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Author: Sarah Orne Jewett
ISBN13: 978-1419157882
Title: The Country Of The Pointed Firs
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ePUB size: 1836 kb
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Language: English
Category: Classics
Publisher: Kessinger Publishing, LLC (June 17, 2004)
Pages: 100

The Country Of The Pointed Firs by Sarah Orne Jewett

SARAH ORNE JEWETT (1849-1909) was born and died in South Berwick, Maine. Her father was the region's most distinguished doctor and, as a child, Jewett often accompanied him on his round of patient visits. She began writing poetry at an early age and when she was only 19 her short story "Mr. Bruce" was accepted by the Atlantic Monthly. Jewett died in 1909, eight years after an accident that effectively ended her writing career. Her reputation had grown during her lifetime, extending far beyond the bounds of the New England she loved.

The Country of the Pointed Firs is an 1896 novel by American writer Sarah Orne Jewett. It is considered by some literary critics to be her finest work. The Country of the Pointed Firs was serialized in the January, March, July, and September 1896 issues of The Atlantic Monthly. Sarah Orne Jewett subsequently expanded and revised the text and added titles for the chapters. The novel was then published in book form in Boston and New York by Houghton, Mifflin and Company in November 1896.

First published in 1896. Last updated Wednesday, December 17, 2014 at 14:16. To the best of our knowledge, the text of this work is in the Public Domain in Australia. eBooksaide The University of Adelaide Library University of Adelaide South Australia 5005

First published in 1896, The Country of the Pointed Firs was considered by Willa Cather to be one of the three novels most likely to achieve a permanent place in the canon of American literature: I can think of no others that confront time and change so serenel. he young student of American literature in far distant years to come will take up this book and say ‘a master First published in 1896, The Country of the Pointed Firs was considered by Willa Cather to be one of the three novels most likely to achieve a permanent place in the canon of American literature: I can think of no others t. .Sarah Orne Jewett was born in 1849 to a well to do New England family. Her family split their time in Boston while summering in south Bostwick, Maine.

A Country Doctor and Selected Stories and Sketches. By Sarah Orne Jewett. Strangers and Wayfarers. Betty Leicester: A Story For Girls. Old Friends and New. The Queen's Twin and Other Stories. Deephaven and Selected Stories & Sketches.

by Sarah Orne Jewett. Publication date 2006-05-13. Topics librivox, literature, audiobook, audio book, novel. Librivox recording of Country of the Pointed Firs, by Sarah Orne Jewett. The Country of the Pointed Firs (1896) is considered Jewett's finest work, described by Henry James as her "beautiful little quantum of achievement. Despite James's diminutives, the novel remains a classic. Indeed, she determined early in her career to preserve a disappearing way of life, and her novel can be read as a study of the effects of isolation and hardship on the inhabitants who lived in the decaying fishing villages along the Maine coast. summary from Gutenberg e-text).

SARAH ORNE JEWETT () was born and died in South Berwick, Maine.

Considered Jewett's finest work, and described by Henry James as her ''beautiful little quantum of achievement. Despite James's diminutives, the. remedy, and its price was but fifteen cents; the whispered directions could be heard as customers passed the windows

This scarce antiquarian book is a facsimile reprint of the original. Due to its age, it may contain imperfections such as marks, notations, marginalia and flawed pages. Because we believe this work is culturally important, we have made it available as part of our commitment for protecting, preserving, and promoting the world's literature in affordable, high quality, modern editions that are true to the original work.
Reviews: 7
I first read "The Country of the Pointed Firs" in college as part of my American Literature class. I had never heard of Sarah Orne Jewett and wasn't looking forward to spending my time reading anything that strayed too far from Fantasy, Adventure, Action, and Science Fiction. But I was an English major and knew there was no way out of reading an assigned book, so when the time came, I regretfully plunged in and was captivated.

