Synopses & Reviews
Logan Ward and his wife, Heather, were prototypical New Yorkers circa 2000: their lives steeped in ambition, work, and stress. Feeling their souls grow numb, wanting their toddler son to see the stars at night, the Wards made a plan. They would return to their native South, find a farm, and for one year live exactly as people did in 1900 Virginia: without a car or electricity-and with only the food they could grow themselves. It was a project that would push their relationship to the brink-and illuminate stunning hardships and equally remarkable surprises.
From Logans emotionally charged battles with Belle, the family workhorse, to Heathers daily trials with a wood-fired cooking stove and a constant siege of garden pests and cantankerous animals, the Wards were soon overwhelmed by their new life. At the same time as Logan and Heather struggled with their increasingly fragile relationship, as their son relished simple joys, the couple discovered something else: within their self-imposed time warp, they had found a community, a sense of belonging, and an appreciation both for what weve lost-and what weve gained-across a century of change.
To save their marriage and their sanity, the author and his wife sold their belongings, packed up their two-year-old son, and moved to a rundown farmhouse in the country without any plans past surviving the year. Living as though it were the year 1900, they struggled with recalcitrant livestock, garden-destroying bugs, rain that would not come, and their own insecurities, to ultimately discover a sense of community and a sense of themselves that changed not only their marriage, but the entire Swoope, Virginia community. Lyrically told and powerfully evocative, this memoir for the modern age deals with the growing sense of disassociation and yearning to escape the frenetic pace of daily life in today's society.
About the Author
Logan Ward has written for many magazines, including National Geographic Adventure, Mens Journal, Popular Mechanics, Southern Accents, and Cottage Living. He lives with his wife, Heather, and their children, Luther and Eliot, in Virginias Shenandoah Valley.
Reading Group Guide
Burned out by his frantic and stressful New York City life, writer Logan Ward devised an escape from the hectic pace: he and his family would move to their native South and live on a farm—and they would live there as if it were the year 1900. Through four seasons, the Wards traded in every modern convenience and lived entirely off the land, bolstered by the kindness of their neighbors and a rare strike of luck. In See You in a Hundred Years,
Ward recounts his familys adventure: from meeting the incredulous look of the workman sent to disconnect the electricity and figuring out how to harness his ornery mare, to learning the true meaning of self-reliance and discovering the myriad joys of “the simple life.”
Publishers Weekly says of See You in a Hundred Years, “This lyrical account of keeping the 21st century at bay is more real, and more rewarding, than any survival TV show,” and the questions below are designed to assist your book groups discussion of this lively memoir.
1. What did you think of Logans plan to reinvent his familys life as that of a 1900s dirt farmer? Did you expect that his experiment would be a success? More, that he would emerge being glad he did it?
2. The book opens with two quotations, one from Wendell Berry and the other from Ian Frazier. Discuss what each means in the context of Logan Wards story. Why do you think he chose these particular quotes?
3. As much as See You in a Hundred Years is a story of an adventure, its also an intimate portrait of a marriage. How are Logan and his wife Heather alike and different? Did you think that marriage would survive all the upheaval associated with their project?
4. “Living in the wealthiest city in the wealthiest nation at the wealthiest moment in history, Heather and I should be happy. We arent,” (page 3). What do you think was at the heart of Logan and Heathers unhappiness in New York?
5. What modern convenience or object could you easily live without? What facet of modern life could you never give up?
6. The authors descriptions of life on his farm are rich and evocative, from tilling the soil in his garden and harvesting its bounty in the fall, to the life (and death) cycle of a farm. Which images or scenes stood out for you? Why?
7. Before reading See You in a Hundred Years, did you know anything about the life of a 1900s dirt farmer? What did you learn? Could you be a farmer?
8. In “Old Years Eve,” the author asks himself whether hes embarking on this adventure as a way to escape reality. What do you think? Was he running away from real life in some way?
9. If you had the opportunity to go back in time, which era would you choose to live in, and where would you go? What about the period and place you chose makes it appealing to you?
10. The Wards were living on the farm when the September 11th attacks took place. What do you think of Logans observation that the attacks “helped crystallize the importance of our 1900 project?” (page 138).
11. In “Back to the Future,” Logan poses this question to a friend: “Why should we care about the past?” (page 228) How would you answer this question?
12. Consider what Logan writes in the books afterword, as he describes his sadness about leaving the farm for good: “To survive in this world you have to leave some of the past behind.” Do you agree with this sentiment?
13. Having read See You in One Hundred Years, are you inspired to try an experiment like the Wards? What would it be?