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The Country of the Pointed Firs (eBook)

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This collection of stories is based on the personal experiences of Sarah Jewett as she grew up in rural Maine and traveled with her doctor father. The closely-knit sketches of a small fishing village in Maine seaport town in the 1890's are narrated by a summer resident. In the title story first published in 1886, a writer retreats to spend a quiet summer in a remote seapor This collection of stories is based on the personal experiences of Sarah Jewett as she grew up in rural Maine and traveled with her doctor father. The closely-knit sketches of a small fishing village in Maine seaport town in the 1890's are narrated by a summer resident. In the title story first published in 1886, a writer retreats to spend a quiet summer in a remote seaport, where she discovers a strong and cohesive community even as the town faces economic decline


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This collection of stories is based on the personal experiences of Sarah Jewett as she grew up in rural Maine and traveled with her doctor father. The closely-knit sketches of a small fishing village in Maine seaport town in the 1890's are narrated by a summer resident. In the title story first published in 1886, a writer retreats to spend a quiet summer in a remote seapor This collection of stories is based on the personal experiences of Sarah Jewett as she grew up in rural Maine and traveled with her doctor father. The closely-knit sketches of a small fishing village in Maine seaport town in the 1890's are narrated by a summer resident. In the title story first published in 1886, a writer retreats to spend a quiet summer in a remote seaport, where she discovers a strong and cohesive community even as the town faces economic decline

30 review for The Country of the Pointed Firs (eBook)

  1. 5 out of 5

    Brina

    Sarah Orne Jewett was born in 1849 to a well to do New England family. Her family split their time in Boston while summering in south Bostwick, Maine. Jewett exhibited that she wanted to be a writer early on, and, after striking up a friendship with editor William Dean Howells, her stories began to appear in the Atlantic. Her most famous collection of stories, which can also be known as a novella and has gained inclusion in 500 Great Books By Women by Erica Bauermeister, is The Country of the Po Sarah Orne Jewett was born in 1849 to a well to do New England family. Her family split their time in Boston while summering in south Bostwick, Maine. Jewett exhibited that she wanted to be a writer early on, and, after striking up a friendship with editor William Dean Howells, her stories began to appear in the Atlantic. Her most famous collection of stories, which can also be known as a novella and has gained inclusion in 500 Great Books By Women by Erica Bauermeister, is The Country of the Pointed Firs, detailing a summer that Jewett spent in fictional Dunnett's Landing, Maine. Although the narrator is not Jewett by name, the story details time she enjoyed in a similar setting. Willa Cather calls The Country of Pointed Firs one of the top three American books that she read, and Cather even edited a later edition of the book. Dunnett's Landing and her inhabitants, even without Cather's editing skills, are worthy of their place as quality women's literature. The quaint village of Dunnett's Landing is a lovely way to pass a summer afternoon. A narrator who may or may not be Jewett has chosen to pass her summer as a lodger at the home of Almira Todd, a sixty seven year old widow. Todd chose never to remarry and is by definition a strong female protagonist. She is a medicine woman and knows everything about all the flora and fauna in the area, assisting the town doctor in most cases. She is also related to most people in the are as her mother's people, the Bowdens, have called northern Maine home for five generations, preceding the revolution. Through Mrs Todd, we hear many yarns of oral history. Whether it is a story about sailing or whaling, foraging for plant life, or the many relatives Mrs Todd has in the area, we see that she is both a walking history book and charming older woman who our narrator is happy to call a friend. As there are few books featuring strong older female characters, I was easily enamored with Mrs Todd's character. Almira Todd is hardly the only dynamic woman featured in this novella. Todd's close friend Susan Bostwick is the only survivor out of nine siblings. Bostwick comes from a sea faring family that spent as much time at sea as on land, and she and Todd have known each other since they began school. Together, they regale the narrator with wonderful stories and it is apparent that they enjoy an enriching friendship. Yet, no woman in this novella charmed me as much as Todd's mother, eighty six year old Mrs Blackett. An independent woman if there ever was one, Mrs Blackett has chosen to live in a cottage on Green Island with her confirmed bachelor son William. Content with her station in life, Mrs Blackett shows the exuberance of youth and hardly seems older than her daughter Mrs Todd. The two women appear as siblings rather than a mother and daughter, giving credence to the adage that age is but a number. In the case of Mrs Blackett, it appears as though her best days could still be ahead of her. In addition the strong female protagonists, I fell in love with Dunnett's Landing, Maine. I spent many vacations in Door County, Wisconsin, and the heavy foliage along with lakeside air and diet heavy on fish boils and cherry pie are similar in character to Dunnett's Landing. The villages are based on fishing and summer homes, and the fir and other trees create a setting that evokes late nights on a porch, reminiscing about time gone by. Jewett enjoyed quality female friendships, and got the idea for Dunnett's Landing after spending a month with a friend in a Maine seaside village. Even though she wintered in the Boston area, Maine held a special place for Jewett as she revisited the characters and setting in later stories. Some editions of the book include these stories including a short story entitled William's Wedding. In all of the yarns, the sea is calm, the foliage is luscious, and Jewett's character descriptions are as though the reader has been acquainted with them for their entire lives. The Country of Pointed Firs is a quality way to spend a summer afternoon. It evokes time spent on vacation in the country with dear family and friends. Because Jewett's writing is full of strong female characters, it can also be considered early feminist literature. Yet, this writing contains no conflict, as not one character can be considered an antagonist. Perhaps, this can also be true of Jewett's life full of female friendship and little hardship until she fell ill right before her passing. As such, I would be interested in reading Jewett's other stories, especially her previous work appearing in the Atlantic. The Country of Pointed Firs has been a lovely way to spend a summer day, as this enriching novella rates 4 solid stars.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Thomas

