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Followed by the Lark: A Novel by Helen…

Followed by the Lark: A Novel (edition 2024)

by Helen Humphreys (Author)

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315778,602 (4.06)13
"Inspired by the letters and diaries of Henry David Thoreau, this moving novel inhabits his life and mind"--
Title:Followed by the Lark: A Novel
Authors:Helen Humphreys (Author)
Info:Farrar, Straus and Giroux (2024), 240 pages
Collections:Your library, ebook
Tags:Henry David Thoreau, Transcendentalism

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Followed by the Lark by Helen Humphreys


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Using his journals as source materials, Helen Humphreys outlines the life of Thoreau as a solitary, pensive man from childhood until his death at age 44.
His short life is marked by loss and change which he struggles to deal with.
Through the book we are introduced to Ralph Waldo Emerson and the Transcendentalist movement of which Thoreau was member.
The prose of the book is quiet and slow moving through time and space. Sometimes it was a little too slow for me. ( )
  tangledthread | Jun 11, 2024 |
[Followed by the Lark] by [[Helen Humphreys]] was wonderful. It’s about Henry David Thoreau but more about his everyday inner life then any accomplishments. IT’s a very quiet book. Henry is an observer of nature and nothing gives him more joy. Every change of season seems new to him and throughout his life he sees things he hadn’t observed before despite being in the same spot over and over - like the details of a blueberry bush. I don’t think I would enjoy any other book about Thoreau as much as this one. This book was so tied to nature and a love of nature. The ending was so perfect that I gave it 5 stars. Sometimes a last sentence can push a book from 4.5 to 5 for me and this one did just that. ( )
  dianeham | May 5, 2024 |
THE LARK delivers great leisure reading pleasure while covering new aspects of Thoreau's life through his journals.
We may never look at a Willow Tree leaf in the same way!

As a Harvard graduate, a surveyor, and a worker and owner of the Thoreau Pencil Factory,
his turn to Nature for inspiration and love makes an unusual tale
of slow moving episodes woven with boat and hiking trips and the grief and friendship of his Family, notably his sister, Sophia.

Sure wish she had kept journals or written stories!

That the Thoreau Family helped slaves on the Underground Railroad to journey North was welcome to read,
as were Henry's flute playing tributes to his brother, entwining them with bird, tree, and wildlife sounds.

I wish that more of his seclusion with nature at Walden Pond had been included and that there was a lot less
shooting, hunting, killing and descriptions of animal murders.

The plot was neatly channeled into time slots as The Civil War slowly evolved into destruction... ( )
2 vote m.belljackson | Mar 23, 2024 |
This is a lovely book. Written about the life of Henry David Thoreau, the pace is just right. A member of the Transcendentalist movement, Thoreau looked to Ralph Waldo Emerson for a way to live simply, with a hightened awareness of nature and creation with a deep belief in the supremecy of the goodness of humanity.

Best known for his book on his time lived on Walden Pond, located in Concord, Mass. where he lived two years, two months and two days. He built a cabin overlooking the water and each day her recorded the sounds, thoughts and feelings experienced during his time there.

His book is a staple for any college American Literature class. I've read many of Humphrey's books, and they never disappoint. If you are looking for a book of excitement, this won't be the book for you. But if you are looking for a well written book that speaks to a quiet life of simplicity, then you may like this one!

I've visited Walden Pond 2-3 times, and each time it was a joy to walk quietly through the soft ground of leaves and pine needles in the lane leading to where his cabin was. There is a cairn next to where the cabin was.

Highly recommended!

4.5 Stars ( )
2 vote Whisper1 | Mar 23, 2024 |
I really enjoy Helen Humphreys' writing. She has a way of putting words together that lets the reader float along, buoyant almost. My absolute favorite of her books, The Frozen Thames, offers a rich series of vignettes of, yes, the frozen Thames. It's historically informed, taking readers from one winter to another, observing the subtle changes that become huge over time.

In terms of style, Followed by the Lark is very like The Frozen Thames. The chapters are brief, the language nothing less than a pleasure. Followed by the Lark tells the story of Henry David Thoreau, opening with brief childhood and college scenes, then moving on to his adulthood. Humphreys spent an enormous amount of time with Thoreau's journals both before and while writing this book. In the book as in life (and his journals, I assume), subtle changes gradually develop into much bigger things. Followed by the Lark is written in third person and focuses on small moments: a walk with a neighbor, a search for a specific flower, an unexpected meeting with a hummingbird. The details of the natural world are ever-present. Thoreau marvels at them, and the reader sees them both through the mind's eye and Thoreau's eyes.

Humphreys' Thoreau generally holds people at a distance. He prefers silent rambles through the words and again and again bemoans the conversation his walking partners seem to view as a necessity. Over time, he finds the imperfections in almost everyone. He'll withdraw, then sometimes come a bit closer again when he sees his own imperfections, and they remind him to be more generous of spirit with others.

Fore readers looking for a "capital N" novel or a biography, Followed by the Lark will disappoint. It certainly isn't plot-driven. It's more a mood piece, an invocation and extended exploration of a way of looking at the world. There's no point where the reader begins to race through the pages, full of "what next?" questions. But when you've had enough of racing and questions reading Followed by the Lark can be an experience of a deep and comfortable peace.

I received a free electronic review copy of this title from the publisher via Edelweiss; the opinions are my own. ( )
  Sarah-Hope | Jan 30, 2024 |
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