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The Country of the Pointed Firs (1896)

by Sarah Orne Jewett

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
8201920,699 (3.85)155
An endearing, unlikely friendship set against the backdrop of a beautiful Maine coastal town provides the setting for what is considered to be Sarah Orne Jewett's finest work. Loosely structured, the narrative is unified through both setting and theme and can be read as a study of the effects of isolation and the hardships encountered in the face of decaying industry. The moving prose invites the reader into an intimate portrait of a New England town and its characterful inhabitants whose prickly exteriors often conceal a warm and loyal nature.… (more)
  1. 30
    Anne of Windy Poplars by L. M. Montgomery (atimco)
  2. 20
    Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell (gennyt)
    gennyt: England rather than New England, inland rather than by the sea, but a similarly gentle, episodic celebration of mainly women's lives and friendships written from the point of view of a visitor who is made welcome in the community.
  3. 10
    Lark Rise to Candleford by Flora Thompson (atimco)
    atimco: Both are narrated by a semi-outsider and share a quiet, contemplative, sometimes humorous tone. Both authors evidently desire to use their fiction to capture a disappearing (or disappeared) way of life.
  4. 10
    Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh (atimco)
  5. 00
    A Month in the Country by J. L. Carr (amanda4242)
  6. 00
    Among the Isles of Shoals by Celia Thaxter (Bjace)
    Bjace: Both books deal with small communities in New Englad by an outside narrator.
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» See also 155 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
This is a lovely work which, in structure, put me slightly in mind of 'Cranford'- the narrator plays a minor role, being there mainly to describe the characters around her.
She- a writer- spends a summer in the idyllic Maine fishing village of Dunnet's Landing. Accompanying her landlady- a widowed herbalist- on frequent plant foraging expeditions; visiting the woman's elderly mother on a remote island; chatting with local seafarers...There's no plot, as such, it's just beautifully written and the reader feels a sense of loss as her sojoorn comes to an end, and the vividly drawn Maine community is left behind...
Quite lovely! ( )
  starbox | May 4, 2021 |
A lovely, charming, and occasionally haunting series of sketches set in a declining fishing village in coastal Maine. I can see why Willa Cather admired Jewett’s sense of place. ( )
  LudieGrace | Aug 10, 2020 |
Sarah Orne Jewett is a beautiful writer. Not a whole lot of action happens in this gem. You just follow the life of a woman who decided to summer in a small fishing village in Southeastern Maine. As time goes along, the woman meets the local characters and involves herself in local life. Not exciting stuff, perhaps, but very interesting and compelling reading. I found it rather amusing that the people in such places more than a century ago talked fondly of the "good old days" and how things have changed, but likely not for the better. And so it goes.... ( )
1 vote lgpiper | Jun 21, 2019 |
I have no idea where this book came from, sometime in the past few years it just sort of appeared on the bookshelf in my old room at my parents...I probably picked it up at a yard sale before leaving for school one summer.

The prose is engaging, features dead-on dialect, and good folkisms; it's real slice of life stuff - so nothing really happens.

Thirtysomething Victorian Woman Author Stays in Rural Coastal Maine Town for Summer and Makes Friends. The narrator supposedly is working on some project but she, unnamed, never mentions if she even finishes it. It's just a plot convenience for her to be in town for the whole summer.

But, Jewett does develop her characters nicely and while reading it you begin to experience the setting and the realities of life in coastal Maine at the end of the nineteenth century.

Where Jewett really shines is in her short stories, there are four Dunnett Landing stories that share a narrator and setting with 'The Country of the Pointed Firs', but would not sit well with the novella itself simply because they are such extended portraits and, with the possible exception of the last, so self-sustaining. That last story was one I was glad to read because it offered rare closure.

The other four stories are great, especially "Martha's Lady", which is very neatly done. There is little else I can say about it other than that the tone of sadness and expectation are something else. ( )
  ManWithAnAgenda | Feb 18, 2019 |
One of my favorite books, for the sheer lyricism of the writing. I decided to re-read it recently and it still holds up beautifully. ( )
1 vote mrsmig | Jan 19, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (16 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Sarah Orne Jewettprimary authorall editionscalculated
Whitman, Sarah WymanCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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(Note) Sarah Orne Jewett (1849-1909) was born and died in South Berwick, Maine.
There was something about the coast town of Dunnet which made it seem more attractive than other maritime villages of eastern Maine.
Quotations
My heart was gone out o' my keepin' before I ever saw Nathan; but he loved me well, and he made me real happy, and he died before he ever knew what he'd had to know if we'd lived long together. 'Tis very strange about love. No, Nathan never found out, but my heart was troubled when I knew him first. There's more women likes to be loved than there is of those that loves. I spent some happy hours right here. I always liked Nathan, and he never knew. But this pennyr'yal always reminded me, as I'd sit and gather it and hear him talkin'—it always would remind me of—the other one."
In these days the young folks is all copy-cats, 'fraid to death they won't be all just alike; as for the old folks, they pray for the advantage o' bein' a little different."
I hoped in my heart that I might be like them as I lived on into age, and then smiled to think that I too was no longer very young. So we always keep the same hearts, though our outer framework fails and shows the touch of time.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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An endearing, unlikely friendship set against the backdrop of a beautiful Maine coastal town provides the setting for what is considered to be Sarah Orne Jewett's finest work. Loosely structured, the narrative is unified through both setting and theme and can be read as a study of the effects of isolation and the hardships encountered in the face of decaying industry. The moving prose invites the reader into an intimate portrait of a New England town and its characterful inhabitants whose prickly exteriors often conceal a warm and loyal nature.

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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

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