    This short story sequence bored me out of my mind. Other reviewers state that this book appeals to an older, more experienced audience, though I hope I do not have to reread this in my old age. Sarah Orne Jewett's acclaimed novel follows a young writer who spends a summer in Dunnet Landing, Maine. There, she befriends various townsfolk and notices the decline of the Coastal New England town itself. While perhaps there is something to be said about how Jewett eschews typical plot constructions in This short story sequence bored me out of my mind. Other reviewers state that this book appeals to an older, more experienced audience, though I hope I do not have to reread this in my old age. Sarah Orne Jewett's acclaimed novel follows a young writer who spends a summer in Dunnet Landing, Maine. There, she befriends various townsfolk and notices the decline of the Coastal New England town itself. While perhaps there is something to be said about how Jewett eschews typical plot constructions in The Country of the Pointed Firs, I could not find anything exciting or rewarding about this book. Jewett includes some meaningful observations about friendship and time passing, but I have come across these same sentiments in works of overall higher quality. Maybe those who come from a small town or are interested in the history of New England would like this one more than I did.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jenny (Reading Envy)

    My note to myself, since I've tried keeping better track of why I add books to my tbr list, is that I first learned about this book in Spinster: Making a Life of One's Own by Kate Bolick. It makes sense, as the "Mrs. Todd" of this book is a wonderful example of a woman living on her own and is quite satisfied, thank you very much. The narrator of this book is a younger woman, boarding with Mrs. Todd so she can work on her writing, and she also qualifies for the spinster test (in Bolick's definit My note to myself, since I've tried keeping better track of why I add books to my tbr list, is that I first learned about this book in Spinster: Making a Life of One's Own by Kate Bolick. It makes sense, as the "Mrs. Todd" of this book is a wonderful example of a woman living on her own and is quite satisfied, thank you very much. The narrator of this book is a younger woman, boarding with Mrs. Todd so she can work on her writing, and she also qualifies for the spinster test (in Bolick's definition.) This a series of stories about the characters in a small coastal town in Maine. It was a lovely way to end each day as I read it in Serial Reader before bed.

  4. 5 out of 5

    John Mccullough

    First published in 1894, this small jewel of a classic has survived largely unnoticed for well over a hundred years. Jewett presents us a series of character studies in a small Maine town that had once been a prosperous if not wealthy seaport and whaling village, recounting stories of or from a few of its inhabitants. Most of the stories are those of the town’s women, left widowed or single by the dangers that befell sailors in particular but late 19th century life in general. The main idea is s First published in 1894, this small jewel of a classic has survived largely unnoticed for well over a hundred years. Jewett presents us a series of character studies in a small Maine town that had once been a prosperous if not wealthy seaport and whaling village, recounting stories of or from a few of its inhabitants. Most of the stories are those of the town’s women, left widowed or single by the dangers that befell sailors in particular but late 19th century life in general. The main idea is similar to Sherwood Anderson’s “Winesburg, Ohio.” The unnamed narrator, presumably a middle-aged woman like the author, rents a room for the Summer from a widowed Mrs Almira Todd, “Almiry,” with whom she rapidly becomes friends. Mrs. Todd introduces the narrator to the neighborhood, her relatives and friends who divulge their stories of good and hard times, of life and death. There is much fodder for hardened cynics. The book is largely about women, so is this Victorian Chick-Lit? The stories describe the lives of poorly-educated – but occasionally well-traveled by ship – small town folk. So is this about boring rubes? No to both questions. Luckily, a recently adopted Scandinavian term rescues us from the jaws of hypocrisy – “Hygge.” This is cultivation of simple pleasures – living with less, walks in Nature, an evening spent before a fireplace, conversing or reading, conversing with real people, not a voice in an electronic device. and so forth. The main idea is simple comfort for us in the US seen in mid-century modern Scandinavian teak furniture and other designs. Does the book describe life in “simpler times?” Again, no. They were simpler times primarily because we have not lived them and have no idea how complicated “simpler times” really were. Jewett describes a small part of the complexity and uncertainty of those times. And the times were hard to live and die. For just one instance from Chapter 18 (The Bowden Reunion): “And presently Mrs. Blackett showed me the stone-walled burying ground that stood like a little fort on a knoll overlooking the bay, but, as she said, there were plenty of scattered Bowdens who were not laid there, - some lost at sea, and some out West, and some who died in the war; most of the home graves were those of women.” One last point – the book is well-written and reads rapidly but the language is slightly stilted late 19th century construction. And much of the dialogue describes contemporary parlance full of lost letters and occasional words lost to our early 21st century vocabularies. Both are easily digested after a few pages. All told, the book is a charming and intimate introduction to a time long gone. Most important, introduction to a group of people we would not know if Jewett had not written the book. The book was praised by Henry James and Ursula Le Guin; Willa Cather thought it was one of the best American novels of the 19th century. I largely agree and I’m very glad I ran into it.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Richard Derus

