The Country of the Pointed Firs

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Houghton Mifflin, 1896 - Fiction - 213 pages
21 Reviews
The Life Uncovered in A Lonely, Hard Fishing Village.. The Country of the Pointed Firs is an 1896 short story sequence by Sarah Orne Jewett which is considered by some literary critics to be her finest work. Henry James described it as her ""beautiful little quantum of achievement."" Ursula K. Le Guin praises its ""quietly powerful rhythms."" 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. The novel can be read as a study of the effects of isolation and hardship experienced by the inhabitants of the decaying fishing villages along the Maine coast. Sarah Orne Jewett, who wrote the book when she was 47, was largely responsible for popularizing the regionalism genre with her sketches of the fictional Maine fishing village of Dunnet Landing. Like Jewett, the narrator is a woman, a writer, unattached, genteel in demeanor, feisty and zealously protective of her time to write.
 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - laytonwoman3rd - LibraryThing

Since there is no trip to the coast of Maine upcoming this summer, spending a few hours in the company of Mrs. Todd, Mrs. Blackett and assorted denizens of Dennett Landing and Green Island is the next ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - scatterall - LibraryThing

I picked up this book after reading Cranford, and if you enjoy one, I think you will enjoy the other. This one takes you through a months-long summer visit to a small seaside town in Maine during the ... Read full review

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Page 43 - Suddenly, as we looked, a gleam of golden sunshine struck the outer islands, and one of them shone out clear in the light, and revealed itself in a compelling way to our eyes. Mrs. Todd was looking off across the bay with a face full of affection and interest. The sunburst upon that outermost island made it seem like a sudden revelation of the world beyond this which some believe to be so near.
Page 17 - 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, which had been, half unconsciously, forgotten. 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. Perhaps the Sunday gown I had put on for the occasion was making this disastrous change of feeling, but I had now made myself and my friends remember...
Page 25 - In the old days, a good part o' the best men here knew a hundred ports and something of the way folks lived in them. They saw the world for themselves, and like 's not their wives and children saw it with them. They may not have had the best of knowledge to carry with 'em sight-seein', but they were some acquainted with foreign lands an...
Page 95 - m, old friends is always best, 'less you can catch a new one that's fit to make an old one out of," she said, and we gave an affectionate glance at each other which Mrs. Fosdick could not have understood, being the latest comer to the house.
Page 76 - She looked away from me, and presently rose and went on by herself. There was something lonely and solitary about her great determined shape. She might have been Antigone alone on the Theban plain. It is not often given in a noisy world to come to the places of great grief and silence. An absolute, archaic grief possessed this countrywoman: she seemed like a renewal of some historic soul, with her sorrows and the remoteness of a daily life busied with rustic simplicities and the scents of primeval...
Page 2 - There were some strange and pungent odors that roused a dim sense and remembrance of something in the forgotten past. Some of these might once have belonged to sacred and mystic rites, and have had some occult knowledge handed with them down the centuries...
Page 161 - The sky, the sea, have watched poor humanity at its rites so long; we were no more a New England family celebrating its own existence and simple progress; we carried the tokens and inheritance of all such households from which this had descended, and were only the latest of our line. We possessed the instincts of a far, forgotten childhood; I found myself thinking that we ought to be carrying green branches and singing as we went.
Page 98 - Indians come down from up country an' left a captive there without any bo't, an' 't was too far to swim across to Black Island, so called, an' he lived there till he perished." " I 've heard say he walked the island after that, and sharp-sighted folks could see him an' lose him like one o' them citizens Cap'n Littlepage was acquainted with up to the north pole,
Page 80 - Almiry, an' to live in a large place where more things grew? Sometimes folks wonders that we don't live together; perhaps we shall some time," and a shadow of sadness and apprehension flitted across her face. "The time o' sickness an' failin
Page 185 - Arguments and opinions were unknown to the conversation of these ancient friends; you would as soon have expected to hear small talk in a company of elephants as to hear old Mr. Bowden or Elijah Tilley and their two mates waste breath upon any form of trivial gossip. They made brief statements to one another from time to time. As you came to know them you wondered more and more that they should talk at all. Speech seemed to be a light and elegant accomplishment, and their unexpected acquaintance...

About the author (1896)

Theodora Sarah Orne Jewett was born in South Berwick, Maine on September 3, 1849. Unable to attend school because of arthritis, she learned about coastal life in New England as she accompanied her father, a doctor, on his rounds. He encouraged both her reading and her writing. When she began submitting fiction in 1867, using the pseudonyms A. D. Eliot, Alice Eliot, and Sarah C. Sweet, her chosen topic was often the life and people of her native, rural Maine. Her first published story appeared in the Atlantic Monthly in 1869 and her first short story collection, Deephaven, was published in 1877. Her first novel, A Country Doctor was published in 1884. Her other works include A Marsh Island (1885), A White Heron and Other Stories (1886), A Native of Winby (1893), Tales of New England (1894) and The Country of the Pointed Firs (1896). She stopped writing in 1902, after a fall left her with severe head injuries. She died of a cerebral hemorrhage on June 24, 1909.

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