Liberty Farm

A Family Portrait

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Pub Date May 20 2021 | Archive Date Jul 31 2020


Set in the semi-arid backlands of northeastern Brazil and spanning one century and three generations, this family saga is a complex psychological portrait of family life, intertwined with Brazil’s history from the birth of the republic to the end of the military dictatorship in 1989.

Liberty Farm is a chronicle of family and society, history and geography, life and death, loyalty and justice, truth and connivance. It’s also a tale of paternal and filial love in all of its forms: strongly felt, unreciprocated, withheld, yearned for, never obtained. “Father, please look at me...”

The death of the favorite son creates a love black hole that sucks away the father’s entire love. Invisible like the ones in the sky, this love black hole will rule the family for decades, its existence only revealed by the odd behavior of the three older sons. “The family must always stay together...”

Set in the semi-arid backlands of northeastern Brazil and spanning one century and three generations, this family saga is a complex psychological portrait of family life, intertwined with Brazil’s...

A Note From the Publisher

ISBN 978-3982165608 — Hardcover (black & white photographs) /
ISBN 978-3982165639 — Softcover (black & white photographs) /
ISBN 978-3982165622 — Ebook (color photographs)

ISBN 978-3982165608 — Hardcover (black & white photographs) /
ISBN 978-3982165639 — Softcover (black & white photographs) /
ISBN 978-3982165622 — Ebook (color photographs)

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ISBN 9783982165622

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Featured Reviews

Liberty Farm: A Family Portrait – Izai Amorim

Izai Amorim’s Liberty Farm is a mirror of family dynamics, historical change, and the socioeconomic (r)evolution which gripped Brazil between 1898 and 1989. It is a grand endeavour, ambitious like the Almeida family fortunes. At the heart of all great events, Amorim seems to tell us, stands passion – selfish, blind, and destructive – disguised as love: Ezra’s love for the dead Nelson, for the farm, for the Sertão da Resaca; Esra Duarte’s love for recognition, for money; even Ezra Neto’s love for adventure.

‘Liberty Farm’ is founded as the Romantic dream of man in nature (by the poor yet educated Juliano), only to quickly succumb to the power of money and commerce (of the rich although illiterate Ezra). A line is drawn that will tear the Almeida family apart from that point forward, between the ones wanting to leave, and those wanting to stay; the ones blinded by the wish to be loved by their father, and the resentment of those aware such love is unattainable; the ones driven by emotion, and the ones driven by greed. Even as the generations come and go, their interactions, as well as their responses to the outside influences of politics, medicine, market shifts, and so forth, all are invariably fed by this internalised struggle. Concomitantly, the reader witnesses the changes affecting Brazil, and by extension the world, through the lens of these concentric dichotomies.

Who would enjoy this
As a fictionalised narrative based on true events (or so it claims), and with its extensive inclusion of historical data, Liberty Farm is a good choice for those who love historical sagas. I have certainly learned a lot about Brazil, without feeling overwhelmed by an onslaught of information.

Additionally, this is recommended for those who like emotional drama. In many ways, the intricacies of the tale reminds me of those in soap operas. It is an interesting insight into Brazilian (as much as one can extrapolate from a fictional representation) mores and beliefs, along with their consequences. Readers who enjoy this kind of literature will definitely have a good experience with this volume so long they don’t expect the characters to be likable. Like in life, no-one is free of sin – pride, envy, greed, sloth, lust, gluttony and wrath are all present, in all of the Almeidas, to some measure. And Ezra’s self-important, God-like attitude over his family shines above all.

Who should give this a pass
As in most cases, if the reader does not feel tempted by the section above, they will probably not enjoy this book. Despite its borrowing from the novela-verdade (true-life soap opera) genre popular on television, Liberty Farm is much more than mere prurient entertainment. Thus, I wouldn’t suggest it for light reading.

On the other hand, I wouldn’t suggest it for readers who want clear-cut history or have strong opinions on most modern concerns. The author’s views on certain subjects, such as ecology, gender, capitalism, or religiosity, come through often enough to make some of that information slightly suspect. As a result, it may trigger certain groups, who would better pick up other tomes instead.

