The Rural Diaries by Hilarie Burton Morgan | Non-Fiction Book Review


Hilarie Burton Morgan may be best known for her role as Peyton Sawyer in OTH, but after finishing her memoir she is now known to me as That Woman I Really Want To Befriend. This book has been on my TBR since the moment it got released but as with all books written by celebrities, I was dubious and asking myself: 

1) Is it ghost written? 

2) If it's not, can they even write?

3) Is this just a money grab?

I was an idiot. This memoir was incredibly inspiring, and vividly descriptive. I could smell the dandelions she plucked, would hear the sounds of coyotes, and felt bone-deep exhaustion with her. Burton's writing has such depth to it that I felt everything. The joys, the pains, and the lows. I've read fiction books by award winning authors that didn't come near to the experience of reading The Rural Diaries. There is a beauty woven into Burton's writing that transforms this memoir into a book that I instantly wanted to reread. 

Deciding to pack up their LA lifestyle and move somewhere more remote, Hilarie Burton Morgan and Jeffery Dean Morgan went against the norm for Hollywood couples and chose to live their married life away from the chaos that fame can bring. In this book, we follow their love story that came from a blind date that changed both their lives and resulted in them deciding to have a baby within months of meeting. Spending 50% of their time living in a tiny cabin in a remote town was enough for a few years, but they eventually decided to take the plunge and move there indefinitely. Buying a beat-up old farmhouse and learning the ways of farm life was the adventure they had both always wanted. Growing their own food, finding family in the locals, and watching their son grow up in a house where ducklings live in the bath felt like a distant dream until they made it their reality. 

I wasn't expecting The Rural Diaries to discuss heavy topics such as miscarriages, depression, and marital problems. I'm awed at how honest Burton continued to be throughout the 350 pages. This never felt like a money grab, there was hardly any discussion on her career, or "behind the scenes" gossip. It never strayed from being a book about, well, love - romantic love, family love, and finding things that'll make you love life.

In this, Burton mainly takes us through her adulthood, which I really liked. I'm always iffy on the childhood sections of memoirs as it's usually the most uninteresting part (Unless we're talking about Educated by Tara Westover in which, yeah, that'll keep you turning the pages). Burton wove her childhood stories throughout the sections about her marriage, becoming a mother, and farm life which made for a lovely reading experience as it felt more like reminiscing especially as by that point, we were already familiar with the people she spoke about. This entire book read more like showing rather than telling, which is no easy feat when it comes to non-fiction. I already knew from Burton's Instagram that her heart was as bright as freshly blossomed sunflowers, but I didn't know just how inspiring she was as a person. At multiple points throughout this book I had to take a second to just sit there and appreciate that there are still people like this in the world. 

In conclusion, I would recommend this book to you even if you're unfamiliar with the actresses work as she proved beyond a shadow of doubt that she is much more than the characters she portrays on screen. This is a wholesome novel about a couple deciding to live more remotely and learning all the tips and tricks to farm life, growing your own food, taking care of non-household pets, and most importantly, how to work together. You will learn, you will cry, you will smile. And I guarantee you'll turn the last face with a spark of joy in your heart. And you will most definitely debate whether to start gardening.

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