William J. Dawson explains his escape from a mundane job and existence, into the countryside where he aims to live a life that is simpler and freer of hassles.
Writing in the early 20th century, the author recounts his experience working as an office clerk in the city of London. Bored and unfulfilled by his daily life, he desires to move to the countryside and begin again in a rural setting. Dawson recounts his day to day life, his accounting job which is repetitive and allows for little creative thinking, and finally his loss of the job, which he is determined to make a blessing in disguise.
Although the author's quandaries are familiar to the modern reader familiar with the maddening hysteria of working life, William Dawson's frank explanations of the practicalities behind this vision breath life into his story. The process of finding and restoring a home in the country, of resettling his family, and of becoming used to the customs and culture of the pastoral landscape is recounted.
By the end of the book, Dawson is living a life busier than ever. Crucially however the activity is not mind-numbing, but framed with the generally tranquil atmosphere of the rural locality. He is living his life modestly and frugally, and concludes that any man with the will to live in such a way can succeed if he sets his mind at it. He makes no secret of the downsides of rural life - such as isolation and the effects of poor weather upon the narrow lanes - but is overall pleased to have departed his old existence.
The Quest of the Simple Life holds more relevance than ever today, with a growing culture of individuals seek to live a peaceful life shorn of anxieties and complexities.