Conclusions and suggestions
This is a far-reaching, self-managed project by the author, and I was very pleasantly surprised by it. The story is well built, and the use of the historical snippets add to, rather than distract from it. It is obvious that this has long been a labour of love, with great attention to detail. Amorim has also created a story dynamic enough, yet focused enough, to hold the readers’ interest, despite the abundance of people and events.

That said, the story could do with some trimming, as there is a marked imbalance in the presence of certain characters, and that of their siblings, for example. Such tilt gives the impression that the author had much more to tell, but chose to cut the younger siblings’ stories short to limit length to one tome. This, in principle, is a very good idea. However, they should have either been edited completely out, or their follow-up be hinted at in possible subsequent volumes. These characters, such as Marcos or Nelson Dois, have too much detail in their story to blend into the background.

Again, this is an excellent effort by Izai Amorim. Liberty Farm delivers a good story, strong characters, as well as information to tickle the mind. I would expect good things in future, while hoping he tightens his narrative slightly more.

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If readers are interested in learning about the intricacies a new culture, the long list of characters at the beginning of this novel will not intimidate them. Izai Amorim's novel, a family saga of over one hundred years and three generations is set in the back lands of Brazil, and is both a great reading experience and a great learning experience.
Anchoring the novel is the touch of magical realism, "a love black hole," and the minimalist writing style echos that of Cather and Hemingway.
This intricate family tale is inextricably tied to current events occurring in Brazil and around the world, while the belief running throughout this novel is plain: "family is everything."

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(I want to thank NetGalley and the author for this ARC, which I received in exchange for an honest review.)

This book simultaneously tells the story of Brazil and the story of the Almeida family from 1889 to 1989. The book follows the patriarch Ezra De Souza Almeida, a little boy who was born during a terrible drought in an impoverished area in Brazil, and who grew up to be a strong and determined man who had a great talent for business but was emotionally unavailable for her wife and children. The book first focuses on Ezra and his attachment to the land, hard work, and the idea of family, but then it also explores his wife's and children's lives and how they are affected by this man that is the center of their home. It shows in a deep and moving way the consequences of Ezra's children's life choices as they try to get his father's attention and love. This story about three generations and their conflicts makes the reader wonder, beyond obligations and the discourses around the importance of family, what does family really mean?

What I liked: I enjoyed this book tremendously. It is written in a very simple style with little descriptions of settings, characters, or voice tones and body language during dialogues, but I actually found it pleasant because it allowed the story to contain a lot of situations, characters, and information without being slow or hard to read. It also gives the reader enough freedom to imagine the characters and settings, so it felt more personal to me. It was great that I could learn a lot about Brazil as well. The author tried to explain major national events in a couple of paragraphs, so it was easy to understand the context of the story and how it affected the family. However, the best part of the book is how Amorim explores the complexity of family relationships. Through the conflicts in Ezra's marriage, the expectations followed by bitterness and disappointment that he felt after the birth of their children, his intentions to control their lives as they grew up, the power struggles that rose as Ezra's children became teenagers and adults, and the consequences of their childhood in their new families, the author tells a wonderful story about sorrow, loyalty, compromises, power, and a strong yet unfulfilled desire for paternal love. This confronts Ezra's motto that family must stay together with the reality of resentment, abandonment, betrayal, and regret that the Almeida family actually have as the (unwanted) foundation of their relationships. Another outstanding element of this book is that the author took into account the importance of reputation for a traditional Latinamerican family, which is a burden that limits their possibilities to build healthier relationships. But, this is not a terrible story about a horrible family, there is love, tenderness, and support in the Almeida family as well. In that way, the author also shows that the real bonds between (some) family members are spiritual and not a set of obligations. I really liked this book and I totally recommend it.

