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Country Matters: The Pleasures and Tribulations of Moving from a Big City to an Old Country Farmhouse

Korda, Michael

244 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0060197722 / ISBN 13: 9780060197728
Published by HarperCollins Publishers, New York, 2001
Used Condition: As New Hardcover
From Jaystime (Salem, OR, U.S.A.)

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About this Item

2001 As New Book, As New price clipped jacket, Stated First Edition, First Printing 10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1 303 clean tight unmarked deckled pages, Small b/w illustrations at each chapter start, tan end pages, book has black boards with 1/4 brown cloth covered spine, gilt lettering and lines on the spine, jacket is tan poly lined paper with several brown illustrations on the front, spine and back jacket. Bookseller Inventory # 004452

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Country Matters: The Pleasures and ...

Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers, New York

Publication Date: 2001

Binding: Hardcover

Illustrator: Korda, Michael

Book Condition: As New

Dust Jacket Condition: Fine

Edition: 1st Edition

About this title


With his inimitable sense of humor and storytelling talent, New York Times bestselling author Michael Korda brings us this charming, hilarious, self-deprecating memoir of a city couple's new life in the country.

At once entertaining, canny, and moving, Country Matters does for Dutchess County, New York, what Under the Tuscan Sun did for Tuscany. This witty memoir, replete with Korda's own line drawings, reads like a novel, as it chronicles the author's transformation from city slicker to full-time country gentleman, complete with tractors, horses, and a leaking roof.

When he decides to take up residence in an eighteenth-century farmhouse in Dutchess County, ninety miles north of New York City, Korda discovers what country life is really like:

  • Owning pigs, more than owning horses, even more than owning the actual house, firmly anchored the Kordas as residents in the eyes of their Pleasant Valley neighbors.
  • You may own your land, but without concertina barbed wire, or the 82nd Airborne on patrol, it's impossible to keep people off it!
  • It's possible to line up major household repairs over a tuna melt sandwich.
  • And everyone in the area is fully aware that Michael "don't know shit about septics."

The locals are not particularly quick to accept these outsiders, and the couple's earliest interactions with their new neighbors provide constant entertainment, particularly when the Kordas discover that hunting season is a year-round event -- right on their own land! From their closest neighbors, mostly dairy farmers, to their unforgettable caretaker Harold Roe -- whose motto regarding the local flora is "Whack it all back! " -- the residents of Pleasant Valley eventually come to realize that the Kordas are more than mere weekenders.

Sure to have readers in stitches, this is a book that has universal appeal for all who have ever dreamed of owning that perfect little place to escape to up in the country, or, more boldly, have done it.


Despite the fact that Michael Korda was city born and bred (and, as editor in chief of Simon & Schuster and a bestselling author, part of Manhattan's elite), when he decided it was time to put down roots, he wanted land, trees, and a place in a community with history. The house he bought with his wife, Margaret, in Pleasant Valley, two hours north of New York City, was built when George Washington was president. It came with two barns, 20 acres, a backhoe, a bush hog, a York rake, a dozer blade, a bluff, and a slightly deaf old man named Harold Roe. Since Korda couldn't handle a hammer (plumbing and heating problems in his past merely involved calling the building super and keeping a 20-dollar bill handy), Harold became a permanent fixture, wielding large equipment, destroying the flowers, and showing the couple everything they needed to know about the real country.

Pleasant Valley, it turned out, was on the "wrong" side of the Taconic Parkway. It was "red and black plaid hats with earflaps and insulated bib-front overalls country," as opposed to Ralph Lauren estates country. Despite the blue-collar atmosphere (or rather because of it), the Kordas have been there for two decades. Becoming locals hasn't been easy, however. Korda relishes the moments that mark him as an insider--hanging out at the local diner, buying a Harley-Davidson, and most importantly, buying pigs. Pig watching in a place like Pleasant Valley is a truly bonding experience, which Korda describes with his characteristic dry wit:

Pig watching is not something anybody does in a hurry, as we came to learn. You have to shift your trousers down a bit, loosen up your belt a notch or so, give your belly a little breathing room, light a cigarette if you're a smoker, and look at the pigs for a good long time. Then you sigh, nod your head, and say, "Them's nice pigs, them pigs." Then you look at them some more.
You get the idea. A natural raconteur, Korda makes the quirks of living in an old house and the quest for local status in an insular community highly entertaining, and he proves once again that, while he may not be handy with tools, he certainly knows his way around the written word. --Lesley Reed

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