    Rating: 5* of five My review is live today at Expendable Mudge Muses Aloud. I gave it 5 stars because Jewett records the social injustice endemic in 19th century Maine in gorgeous, lush writing. I hadn't noticed this when I first read the book forty-plus years ago.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    What a sweet, lovely book. Composed of a series of vignettes that are bound together by an overstory of a young lady spending the summer in Dunnet Landing, Maine. Jewett does a spectacular job of portraying the people who populate this seafarer's town and its neighboring islands. She captures both their relationships and sense of community and their naturally reticent and independent natures. Every occupant of this town has his own unique tale, and while there is no driving plotline, but more a What a sweet, lovely book. Composed of a series of vignettes that are bound together by an overstory of a young lady spending the summer in Dunnet Landing, Maine. Jewett does a spectacular job of portraying the people who populate this seafarer's town and its neighboring islands. She captures both their relationships and sense of community and their naturally reticent and independent natures. Every occupant of this town has his own unique tale, and while there is no driving plotline, but more a kind of folklore that is being passed, reminiscent of The Canterbury Tales but even less plot-driven than that. I felt amazingly attached and involved with these people, even though they might only make an appearance in one chapter and then fade from view in the next. The descriptions Jewett offers of both the land and its people are astoundingly visual: "A long time before we landed at Green Island we could see the small white house, standing high like a beacon, where Mrs. Todd was born and where her mother lived, on a green slope above the water, with dark spruce woods still higher." "I wondered, as I looked at him, if he had sprung from a line of ministers, he had the refinement of look and air of command which are the heritage of the old ecclesiastical families of New England. But as Darwin says in his autobiography, 'there is no such king as a sea-captain.'" And, she sprinkles some astute observations among her flowing descriptions of the land and its people: "Conversation's got to have some root in the past, or else you've got to explain every remark you make, an' it wears a person out." If you have a friend who has been with you since childhood, or a sibling with which you are very close, you will understand this perfectly. No new friend can fill that same purpose because with the old friend or sibling no explanation is necessary and with the new friend no amount of explanation could be enough. "There, you never get over bein' a child long's you have a mother to go to." Again, if you have lost a mother you know the truth of this statement. While your mother lives there is always "home". I have long wanted to read this book, having come across an excerpt from it years ago in a Victorian magazine. I was not disappointed. It roused a kind of nostalgia in me for a time and place I have never known but would love to be a part of. It suggests a kind of serenity, camaraderie, industry and love of life that is often sorely missing from our modern existence. The closest modern-era book I have found to this is At Home in Mitford.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Carl

    I read some other comments, and generally this one seems to appeal more to those who are a bit on the experienced side. It makes me realize how favorite books fit one's age. when I was 18, I was forced to read Pride and Prejudice. Hated it. At 23 in grad school. Hated it. At 35, a friend said: "You really should give it a try." Loved it. So, since the book didn't change, that means I did. As a writer of young adult fiction, this is actually quite encouraging. I'm not a great writer for adults, b I read some other comments, and generally this one seems to appeal more to those who are a bit on the experienced side. It makes me realize how favorite books fit one's age. when I was 18, I was forced to read Pride and Prejudice. Hated it. At 23 in grad school. Hated it. At 35, a friend said: "You really should give it a try." Loved it. So, since the book didn't change, that means I did. As a writer of young adult fiction, this is actually quite encouraging. I'm not a great writer for adults, but I can be a great writer for a 15 year old. So that becomes my goal--not to aspire to something that is beyond my skill level, but to take the gift I have and try to do the best I can for the audience I have. One other thought on this book. Walden comes to mind as a companion, and in many ways Walden is the greater book. Yet for pure enjoyment, I suspect the vast majority of readers would prefer this one. Great ending . . . impressive passages on friendship, time, gardening, the sea. Well worth reading . . . it's short!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    Free download available at Project Gutenberg. And the audio version is available at LibriVox. CONTENTS I. The Return II. Mrs. Todd III. The Schoolhouse IV. At the Schoolhouse Window V. Captain Littlepage VI. The Waiting Place VII. The Outer Island VIII. Green Island IX. William X. Where Pennyroyal Grew XI. The Old Singers XII. A Strange Sail XIII. Poor Joanna XIV. The Hermitage XV. On Shell-heap Island XVI. The Great Expedition XVII. A Country Road XVIII. The Bowden Reunion XIX. The Feast's End XX. Free download available at Project Gutenberg. And the audio version is available at LibriVox. CONTENTS I. The Return II. Mrs. Todd III. The Schoolhouse IV. At the Schoolhouse Window V. Captain Littlepage VI. The Waiting Place VII. The Outer Island VIII. Green Island IX. William X. Where Pennyroyal Grew XI. The Old Singers XII. A Strange Sail XIII. Poor Joanna XIV. The Hermitage XV. On Shell-heap Island XVI. The Great Expedition XVII. A Country Road XVIII. The Bowden Reunion XIX. The Feast's End XX. Along Shore XXI. The Backward View Such adorable stories are a true comfort reading. Note: SARAH ORNE JEWETT (1849-1909) was born and died in South Berwick, Maine. Her father was the region's most distinguished doctor and, as a child, Jewett often accompanied him on his round of patient visits. She began writing poetry at an early age and when she was only 19 her short story "Mr. Bruce" was accepted by the Atlantic Monthly. Her association with that magazine continued, and William Dean Howells, who was editor at that time, encouraged her to publish her first book, Deephaven (1877), a collection of sketches published earlier in the Atlantic Monthly. Through her friendship with Howells, Jewett became acquainted with Boston's literary elite, including Annie Fields, with whom she developed one of the most intimate and lasting relationships of her life. The Country of the Pointed Firs (1896) is considered Jewett's finest work, described by Henry James as her "beautiful little quantum of achievement." Despite James's diminutives, the novel remains a classic. Because it is loosely structured, many critics view the book not as a novel, but a series of sketches; however, its structure is unified through both setting and theme. Jewett herself felt that her strengths as a writer lay not in plot development or dramatic tension, but in character development. Indeed, she determined early in her career to preserve a disappearing way of life, and her novel can be read as a study of the effects of isolation and hardship on the inhabitants who lived in the decaying fishing villages along the Maine coast. Jewett died in 1909, eight years after an accident that effectively ended her writing career. Her reputation had grown during her lifetime, extending far beyond the bounds of the New England she loved.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl

