Meadows & Manure: Coggerton
A tale about the dark side of rural life
The first clue is the name - "Coggerton." Of all the names for towns a fiction writer can pick, why clunky Coggerton? Cassie Atwood, as smart as she is, should have known that moving to a town with a name like Coggerton wouldn't work out. And, spoiler alert, it doesn't.
But Cassie had romantic notions about living the "good life in the hills of New Hampshire" among the "healthy, wholesome farm folk," her son "running through fields of buttercups."
It's not long after the first whiff of manure, wafting in from nearby places like Hog Holler, that Cassie starts to think the move from the city might have been a mistake. Cultured and educated, a quoter of Milton and Poe, she struggles not to be a "snob" - someone who, as her friend Sally says, "thinks they're better'n the rest of us."
Gradually author Jane Wingate reveals the darker side of life in Coggerton and Cassie's alienation in its midst. She doesn't understand the lack of consideration for neighbors - whether it's barking dogs or putting double-wide trailers on land right next to hers.
Writ large, Cassie's conflict is age-old – individual rights versus a concern for the common good. Who's right and who's wrong Wingate doesn't say, but it's easy to read between the lines.
The characters in the book are nicely drawn and the narrative is made rich by Wingate's you-feel-like-you're-there details.