Daffodil Hill: Uprooting My Life, Buying a Farm, and Learning to Bloom

Image of Daffodil Hill: Uprooting My Life, Buying a Farm, and Learning to Bloom
Release Date: 
June 7, 2022
The Dial Press
Reviewed by: 

“A must-read that will have readers laughing, crying, and shopping for chickens.”

In Daffodil Hill, debut memoirist Jake Keiser delivers a delightful escape into her wonderfully colorful farm life. This unlikely story delivers all the feels, but beware! She makes you want to buy a Prada bag just to let a baby chick sleep in it.

While showcasing that special kind of laugh-out-loud crazy that only a Gucci-wearing farm girl could brew, Kaiser casts a lovely light on her rural Mississippi community and explores the perils of a middle-aged single woman trying to break free of all that has kept her caged for too long.

Readers will be cheering to see her growing menagerie of animals help her transition from broken to bad@ss. Not to mention the hilarious escapades of a beautiful woman making her way into the dating scene of the small-town south. Women will relate to so many scenes in this powerful story, especially with poignant confessions in chapters like “Lock Up Your Husbands” (in which the married women of town stand guard over their men) and “The Flower of Lies” (in which Keiser receives a delivery of “apology” roses that carry a sting.

She doesn’t shy away from the painful pieces of a woman’s journey, from breakups to miscarriages to loneliness and fears, but she keeps us turning the pages through every emotional peak and plummet, and with each pulse point, we become more determined to see her through from trauma to triumph.

This story is told in such a beautiful, natural way, luring us with the fantasy of running off to a farm. Keiser also builds a loveable cast of characters who show up to offer advice—or food, or comfort (in one form or another). Whether the local farmers or the college students sent to clock community service hours (usually as penance for a misdemeanor), she brings these locals to life on the page and builds compassion for one and all.

In one scene, Keiser describes a moment while watching some newly rescued geese find their way to a pond for their first taste of freedom:

“None of us spoke. These creatures, who had never seen water before, instinctively knew this pond was their home. Just one hour prior, they had been landlocked animals. Then, after enduring a traumatic event, they were delivered into the life they were born to live. I couldn’t help but hope the same would happen to me.”

And that’s what readers hope too, as we watch her abandon her materialistic life of superficial luxuries in “see-and-be-seen” Tampa Bay for a more meaningful, authentic experience on the farm.

But just as she brings us to tears over a particularly painful grief in her life, she’ll bring us back to laughter with a hilarious showdown on the farm, like this one with her goat:

“Valentino reared up and launched himself through the screen door with the power of the space shuttle. My fingers still wrapped around his collar, I went with him. Before I knew it, my feet left the ground with a force of jet propulsion and my life flashed before my eyes.”

Of course there’s always a deeper theme being woven through even the most light-hearted moments of the story. As with the rocket launch through the screen door, Keiser brings it back around to symbolize her transformational journey, using the mishap as a way to learn her greatest life lesson: “JUST LET GO!”

Ultimately, that’s exactly what Keiser has to do—let go of what she’d always thought life was supposed to look like to fully embrace the life she has been given. And she’ll need to do so with an open and grateful spirit.

But first she might just have to lose her mind to find her heart.

Bottom line: A must-read that will have readers laughing, crying, and shopping for chickens.