When Maisie Peterson leaves university in 1976 without a job to go to, she decides to help her mother save her large and impractical country property in the wilds of rural Dorset by trying her hand at self-sufficiency. Ma is just a tad eccentric, though, and Maisie has no clue about farming. Her efforts are thwarted at quite a few turns by a flock of willful sheep, a dotty aunt, a charming but ineffective boyfriend and a swarthy, but highly desirably agricultural auctioneer. Emily, the ewe, runs rings round her while Ma drifts in and out of the scene in an ancient wedding dress, causing havoc in Maisie's attempts to sort out her personal as well as her agricultural problems.
You will cry reading this book, with laughter. Maisie is trying to be self sufficient and save her mum's house and small holding from the bank but the only help she seems to have is her eccentric mother who is only a help in very short spurts and an elderly aunt who although very sweet is not capable of the kind of help Maisie needs. Help does come, in the shape of an old friend Jeanie who's parents own nearby riding stables. Jeanie manages to keep Maisie right about the do's and don'ts of life on a smallholding.
The laughs are plenty, from her mother walking about in an old wedding dress to Maisie transporting sheep in the back of her car.
Maisie's eyes stray to a handsome auctioneer but something always happens to make her look silly in front of him and she's determined to make him see that she knows what she's doing (she doesn't.)
So will Maisie leave the lazy Simon? Will she make the small holding profitable? and will she ever keep the sheep from wandering into other people's garden?
I loved the cover of this book it must have been drawn by someone with a great sense of humour. I am told by the author that although the story is fiction most of the incidents regarding the animals are true and happened to her which just makes the book a whole lot better.
I think it's harder to write a book that makes people laugh, it's easier to make them cry. Valerie Poore will make you laugh. Another part of the book I really enjoyed was Maisie's acceptance of her mother's eccentricity and the mother and daughter love.
It's a long time since I laughed so much at a book so I'm giving How to Breed Sheep and English Eccentrics five stars.