia.  We have no children, and likely won’t ever have children, and we are at the age where people around us have all done that, so I can assure you, dear reader, that it was with some trepidation that I started this book. It’s a total failure on my part, but I was judgemental. Probably something about “what could I possibly find in this book to relate to”. She’s an actress, with an actor husband, who owns a farm and a sweet shop and has gorgeous children and what seems to be a menagerie of animals.

And in many ways, I can’t personally relate to Hilarie’s life, because that is her life, not mine. But honestly, I did so love reading about her beautiful world. Getting the book was a right pain in the ass, living over this side of the world. Amazon was being a bitch and not selling it in Australia, I have placed an order for a signed copy from Hilarie’s local bookstore, but I knew I wanted to read it before then. So last night, at about 11 pm, I worked out how to change my region and downloaded the e-book of the Rural Diaries.

Let me also tell you, dear reader, and I did not expect this book to be so raw and unfiltered and honest. Hilarie is sharing her life with us as readers, and reading about her community and town made me laugh out loud, and even cry. I was excited with Hilarie and Jeffrey when I got to the part of the book where they found their cabin or their farm. I never met Ira from Samuel’s sweet shop, but his passing brought a tear to my eye. Because of everyone who did love him. Hilarie’s brutal candour when letting us glimpse her marriage, both the good and the bad, is real and uplifting, while at moments, soul-crushing.  This book is the best book I have read in quite some time, and most importantly, even if it is just for tonight, it left me feeling like I had found a piece of home.

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