Farm to Fabre is a novel(la) by Dahlia Donovan.
Finished on: 15.2.2023
[I won this book in a LibraryThing Early Reviewer give-away.]
Andie has a small farm in Scotland, with not much around her but her dog Rupert. That is, until her childhood friend Doc finds his way into her guest cabin. They haven’t seen each other for a long time – not since they shared a kiss, and Doc immediately packed his bags and ran off. For years. Having him back in her life leaves Andie unsure of herself and her feelings. She still has a crush on him, but she never told him that she was asexual. And if a kiss was enough to make him run off, what would that revelation do to him, to them? But the longer he stays, the less she can imagine returning to a life without him.
Farm to Fabre is a sweet, short read. I loved that we got both autistic and asexual representation in this one, and I thought it really sweetly handled. Generally, it’s a very warm and comforting read.
It’s rare to get romance novels with ace representation, and I really liked how Donovan handled it here. Andie is sure about herself (she briefly mentions the complications of being out to some and not others, but there is never any doubt), but Doc really doesn’t know what it means for him and they start to figure things out slowly and carefully. I don’t know if Donovan is ace herself, but she certainly has a good grasp on the different experiences one can have with it.
She does mention in her bio that she is autistic, and the way Doc relates to and navigates the world also felt very well described for me. There were a couple of things I recognized about myself there (although I’ve never been officially diagnosed, I’m pretty sure I’m on the spectrum). In any case, Doc was not reduced to his autism, nor was it of no consequence to his life, so that was really nice.
But a book is more than representation, and I can honestly say that I just enjoyed reading it. Andie and Doc have a penchant for dad jokes (I couldn’t always see what they found so hysterically funny, but most of the time), and the book captures the comfort they feel with each other, the warmth between them. At times I wished for the book to spend a little more time on its story – it was really short – but there was nothing big that I missed.
Even though it is set during the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic with all its insecurities, it reads like a bit of escapist fantasy, with the farm in Scotland, Andie’s big Italian family, and their lonely, uninterrupted lives on the farm. And who doesn’t love a bit of escapism every once in a while?