    My edition not here - a lovely hardcover with artful illustrations. I'm sure reading that made all the difference. Reading an old mm pb or gutenberg on the e-reader would not have felt meaningful, or given me the experience of giving Jewett's words & ideas the consideration they deserved. So, I'm glad. I'm glad I got to know this little fishing village in Maine, of over 100 years ago. What interesting people, talking even then about the way of life they were saying goodbye to. Unfortunately f My edition not here - a lovely hardcover with artful illustrations. I'm sure reading that made all the difference. Reading an old mm pb or gutenberg on the e-reader would not have felt meaningful, or given me the experience of giving Jewett's words & ideas the consideration they deserved. So, I'm glad. I'm glad I got to know this little fishing village in Maine, of over 100 years ago. What interesting people, talking even then about the way of life they were saying goodbye to. Unfortunately for me there was almost nothing about the fish, or wildlife, not even much about the herbs that Mrs. Todd used in her potions and balms. Hm... come to think of it, it's interesting that she was just another neighbor with a talent, whereas so much stale historical fiction would tend to assume she'd be viewed as a witch. I don't feel the need to reread or recommend this, but I am giving it to my mother.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Janine

    The Country of the Pointed Firs is a very quiet novella. It doesn't really even have a plot. Yet somehow Jewett pulls off a masterful work of rumination and lazy summer days, set in rural coastal Maine. This novella's triumph -- it was published originally in 1896 -- is its resistance to the oncoming onslaught of railroad and stylish magazine homogeneity encouraged among American people and places alike. It's slow going with this novella at first, but, sure enough, by the turn of the last page I The Country of the Pointed Firs is a very quiet novella. It doesn't really even have a plot. Yet somehow Jewett pulls off a masterful work of rumination and lazy summer days, set in rural coastal Maine. This novella's triumph -- it was published originally in 1896 -- is its resistance to the oncoming onslaught of railroad and stylish magazine homogeneity encouraged among American people and places alike. It's slow going with this novella at first, but, sure enough, by the turn of the last page I found myself very moved. Jewett's descriptions of the slowly decaying fishing village of Dunnet reminded me a lot of my current home in coastal Southeast Alaska (down to the detail of the spruce beer), and I related with the anonymous narrator's status as an outsider. The experience of reading this book was something like listening to conversation between offbeat characters or watching bees fly around above a field. If that's your cup of tea, this is your novella.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Bettie

    (view spoiler)[Bettie's Books (hide spoiler)]

  12. 5 out of 5

    Lobstergirl

    I agree with Willa Cather that reading this book is kind of like watching paint dry. Actually the way she expressed it was, If I were to name three American books which have the possibility of a long, long life, I would say at once, The Scarlet Letter, Huckleberry Finn, and The Country of the Pointed Firs. I can think of no others that confront time and change so serenely. An unnamed female narrator, probably in her 30s, spends a summer in a small Maine coastal town and describes her interactions I agree with Willa Cather that reading this book is kind of like watching paint dry. Actually the way she expressed it was, If I were to name three American books which have the possibility of a long, long life, I would say at once, The Scarlet Letter, Huckleberry Finn, and The Country of the Pointed Firs. I can think of no others that confront time and change so serenely. An unnamed female narrator, probably in her 30s, spends a summer in a small Maine coastal town and describes her interactions and increasing emotional connections with the salt-of-the-earth locals. The novella is followed by four "stories," but they all share the same narrator and cast of characters so we might as well consider them altogether a novel. Time and history are writ small in the details of a china cabinet, an old widower's braided rug, the pies at a family reunion. The narrative didn't completely hold my interest, so I concentrated on harvesting passages for my commonplace book. I saw William Blackett’s escaping sail already far from land, and Captain Littlepage was sitting behind his closed window as I passed by, watching for some one who never came. I tried to speak to him, but he did not see me. There was a patient look on the old man’s face, as if the world were a great mistake and he had nobody with whom to speak his own language or find companionship.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Sylvester

