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A Gathering of Days: A New England Girl's Journal, 1830-32 (1979)

by Joan W. Blos

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2,769274,410 (3.51)47
The journal of a 14-year-old girl, kept the last year she lived on the family farm, records daily events in her small New Hampshire town, her father's remarriage, and the death of her best friend.

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Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
A Gathering of Days won the Newbery Medal in 1980 and I think it was worthy of the award. I absolutely loved this historical fiction book, including the method used to convey the story through journal entries. The fictional journal details the experiences and thoughts of thirteen year old Catherine Hall, between 1830 and 1832. Though the pacing is slow, the writing is richly layered, with interesting historical facts integrated into the entries.

I couldn't understand some of the low ratings and lackluster reviews on Goodreads. I listened to this solely on audio through Hoopla Digital but out of curiosity downloaded the Kindle sample to view the text. After trying to read it without the assistance of any audio, I think I can understand the frustrations of other readers with this book. It was written in a way to closely imitate the speech and writing patterns of the early 1800s, but the phrasing is much different than our modern speech.

Here is an example:

"Friday, October 22, 1830 : We had a visitor today but nearly failed to admit him. No callers, surely, were expected. And peddlars, tinkers, and the like will not come by till Spring. Thus we ignored the rattling latch—at times the wind will mislead us so—until a voice called out. It proved to be our Uncle Jack and tho’ he protested he was just passing by, I thought he meant to visit. He brought some store sweets, wrapped in paper, and consented to have some cyder."

This would best be enjoyed concurrently reading the text and listening to the audio. If only one option is possible, I'd recommend listening to the audio. Madeleine Potter does an excellent job narrating, allowing the reader to grow accustomed to the cadence and the intended meaning of the odd phrasing.

This story reminded me of the [book:Little House on the Prairie|77767] series, but A Gathering of Days is much more sophisticated. I suspect some middle grade readers won't have enough patience for this story, either due to the writing style or the slow pacing. I really enjoyed the book though I'm viewing it through the lens of a more mature perspective.

My rating: 4.5 stars rounded up to 5.
Original year of publication: 1979 ( )
  LowProfile | Sep 6, 2022 |
A 13-year-old girl grows up in New Hampshire in the 1830's.
  BLTSbraille | Sep 22, 2021 |
Signed by the author ( )
  ME_Dictionary | Mar 19, 2020 |
This book follows two years in the life of Catherine, a young teenager living in New Hampshire in the years prior to the Civil War. The book focuses on the hardships of life during this time in the loss of loved ones, the questions regarding slavery, and the often times rigid social and religious standards. You see Catherine grow and mature through her thoughts on these hardships and the changes that occur with growing up (love and friendships). I love how the reader is shown not just a daily account of activities but the thoughts and feelings of a young woman dealing with many of the same issues of the youth today, but put into context of a long ago time (blended families, learning to obey parents even when we disagree, etc). I loved the book and the writing style of the author and hope to read other historical books by her. ( )
  BookishHooker | Dec 16, 2019 |
  mebrock | Oct 31, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
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To my namesake, Catherine:

I give you this book on your fourteenth birthday, as I turned fourteen the year of the journal; the year that was also my last on the farm tho' I did not know it then.
It was an apt choice ... for are we not, all of us, wand’rers and strangers; and do we not, all of us, travel in danger or voyage uncharted seas?
...now does the present re-pay the past and flow on towards the future.
This year, more than others, has been a lengthy gathering of days wherein we lived, we loved, were moved; learned how to accept.
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The journal of a 14-year-old girl, kept the last year she lived on the family farm, records daily events in her small New Hampshire town, her father's remarriage, and the death of her best friend.

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From the back cover: I, Catherine Cabot Hall, aged 13 years 6 months, 29 days. . .do bebin this journal. So begins this journal of a girl coming of age in nineteenth-century New Hampshire. Catherine records both the hardships of pioneer life and its many joys. Even as she struggles with her mother's death and father's eventual remarriage, Catherine's indomitable spirit makes this saga an often-times uplifting and joyous one.

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