What I did not like: At the beginning of the book there are some explanations about the political changes in Brazil during a century, the geography of the region where the story is placed, the (unusual and interesting) system that Brazilians have for family names, and the family tree. When I read all this information I was overwhelmed because I thought that the book was going to be tiresome and confusing. Luckily, it was not the case at all, but that first part scared me a little. Also, as there are so many characters, some may seem one-dimensional or archetypical at certain points. Even when some family members can be explored in other chapters (as it happens with Sofia or Carolina), others remain as a couple of adjectives (like most of the in-laws, except for Irene).

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Liberty Farm, while complex and involved, held me captive longer than I expected it to. Poignant and full of heart felt characters, it left me heart broken and wanting more. Izai Amorim knows how to write a strong female character that demands more of its readers! A fantastic read!

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Wow, this is one great book! "Liberty Farm: A Family Portrait" is a family saga that spans three generations of farmers and one hundred years, set against the backdrop of the tumultuous state of Brazilian government and politics. This book is not only entertaining, it is educational as well, but never dry. This is the story of a family that always sticks together through good times and bad times, and despite the bad actions of some of the family members. The characters were so well-developed and realistic-I sometimes felt that I was reading about real people instead of fictional ones. All of the characters are flawed in some way, as real people are, and I become so engaged with them that I experienced real emotions of anger, hate, disappointment, sadness, and joy right along with the characters. This is a long story, and it does drag at times. However, this book is definitely work sticking through to the end.

Many thanks to NetGalley, to the author Izai Amorim, and to the publisher for the privilege of reading an advanced digital copy of this fabulous book in exchange for my honest review.

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This is a great historical story about life in a family in Brazil. As usual, Izai does a great job with the characters in this book! I was rooting for a few and despising a few of them. The story is about a family of farmers who gets their children to go to college. It spans a few generations and comes from the view of a few of the characters. It is also told during a rough part of Brazil history, adding to the flavor of the story. I recommend this book!

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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This book centred around a number of generations of one Brazilian family. They farmed the land and their aim was to provide for their children and ensure they attended as high as third level education. Their families were of utmost importance to them. The characterisations in this story were superb and I could truly empathise with some of the female characters. They were strong, driven and powerful. They put up with a lot and were the back bones of their families. This period of history, approximately one hundred years covered in this book, was interwoven very well into the family saga and provided much knowledge on a period of history I knew very little about spanning the beginning of Brazilian independence until the military dictatorship ended in 1989. This isn't a period that we regularly learn about or are taught in school so it was a very interesting addition to this saga. I enjoyed it a lot and certainly would recommend.

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When I first started reading this book, I admit I found it hard going. I originally felt that it was going nowhere

But I persevered, as I never leave a book unfinished no matter what my original thoughts are

As the book went on, I found myself loving the whole way the book was written. With the historical facts of what was happening politically and behind the scenes of life, going back to the story was a pleasure

I grew to love the characters and hate the 'baddies' that the author has written so imaginatively about

The way the author makes the characters come alive and make you feel as if you were a part of their lives was brilliant

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I love books that mix historical facts with a fictional story. This book lived up to that. Generations of a family growing up on a cattle farm was the backdrop. Helena was by far the best character in the book. The losses and struggles that she dealt with were heartbreaking. The book starts off very slow but really pics up speed. I wish it had ended with Esra (with an s) getting what he deserved.

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I really enjoyed this family saga set in Brazil following three generations over one century against the backdrop of Brazil’s turbulent history. The family dynamics, the changes in social mores, aspects of agriculture, economics and education – the book covers so many aspects of Brazilian life with short separate chapters keeping readers updated on political events. I was initially dismayed when I saw pages of dates and lists of characters at the beginning, as I’m always wary of books that seem to need these, but in the event I needn’t have worried as the complex family relationships and the many members are easy to keep track of as the narrative style is plain, succinct and simple (but not simplistic) and the politics is explained again in a very clear way so that it doesn’t intrude on the story. Just as politics only rarely impinge on the family as they struggle with education, work and often fractious family relationships. Those lists should be moved to the end of the book just as reference if needed. It’s a really compelling novel about some truly memorable characters, and as a bonus I learnt a lot about Brazil as I followed their stories.

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