    “In the life of each of us, I said to myself, there is a place remote and islanded, and given to endless regret or secret happiness; we are each the uncompanioned hermit and recluse of an hour or day...” I’ve only come across a few books like this one – so quietly beautiful that it calls no attention to itself, a book so engrossed in its subject that one forgets it was actually written – it feels so like an actual experience. The narrator like a coat one can slip into. Walking with Mrs. Todd, gat “In the life of each of us, I said to myself, there is a place remote and islanded, and given to endless regret or secret happiness; we are each the uncompanioned hermit and recluse of an hour or day...” I’ve only come across a few books like this one – so quietly beautiful that it calls no attention to itself, a book so engrossed in its subject that one forgets it was actually written – it feels so like an actual experience. The narrator like a coat one can slip into. Walking with Mrs. Todd, gathering herbs, visiting friends, looking out the schoolhouse window watching the funeral procession go by - the feeling of peace, the contentment of the island people, their connection to nature – the sea. It’s a holiday for the spirit. I especially loved the visit to Green Island. This book deserves more attention - it’s a masterpiece of understated story-telling. You could say that nothing happens, but really – everything happens: life, death, friendship, love, family, seasons of life and nature, disappointment, renewal – all in the ebb and flow of the every-day. It’s like a tidepool – at first you only see the silver flash of a tiny fish, but if you sit for a minute, you spot a crab, a sea slug, and is that a worm of some kind? Life teems where a moment before there was only a pool of water. “You don’t go out fishing after Christmas?” I asked, as we came back into the bright kitchen. “No; I take stiddy to my knitting after January sets in,” said the old seafarer. “Tain’t worth while, fish make off into deeper water an’ you can’t stand no such perishin’ for the sake o’ what you get. I leave out a few traps in sheltered coves an’ do a little lobsterin’ on fair days. The young fellows brave it out, some on ‘em; but for me, I lay in my winter’s yarn an’ set here where ‘tis warm, an’ knit an’ take my comfort.” The quietness of TCOTPF reminded me a little of “The Summer Book”, by Tove Janssen – even though the books are very different otherwise. Thanks to Bettie and Mumzie for the recommendation.

  14. 5 out of 5

    JG (The Introverted Reader)

    A woman spends a couple of summers in a small town on the coast of Maine. She becomes a part of the everyday life thanks to her garrulous landlady and becomes privy to many of the residents' life stories. I read this back in college and loved it so much that I still have my copy from that class. I decided to re-read it when my husband and I visited the coast of Maine last month. I might love it even more now. The narrator, who remains unnamed, is accepted in this tightly-knit community, but she's A woman spends a couple of summers in a small town on the coast of Maine. She becomes a part of the everyday life thanks to her garrulous landlady and becomes privy to many of the residents' life stories. I read this back in college and loved it so much that I still have my copy from that class. I decided to re-read it when my husband and I visited the coast of Maine last month. I might love it even more now. The narrator, who remains unnamed, is accepted in this tightly-knit community, but she's still enough of an outsider that she's able to see how special it is. The locals just know it as home. They don't exactly take it for granted but they don't realize that it's combination of beautiful scenery, caring neighbors, and colorful personalities make it unique. This novella consists of many smaller stories and a host of characters that come to life in the pages. The old sea captain who still mourns his wife. The sweet, elderly mother who shines so brightly with an internal radiance that everyone who meets her loves her. The shy older brother with his own, unsuspected story. The woman who is the Queen's twin. The tragic hermit, living alone on her island. No one gets very many pages but I loved them all. The scenery is described perfectly, and, now that I think about it, may have sparked my desire to visit Maine. Reading it while I was there made it all the more special. This is a quiet book and won't appeal to everyone. There's not a lot that actually happens. Readers looking to escape to a simpler place and time will love it. I suspect that L. M. Montgomery's grownup readers will be fans of Sarah Orne Jewett.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jimmy

    Do you need a lazy extended vacation? Then this is the book for you. You'll see landscapes breathtaking yet familiar, meet people who will welcome you into their homes and tell you stories of their youth. You'll learn to gather herbs and forage for supplies in the coasts of Maine. You'll take day-long or weekend-long trips to a nearby island while folklore swims in your head. You'll never feel hurried or stressed out. But if all this socializing is too much for you, don't worry. You'll find time Do you need a lazy extended vacation? Then this is the book for you. You'll see landscapes breathtaking yet familiar, meet people who will welcome you into their homes and tell you stories of their youth. You'll learn to gather herbs and forage for supplies in the coasts of Maine. You'll take day-long or weekend-long trips to a nearby island while folklore swims in your head. You'll never feel hurried or stressed out. But if all this socializing is too much for you, don't worry. You'll find time alone too, in an abandoned schoolhouse, where you can sit at the desk and write, doodle, or read a book. If you came for conflict or excitement, leave now. This is not the book for you. But even considering the complete lack of conflict or any semblance of a conventional plot, you'll want to continue reading because the people will be such good company. And the prose itself is so full of character and insights. A delightful book. Similar to: The Summer Book by Tove Jansson A Month in the Country by JL Carr Old Joy (movie)

  16. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth (Alaska)

