This critique is common enough but a bit wrong-headed in my opinion:
The dissonance with Berry occurs when I consider other family tales buried under the agrarian beauty. These are stories of shattered relationships, addiction, job loss, abandonment, mental illness, and unspoken violations that seem to separate my kinfolk from the clans in Port William. In Berry’s fictional village, readers occasionally witness felonies, infidelity, drunken brawls, and tragic deaths, but all of them seem to be told in a dusky, warming light.
The pleasure I experience reading a novel set in idyllic Port William, before war, agribusiness, and corporate industrialism pillage the town, turns quickly from a nostalgic glow to an ugly flame. I agree with the author’s animosity toward institutional and human greed, but I’m troubled by the apparent evils he chooses to overlook. Berry seems to cast mercy on certain kinds of frailties and judgment on others. As a loyal reader, this double standard agitates me: I become a mad reader of the Mad Farmer.
I’ll have more extended thoughts on why it’s badly stated next week when I’m back to my normal schedule on the main page.