Meanwhile, Next Door to the Good Life  

by Jean Hay Bright


ISBN 0-9720924-1-2

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Book Reviews!


Mainely Women Wordsmiths

by Theresa Wilton

May/June 2004

...Meanwhile, Next Door to the Good Life does not diminish the Nearing memory, or the effect they had on young people of the ‘70s.  It places the events in perspective and updates the reader on the lives of those who lived it.  At the same time, the book rid me of those rose-colored glasses; it brought an end to my own homesteading dreams—and I’m having trouble adapting.

read the full review...


Women Writers.Net

June 2004

   ....Meanwhile, Next Door to the Good Life balances historical fact and personal experience to create a book that reads like a conversation amongst friends. Hay Bright engages with a journalistic search for truth by refusing to sweeten events in the novel, but rather writes with a raw honesty about both herself and others.

    So, if you are looking for a book that will broaden your knowledge of 1970s homesteading movement in Maine while at the same time invite you into the lives of real, interesting people, this is it.   read more...


Seasoned Booksellers

catalog comments:

   Bright violet covers on this paperback volume give one a good idea of the life and style within. Jean Hay Bright tells her tale of homesteading life, which happened to be sandwiched between the homesteads of the Nearings on one side and the Coleman's on the nother side. This very personal memoir draws you in and holds you close. 366 pages, indexed, b& w photos throughout.


Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener,

        the newspaper of MOFGA

   Review by Jean English

          March-May 2004 issue

...Jean has provided a personal glimpse of an important time in Maine’s history.  Her book serves as inspiration to those who may want to cultivate their own version of the good life, as Jean and Keith successfully did... read more...


Rutland Herald and

Times-Argus in Vermont

by Melissa MacKenzie

Dec. 13, 2003

   ...During her homesteading days, Hay Bright saw that what the Nearings said and wrote could not always be taken as gospel.

     "Undoubtedly they were principled human beings, and they wore their principles firmly and resolutely," she writes. (But) … "That self-assuredness and confidence and worldliness and stubbornness that drew so many people in – they were, after all, living proof that it was possible to beat the system – made it all the harder to understand the inconsistencies that kept cropping up." read more...


Author Susan Hand Shetterly

October 23, 2003

     “Meanwhile, Next Door to the Good Life” is going to become one of those essential books to read in order to understand the back-to-the-land-movement in Maine. read more...



More Book Reviews!


Ellsworth American

by Ellen Booream

Nov. 20, 2003

    If you once thought fleetingly about trying to survive on the land, this book will make you alternately wistful and thankful that you didn’t.  If you’re still thinking about it, read this book right after you finish one by the Nearings.  read more... Reader's Review

by Barry Curtis

Nov. 25, 2003

    Her book is a very personal account of her back to the land adventure. It's a very honest book, revealing their failures as well as their successes. I both laughed and cried. In many ways, it was more educational than the books of their famed "advisors".....

    Even if one has not heard of the Nearings, or gone back to the land, it's a wonderful book that touches the soul. It's definitely a book I will keep on my bookshelf and reread, rather than donate it to the local library. read more...


Bangor Daily News

by Emmet Meara

Nov. 17, 2003  

    To all of us who dreamed of homesteading and never did, the construction details in "Meanwhile, Next Door to the Good Life" are fascinating.  read more...


Penobscot Bay Press

by Sharon Bray

Dec. 4, 2003

appearing in:

Castine Patriot in Castine, Maine

Weekly Packet in Blue Hill, Maine

Island Ad-Vantages in Deer Isle/Stonington, Maine


   Reading Jean Hay Bright’s book, "Meanwhile, Next Door to the Good Life," for some readers, will bring up distant memories, strong feelings, and some sense of truth, justice and resolution for unfinished dreams and continuing hopes....

   Some chapters can be read independently, but the book uses flashbacks and subplots the reader might miss by jumping around looking for passages about familiar events. Besides its structural complexity, the book is intensely personal....  read more...


Maine Sunday Telegram

(Portland Press Herald)

by Lloyd Ferris

January 18, 2004

    ...Jean Hay Bright has written a fascinating insider’s view of both homesteading and the complex and quirky Nearings, who promoted their rural self-sufficiency in their books and by counseling thousands of drop-in visitors.... As a writer, Hay has impeccable credentials for writing about homesteading, and exploding the Nearing myth... read more...


© 1998 Jean Hay, Bangor, Maine; © 1999-2000 Jean Hay, Dixmont, Maine; © 2001-2018 Jean Hay Bright, Dixmont, Maine;
All Rights Reserved.