    I'm glad I finally got to this. It is a collection of vignettes that make a novel, in much the same way as is Olive Kitteridge a novel. The stories are in the individual chapters, but the thread between them is strong. This is a quiet book, told in the first person by a visitor to a Maine fishing village. Ketchikan was one such town before tourism arrived and a good portion of our population continues to make its livelihood by harvesting the sea. Though we are on opposite coasts, I was able to r I'm glad I finally got to this. It is a collection of vignettes that make a novel, in much the same way as is Olive Kitteridge a novel. The stories are in the individual chapters, but the thread between them is strong. This is a quiet book, told in the first person by a visitor to a Maine fishing village. Ketchikan was one such town before tourism arrived and a good portion of our population continues to make its livelihood by harvesting the sea. Though we are on opposite coasts, I was able to recognize ourselves 100 years later.These ancient seafarers had houses and lands not outwardly different from other Dunnet Landing dwellings, and two of them were fathers of families, but their true dwelling places were the sea, and the stony beach that edged its familiar shore, and the fish-houses, where much salt brine from the mackerel kits had soaked the very timbers into a state of brown permanence and petrifaction.I don't know that I have others by Jewett on my Goodreads shelves, but if I found another that fits a challenge, I would be happy to consider it.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen

    There’s a term sometimes used in film and literature studies: Mise-en-scène, French for "placing on stage.” Some writers just put me there—they make me feel like I am experiencing what the character in their story is experiencing. It involves little details about the surroundings and the character's reactions, but the key is the right details, and I’m learning that which details work differs from one reader to the next. These details didn’t work for me. I was so looking forward to this book. I wa There’s a term sometimes used in film and literature studies: Mise-en-scène, French for "placing on stage.” Some writers just put me there—they make me feel like I am experiencing what the character in their story is experiencing. It involves little details about the surroundings and the character's reactions, but the key is the right details, and I’m learning that which details work differs from one reader to the next. These details didn’t work for me. I was so looking forward to this book. I wanted to know what it was like to live in Maine, to feel it. But it didn’t provide that for me. At all. And the content of the story didn’t hold my interest either. This is terrible, but I kept thinking reading this was like following To the Lighthouse’s Mrs. Ramsay around, if she never had an interesting thought. (And again, each reader will have a different idea of what constitutes an interesting thought. Plenty don’t think Mrs. Ramsay’s were very interesting!) So a probably lovely book, but unfortunately not for me.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    I received this book from a Facebook chain mail type scheme where you send the next person on the list a book. ( I generally shun chain letters but this one really worked!) I can see why someone would choose this. It's a slow paced, meditative novella set in a small town in Maine in the late 1800's. An unnamed woman writer stays in town for the summer, meeting the townsfolk and falling into the rhythms of their lives. It's a very short book but I found that I could not read it quickly. Just when I received this book from a Facebook chain mail type scheme where you send the next person on the list a book. ( I generally shun chain letters but this one really worked!) I can see why someone would choose this. It's a slow paced, meditative novella set in a small town in Maine in the late 1800's. An unnamed woman writer stays in town for the summer, meeting the townsfolk and falling into the rhythms of their lives. It's a very short book but I found that I could not read it quickly. Just when I would start to get a wee bit bored she would meet a new neighbor and we would start to hear their story and I would be hooked again. I was close to tears several times just from the way the characters were simple in their needs and relied on each other for comfort and companionship. I could feel the pain of her separation when she had to leave at the end of the summer. The writing is spare but Jewett works some magic in these few pages.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Mimi

    Sarah Orne Jewett was born in New England and lived there and in Boston. The daughter of a rural doctor, as a child Jewett accompanied him on visits, her early experiences fostered an interest in New England and an affection for its inhabitants which informed her later writing. Jewett’s classic novella is narrated by a woman staying at Mrs Todd’s boarding house in a small coastal town Dunnet Landing, in New England. Mrs Todd’s house is scented with the herbs that she uses for healing balms, whic Sarah Orne Jewett was born in New England and lived there and in Boston. The daughter of a rural doctor, as a child Jewett accompanied him on visits, her early experiences fostered an interest in New England and an affection for its inhabitants which informed her later writing. Jewett’s classic novella is narrated by a woman staying at Mrs Todd’s boarding house in a small coastal town Dunnet Landing, in New England. Mrs Todd’s house is scented with the herbs that she uses for healing balms, which make her known throughout the area. The nameless narrator is here to write but as time passes she slowly becomes acquainted with the town, its people, their stories and memories: Captain Littlepage the retired seafarer, widow Fosdick, the tragic recluse Joanna, the local farmers and fishermen. A favourite of writers as diverse as Willa Cather, Harriet Beecher Stowe and Ursula Le Guin, this is a calm, gentle, insightful book filled with descriptions of the sea, the local plants and landscape, punctuated by conversations and the narrator’s observations. Just to give a sense of the tone here’s a short extract (a bit downbeat but overall the story isn’t): "I could hear no voices but those of the birds, small and great, - the constant song sparrows, the clink of a yellow-hammer over in the woods, and the far conversation of some deliberate crows…Captain Littlepage was sitting behind his closed window as I passed by, watching for some one who never came. I tried to speak to him, but he did not see me. There was a patient look on the old man’s face, as if the world were a great mistake and he had nobody with whom to speak his own language or find companionship." Short with no overarching plot, reading this is like eavesdropping on the life of a community at a specific point in time - Jewett is particularly strong in her portrayal of female friendship, which was an important part of her own life. I think it’s a book that has to be read in a contemplative mood and I’m sure many readers would find it immensely dull but I really enjoyed it, I was immersed in the world it recreated and I was particularly taken with the indomitable Mrs Todd. (BTW there are different editions some incorporate additional Dunnet stories, some don’t. The edition I have finished with the chapter ‘The Backward View’ but had three of Jewett’s four Dunnet stories at the back - worth it for ‘The Queen’s Twin’ about a local woman born on the same day as Queen Victoria.)