I can't tell you how or why I wound up loving this beautifully written little book, but I've come back to reread it once a year. It's written in first person and tells the tale of a woman returning to the coastal town of Dunnet Landing, a place she fell in love with a few years earlier. It's really just the story of her visit, interacting with the quirky townspeople, and then her departure -- that's it. Yes, there were some themes mixed in -- Naturalism, Realism, and some prose mechanics, but as for the story itself, it's a beautiful piece of work -- a beautifully written masterpiece.

I've since visited the coast of Maine, near Berwick, Sarah Orne Jewett's hometown, which a few miles from the coast. There are several historical buildings in Berwick that you can visit that have something to do with the Jewett family -- The Sarah Orne Jewett House, the Jewett-Eastman House, the Jewett Gardens, the Jewett Store, and Portland Street Cemetery where the family is buried. The town is proud of her and her accomplishments, and rightly so.

All those years ago I became a lover of Dunnet Landing and look forward to my annual reading so I can revisit it's streets, buildings, townspeople, and the beautiful, green, fragrant herb garden behind Mrs. Todd's house.
Considered Sarah Orne Jewett’s finest work, this brief book surprisingly runs only about 90 pages in paperback. To classify it as a novel or even a novelette hardly seems accurate because the “plot” is simply that the narrator, a young single woman who is a writer, spends a summer taking room-and-board in the cottage of a middle-aged widow with whom she becomes good friends, as well as friends with other townspeople, some of whom are somewhat odd or unusual “characters,” and almost all of whom have lived in close relationship with the sea. Much of the narrative consists of conversations with the local people who speak a colloquial dialect . (In the two books by Jewett I’ve read so far, the talk of the “folk” characters is, I think, the very best feature of her writing. Listening in on conversations that are likely to warm the heart or bring smiles of quiet amusement will probably be the experience of other readers, too. The people that the reader will have the pleasure of getting to know here live in Dunnets Landing, Maine, and the islands offshore, probably sometime in the last quarter of the 19th century. Jewett is said to have been much more interested in characters than in plots. She supposedly set the purpose of her writing as preserving the ways and the typical talk of the inhabitants of the old-time fishing villages along the New England coast where she had spent much of her early life.)

The narrator’s presence in the story is subtle and unimposing, but her descriptions, thoughts, and responses to people show that, as a character within the story, she is a sensitive person, sociable, kind, and she appreciates the personalities and the lovableness of the other people she meets.

The story begins with a local funeral and the narrator’s subsequent encounter with Captain Littlepage, an elderly, retired ship’s captain who has made a hobby during lonely months at sea of reading the great poets, particularly Milton and Shakespeare. During one of his most challenging voyages, Littlepage learned about the existence of what he believed to be an actual “ghost town” at the North Pole, full of elusive spirit figures. He entrusts the narrator with the details of that tantalizing experience. Littlepage himself, who appears several times in the book as a solitary figure looking out his cottage window, is also a mentally-elusive personage, somewhat lost-seeming and lonely in his old age. One doesn’t quite know “how to take” his stories.

Next, a “strange sail” brings to shore middle-aged Mrs. Fosdick, an old friend of the narrator’s landlady, Mrs. Todd. Discussion between these longtime friends touches by chance upon the tale of “Poor Joanna,” a woman who was jilted in an intense first-love relationship and was so destroyed emotionally and spiritually that she chose to live isolated for the rest of her life, the only human creature upon a small island. In a recounting by Mrs. Todd of a visit she once made with Joanna at her island hermitage, the reader looks into Joanna’s home, her personality, and her mental state. The narrator herself later makes a solitary visit to Joanna’s grave located at Joanna’s former island home, where other people sometimes also make pilgrimages. She thinks of “poor” Joanna, the “plain anchorite...whom sorrow made too lonely to brave the sight of men, too timid to front the simple world she knew, yet valiant enough to live alone with her poor insistent human nature and the calms and passions of the sea and sky.” Joanna’s had been no easy life, not only emotionally, but also from the standpoint of the struggle for physical survival under harsh conditions. (To learn of the ways that other inhabitants showed her kindness and affection from a distance was touching for me.) This story of an unusual life is unusually poignant.

