The Farm in the Green Mountains is a story of a refugee family finding its true home—thousands of miles from its homeland.
Alice and Carl Zuckmayer lived at the center of Weimar era Berlin. She was a former actor turned medical student, he was a playwright, and their circle of friends included Stefan Zweig, Alma Mahler, and Bertolt Brecht. But then the Nazis took over and Carl’s most recent success, a play satirizing German militarism, impressed them in all the wrong ways. The couple and their two daughters were forced to flee, first to Austria, then to Switzerland, and finally to the United States. Los Angeles didn’t suit them, neither did New York, but a chance stroll in the Vermont woods led them to Backwoods Farm and the eighteenth-century farmhouse where they would spend the next five years. In Europe, the Zuckmayers were accustomed to servants; in Vermont, they found themselves building chicken coops, refereeing fights between fractious ducks, and caring for temperamental water pipes “like babies.” But in spite of the endless work and the brutal, depressing winters, Alice found that in America she had at last discovered her “native land.” This generous, surprising, and witty memoir, a best seller in postwar Germany, has all the charm of an unlikely romantic comedy.
A bestseller in West Germany since it was first published in 1949 (with 400,000 copies sold), this book grew out of the many letters sent by the author to her husband's parents about their life in the U.S. Carl Zuckmayer (a successful playwright in Europe) and his wife, Alice, had fled the Nazis in 1939, moving at first to California, and eventually to Vermont's Green Mountains. In a charming and heartwarming way, she recalls their struggle to live in northern New England, where, as she puts it, "the winters are long and unimaginably cold.'' At first the pair felt isolated (the first snowfall coincides with the news of the U.S. declaration of war against Nazi Germany), but the installation of telephone service puts them in touch with their neighbors. The Zuckmayers' courage and strength is an inspiration to all who may be set in unfamiliar surroundings, even in their own country.