  20. 5 out of 5

    Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly

    Set in a coastal town of Maine (USA) about a hundred years ago. The characters you'll meet here are practically all old people who stitch, mend clothes, make preserves, stare at the sea, collect herbs and gossip about other people living and dead. Peaceful and serene, with tall pointed firs growing everywhere, crime had yet to be invented in this place and time where people can leave their doors unlocked without worrying about being robbed. If this is going to be made into a movie the only actio Set in a coastal town of Maine (USA) about a hundred years ago. The characters you'll meet here are practically all old people who stitch, mend clothes, make preserves, stare at the sea, collect herbs and gossip about other people living and dead. Peaceful and serene, with tall pointed firs growing everywhere, crime had yet to be invented in this place and time where people can leave their doors unlocked without worrying about being robbed. If this is going to be made into a movie the only action and suspense that can be inserted here are flashbacks: of men from that place, while they were still young, becoming sailors and fighting storms at sea, either drowning or surviving and going back to the town to die of old age. Love? Poor Joanna, broken-hearted, lived a hermit by herself in a small island, dying alone. Many years pass by and the narrator visits her grave and waxes poetic: "Poor Joanna's house was gone except the stones of its foundations, and there was little trace of her flower garden except a single faded sprig of much-enduring French pinks, which a great bee and a yellow butterfly were befriending together. I drank at the spring, and thought that now and then some one would follow me from the busy, hard-worked, and simple-thoughted countryside of the mainland, which lay dim and dreamlike in the August haze, as Joanna must have watched it man a day. There was the world, and here was she with eternity well begun. In the life of each of us, I said to myself, there is a place remote and islanded, and given to endless regret or secret happiness; we are each the uncompanioned hermit and recluse of an hour or a day; we understand our fellows of the cell to whatever age of history they may belong." Now, I wouldn't be surprised if this place of breathtaking beauty, a country of tall, pointed fir trees, is now a resort for the rich where they party, have sex orgies, do drugs and brawl. Rock and roll had taken over poetry.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Ben Loory

    this is a beautiful book. 88 pages long, 1896. willa cather apparently named this book along with the scarlet letter and the adventures of huckleberry finn as the three soon-to-be-eternal cornerstones of american lit. can't help but notice moby-dick isn't on that short list, which is weird, because while reading this i just kept thinking "wow, this is sort of like moby-dick on land minus all the story and adventure." which i'm not really sure what that means, but hey... this is a great book. it' this is a beautiful book. 88 pages long, 1896. willa cather apparently named this book along with the scarlet letter and the adventures of huckleberry finn as the three soon-to-be-eternal cornerstones of american lit. can't help but notice moby-dick isn't on that short list, which is weird, because while reading this i just kept thinking "wow, this is sort of like moby-dick on land minus all the story and adventure." which i'm not really sure what that means, but hey... this is a great book. it's basically a study of isolation. people who live in isolation either because they want to or simply because living in isolation is what life is all about. and the sorrows and heartaches and joys and consolations entailed in all that. it's one of those small books that seem to swell in your mind as and after you read them. great characters, images, moments. it falters a little before the end, but ends so strong, all's forgiven. i miss mrs. todd, i wish we could go back. but we can't. the boat's left. moving on. our days of writing at the desk in the rented schoolhouse are over.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Alan

    A charming tale of life in the slow lane, perhaps equal to Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables, which features less botanical talk, and a less wild, more civilized setting. Green Gables is positively bourgeoise compared to the coastal cottages featured in Jewett. But both novels give a rich sense of the life and character of inhabitants of specific northeastern areas. In Jewett, one of the lifelong sailors is described as a great reader all his life, which addled his brains a bit. Can this be said A charming tale of life in the slow lane, perhaps equal to Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables, which features less botanical talk, and a less wild, more civilized setting. Green Gables is positively bourgeoise compared to the coastal cottages featured in Jewett. But both novels give a rich sense of the life and character of inhabitants of specific northeastern areas. In Jewett, one of the lifelong sailors is described as a great reader all his life, which addled his brains a bit. Can this be said of modern sailors? In Green Gables, the life of the neighbors features. At any rate, that book has created an industry in PEI. Quiz: What are the principal products of PEI? Mussels and novels. The principal products of Maine? Lobsters, brook and lake trout, and the Maine dialect--the ideal story-telling voice.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Marts (Thinker)

    Written in 1896, this simple yet delightful tale focuses on a writer who vacations at the seaside village of Dunnet Landing, Maine to catch up on her work, whilst there she socialises with Mrs. Todd, a herbalist, and her friends and relations...

