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New England Days: Stories (Our American…

New England Days: Stories (Our American Heritage)

by Sarah Orne Jewett

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Here are 8 stand alone stories set mostly in Maine, many of them featuring 'old' women and how they dealt with the hardships of either widowhood, or spinsterhood, or how the townspeople helped out.

One story "Flight of Betsy Lane" features 3 woman who are living in the 'poorhouse' ---an actual instutituion that existed in New England until 1977. One of them (Miss Lane) is visited by an old friend who gives her some money. She neglects to tell the town selectmen about her good luck, nor does she share the news with her friends. Instead, one mornin' she ups and walks off -- she wanted to go see the exposition in Phillie. Those left behind begin to believe she may have 'done herself in.' When she returns, with small gifts for each of them, she brings enough chatter of the wonders she saw to keep them all in gossip for at least a lifetime.

The last story, The Hilton's Holiday, is the story of a couple who have a barebones existence on a farm. Their only son, who could have been expected to help out and do the hard work with the father, had died. Instead of bemoaning their fate that only daughters were left, they accepted, nurtured and valued them. In fact, Mr. Hilton decides the girls need a little vacation, so he hitches up the wagon and takes them to town (17 miles away!) for a day of sights, treats, and just enjoying a day with their dad.

So well written, and exceptionally well narrated, it just made you ache for the simple life and people who could live with so little and still be happy. ( )
  tututhefirst | May 3, 2009 |
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Eight of Jewett's best stories including 'Miss Tempy's Watchers', 'The Only Rose' 'Martha's Lady' and 'Miss Esther's Guest'.

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