Five Thousand Days Like This One An American Family History

1999 National Book Critics Circle Award finalist in nonfiction

Beacon Press 1999
Paperback: 2000

Amid the turmoil after her father’s death – family decision to be made, the future of their farm to be settled – Jane Brox begins a search for her family’s story. The search soon leads her to the fascinating and quintessentially American history of New England’s Merrimack Valley, its farmers, and the immigrant workers caught up in the industrial textile age.

At the center of Brox’s journey through family history is a poignant question: How can her own family identity – language, food, a grandfather’s wish for “five thousand days like this one” – be recovered when so few traces of former lives are left? When Five Thousand Days Like This One returns to the present, along with decision on how the orchards and farm stand will or won’t change, the author must make her own discoveries about those aspects of family identity she can cherish and those she must let go.


PRAISE for Five Thousand Days Like This One

“A clear-eyed and beautifully written celebration of a place where family, community, history and nature all still matter deeply. It’s been a long time since I’ve read anything that’s caught and held my attention and admiration quite the way this wonderful memoir of life in the Merrimack Valley has.”
– Howard Frank Mosher

“Haunting…. Had Henry David Thoreau the chance, he would be happy to quote Jane Brox.”
– Michael Kenney, The Boston Globe

“A mature, levelheaded book, thick with emotion but not overwhelmed by it…reading it is a genuine pleasure.”
– Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post

“A superb book.”
Yankee Magazine

“This is quite beautiful music, the sound of a family’s life that keeps ringing in a daughter’s ears.”
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“A clear-eyed and cogent history of farming, immigrant life and one American family written in prose that sparkles like the Merrimack River once did.”
Publisher’s Weekly

“Brox’s evocative prose, her delicate transitions, and above all her dignified distance do what good art is supposed to do: transform the personal into the universal, and make the universal accessible to every reader.”
Boston Magazine

“What compels [Brox], what seems to have emerged as her true subject… is time itself; how relative it is to the landscape that reveals it, how casually we’ve learned to accommodate its evident abstraction yet how easily that same abstraction can be ripened and resolved into moments so luminous and irreducible they remake time in their own image.”
– Amy Godine, Orion

“Tenderly and specifically, generously and with a refreshing breadth of knowledge…. Five Thousand Days Like This One recreates the past lyrically and resonantly. Memory is love and cherishing, of course, but also, it is a weighing and giving. Jane Brox’s book is a wonderful gift to us all.”
– Mary Oliver


> Amazon
> Barnes & Noble
> Indiebound

Or locally in Maine from:
Gulf of Maine Books
134 Maine Street
Brunswick, Maine


  • The Boston Globe, 3/16/99
  • The Washington Post, 3/24/99
  • The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 4/4/99
  • The International Herald Tribune, 6/3/99
  • Orion Magazine, Summer 1999
  • Boston Magazine, March 1999
  • Yankee Magazine, September, 1999
  • Arts Around Boston, June 1999
  • The Larcom Review, Spring/Summer 1999
  • Harvard Review, April 2000
  • Kirkus Reviews, 2/1/99 (starred review)
  • Publishers Weekly, 2/8/99
  • Booklist, 2/15/99