  24. 4 out of 5

    Virginia Arthur

    Maine. Always there, in my mind, a place to get to if I can pry myself away from the west edge of the continent to go to the east edge though I wish I could visit when Jewett wrote this book, describing another edge, the quiet ending of another time on the coast of Maine when quiet boats of all kinds left at dawn to fish while people exchanged produce, wares, herbs, in a time where everyone was a spoke in the wheel of life, connected to one another in some way. The Country of Pointed Firs gently Maine. Always there, in my mind, a place to get to if I can pry myself away from the west edge of the continent to go to the east edge though I wish I could visit when Jewett wrote this book, describing another edge, the quiet ending of another time on the coast of Maine when quiet boats of all kinds left at dawn to fish while people exchanged produce, wares, herbs, in a time where everyone was a spoke in the wheel of life, connected to one another in some way. The Country of Pointed Firs gently, airily, sensitively documents the end of this simple time...No one really wants to hear your sea-faring stories anymore, old captain, rough seas, rescues, strange fish--now permanently grounded by yourself in your little wood house on the hill or Joanna who takes her broken heart off to an island, geographically and psychologically, soon to become legend. Is that her on the hill gathering wildflowers? Shouldn't we slow down the boat and throw her out some oranges? The book is really about the subtle beauty and quiet of that time, of the people, the land, the sea, how they all weave together in their poignant understated way all the while portending the loss of this way of life. It's a beautiful book written in light, sympathetic, simple prose.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Illiterate

    Jewett’s understated tales evoke the tender habits and lonely slogs that are the satisfactions and hardships of old age.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sofia

    This will be one of those books that I will read a few years from now and think it was much better than the first time I read it. It is a short little book with a nameless narrator who spends the summer off the coast of Maine in search for what she thought would be some solitude, when what she discovered was that what she really needed was what she found: love and kindness and family in the form of all the characters she came across who were living on these small islands. Every chapter tells the This will be one of those books that I will read a few years from now and think it was much better than the first time I read it. It is a short little book with a nameless narrator who spends the summer off the coast of Maine in search for what she thought would be some solitude, when what she discovered was that what she really needed was what she found: love and kindness and family in the form of all the characters she came across who were living on these small islands. Every chapter tells the story of another character, very intimate stories of love and loss and regret and joy. There is no plot to this story, but lots of descriptive narrative which makes one want to take a vacation just like this. It's a lovely little book and I would only recommend seasoned readers to give this a go because it feels a little dry at first and takes some patience in getting all the way through it.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Reid

    Like sands through the hour glass... "Now and then a bee blundered in and took me for an enemy; but there was a useful stick upon the teacher's desk, and I rapped to call the bees to order as if they were unruly scholars, or waved them away from their riots over the ink... One anxious scribe felt very dull that day; a sheep-bell tinkled near by, and called her wandering wits after it. The sentences failed to catch these lovely summer cadences. For the first time I began to wish for a companion an Like sands through the hour glass... "Now and then a bee blundered in and took me for an enemy; but there was a useful stick upon the teacher's desk, and I rapped to call the bees to order as if they were unruly scholars, or waved them away from their riots over the ink... One anxious scribe felt very dull that day; a sheep-bell tinkled near by, and called her wandering wits after it. The sentences failed to catch these lovely summer cadences. For the first time I began to wish for a companion and for news from the outer world...Watching the funeral gave one a sort of pain. I began to wonder if I ought not to have walked with the rest, instead of hurrying away at the end of the services."

  28. 4 out of 5

    Julie Durnell

    Wonderful characterizations of everyone but the person writing the story, she observes much in her surroundings and the eclectic mix of native islanders she meets and befriends! A slow but enjoyable summer read!

  29. 5 out of 5

    G.

    This is one of my favorite books. It makes me long for the Maine coastline, its islands and people. SOJ is a remarkable writer. I'd write if I thought could be half as good as she is.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Bob

    My only encounter with Sarah Orne Jewett was the short story A White Heron. I enjoyed the story and her writing and looked forward to the day I would come across another of her works. Finally, I came across The Country of the Pointed Firs and it cemented my belief in Jewett’s writing ability, she’s is an exceptionally gifted writer. Her descriptions of both characters and landscape are beautiful. Her writing is straight forward and unpretentiously simple. I don’t mean that negatively. Her words My only encounter with Sarah Orne Jewett was the short story A White Heron. I enjoyed the story and her writing and looked forward to the day I would come across another of her works. Finally, I came across The Country of the Pointed Firs and it cemented my belief in Jewett’s writing ability, she’s is an exceptionally gifted writer. Her descriptions of both characters and landscape are beautiful. Her writing is straight forward and unpretentiously simple. I don’t mean that negatively. Her words are charming in a plain spoken manor. Yet, her words are graceful and lyrically poetic. I was calmed by the way she told the story. It was a kind of warm and cozy feeling. Imagine listening to a friend reminisce about the best summer of her life. You are sitting in a comfortable room, maybe a fire in the fireplace, next to a picture widow featuring a view of your favorite type of scenery. The story told with tranquil emotion, told so clear that you feel like you are reliving a memory of your own. That’s Jewett. You live the story, not just read the story. It was a terrific reading experience.

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