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Review of The Cow Book by Donagh Hurley

The Cow Book by Donagh Hurley is a novel about life on a small rural farm. John Connell grew up on a farm. He was always interested in science and the environment, so it was natural that he would turn to writing about them. Indeed, farming has always been part of his family tradition, though he never planned to follow in his father’s path.

Until one cold winter, though, he gets out of the house and starts to learn about the business of the dairy farmer and the cattle rancher who run the show. One cow in particular stands out: Milkglass. She is unique, the sort of animal whose lustrous white milk is the stuff of legends. This fascination with the creature leads Connell on an odyssey across the country-and into Texas-in search of Milkglass herself. In the process, he unearths a wealth of information about life on a dairy farm, and he tells his tale in the new book, The Cows Who Came To The Farm.

PLOT: The Cow Book

The Cows Who Came To The Farm tells the story of a young Irish farmhand named Jack Strachan. A bit mechanically-minded and somewhat illiterate, he meets with a travelling band that includes a bulldog named Milkglass and becomes the men’s guide, leading them from farm to farm, county to county. From his perch on the Bulldog’s back, Milkglass sees much and hears little. Soon, though, he learns that life on a farm means working long hours, long days, and cold nights. Working conditions are harsh in Ireland, where the majority of people live off small alfalfa farms and other small holdings that produce food for the towns. With his new friends, Jack realizes that learning to work with both animals and men can make him a better person.

Story: The Cow Book

What makes The Cow Book a unique reading is the way it depicts Jack Strachan’s character, a character with a surprising depth. Although strumming out the same tune each time, he seems to be more layered than he was in the earlier books. He meets with characters on his travels, including a young girl who lives on a milkmaid farm, and he makes friends with a local sheriff. Then, when the family farm is stolen, and the sheriff is killed during a cattle show, Jack takes the entire family on the run. As they fight their way through the wilds of Ireland and the west, they learn about the complicated relationship between man and beast, and how even the most idyllic of places can be haunted by the terrors of the unknown.

Why Should You Read The Cow Book?

One of the great things about The Cow Book is that author Paul Kersey has chosen to include some very touching stories about the people who became his characters. In one section, the mother of one of the cow characters named Dumon Tak (Evelyn Gardner) is visited in her home by a spirit who takes her daughter away to join the other cows in death. When she attempts to visit the ghost in question again, she finds it has transformed into a muscular, rough-looking young man. This man begs her not to leave, but Evelyn cannot bring herself to leave her daughter behind. It is then that she learns that the owner of the cow farm was once an enemy of theirs who had helped to butcher a whole field full of their cows in order to use the meat for fertilizer.

The Calving Season

In another story, titled “The Calving Season,” a sheriff’s deputy arrives on a piece of farm land with a broken down cattle van. Apparently, the driver and the passengers inside have been brutally murdered by a gang of youths. As the investigation continues, the police discover that the driver and the others were brutally murdered as well. On a subsequent search of the surrounding area, the police discover that the teenagers who committed the crime were in the area on a routine cattle drive. The book ends with a chilling scene of the headless horse, hanging by a noose from a tree in the middle of the road.

One Winter is also set on the fictitious River Corrib in rural Ireland where Corrib is located. One winter’s night, a young woman named Fern Heeren goes out to a local pub to have some fun with her friends, when she gets waylaid by a group of men who appear to be drunk. Her friend Boadhagh appears at the bar to get her back to the group, but they are quickly overpowered by the aggressive innkeeper. Boadhagh is thrown out and taken to an old, dilapidated house where she is locked in a cupboard. One of the men who had come to the bar with Fern attempts to slip out of the locked cupboard and escape through the window, but he is quickly apprehended by the guards outside who have been waiting outside for the men to arrive.

The novel has the potential for being a wonderful, mature reading experience for those who enjoy the suspense and surprise of a modern-day story, as The Cow Book takes the reader into the idyllic Irish countryside where dairy farming is still quite common and a strong cultural presence exists. However, the writing style is not for everyone, as it can be slow and monotonous at times. In one scene, it seems as if the writer wanted to include a scene from a North American movie that never made it to the big screen. Although this does not affect the overall quality of the novel, it is wise to think before buying this book, as there are stories that are more worthy of your time. For lovers of the cow book and farmers who would like to experience a little bit of the Wild West, then The Cow Book may be just what you are looking for.

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