The summer ends with the gayety of a family reunion in which the narrator, watching the company of families as they move across the landscape toward their feasting table, compares them to “a company of ancient Greeks, who might as well have been carrying green branches and singing, going to celebrate a victory or worship a god of harvests.” (With this comparison, as far as I can guess, Jewett must have been thinking about the long genetic endurance of the race of mankind: “...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....” The numerous relatives of Mrs. Todd are revealed to be descendents of French Huguenot emigres, which segment of world population may actually have been typical in that area of New England at the time. Genealogists may be interested to explore the ramifications of this bit of information, even though it occurs in fiction.)

The narrator’s last significant friendship occurs when she is given the opportunity of acquaintance with old Elijah Tilley, a widower fisherman who spends his time knitting and remembering former days of love and work along with his dear attentive wife, whom he misses very much---another of several particularly touching encounters.

In most meetings with people, the narrator tells details about their cottage interiors, noticing the little things that distinguish and reveal the qualities of their hearts and minds. For instance, the reader meets Mrs. Todd’s elderly mother, Mrs. Blackett, of 86 years, a tiny, blooming flower-like person who has “the gift so many women lack, of being able to make themselves and their houses belong entirely to a guest’s pleasure...” She lives alone with her son William, 60 years old, a bashful and silent but genuine soul, on one of the islands off the coast. Out of courteous respect, the narrator is shown into the house through the parlor, however when she is later shown the bedroom, she designates that room as this lady’s “real home,” “the heart of her house.” The room exemplifies Mrs. Blackett because it contains a worn red Bible on the lampstand, her thimble on the window-ledge, and a neatly-folded cotton shirt she is making for William. The narrrator exclaims, “Those dear old fingers and their loving stitches, that heart which had made the most of everything that needed love!”

The central figure of interest in the story is the large, active, authoritative, plain-spoken Mrs. Todd. One first sees her described as a woman turning about in her bushy herb garden, her feet and voluminous skirts brushing and bending almost every slender stalk with which they come in contact, the action of which releases into the air the varied stimulating scents thrown off by the variety of herbs which are the ingredients of her medicines for the townsfolk. These odors are said to awaken in the atmosphere a dim sense of something in the ancient, forgotten past of mankind, which formerly was possibly of an occult nature but which pertains now only to useful, “humble compounds” brewed by Todd with molasses, vinegar, or sugar in a “small cauldron” on her kitchen stove. There is no element of malevolence or power-playing witchcraft in this master herbalist. Mrs. Todd and the village doctor are good friends and talk together on a professional basis about various cases of illness and the doctor’s prescribed treatments. When suffering customers come to her door, Todd talks with them in a kind and motherly voice. Her small income derives from the sale of her elixirs and the taking in of boarders. She has great knowledge and love of many herbs and is constantly gathering them abroad in the landscape at special places she knows where fine specimens grow, some of which she transplants to her garden at home. She also knows a lot about a variety of trees, which she compares to different types of human beings! As a story-teller, Todd is an “entertaining companion.” In varied circumstances, she is a person of “great dignity,” and “a stern and unbending lawgiver.”

A watchful reader will notice that the narrator compares Todd several times to ancient figures, connecting her with antiquity. She is an “enchantress,” an “oracle,” “a rustic philosopher”; she is “like an idyl of Theocritus” she is “grand and architectural, like a caryatide.” After Todd confides the story of two lost loves in youth and her subsequent aloneness, the narrator says that Mrs. Todd, standing there in a special hidden field of the finest pennyroyal, a secret place which holds deep, sad memories for her and which she does not make a habit of sharing with anyone, might have been “Antigone, alone on a Theban plain” and veritably possessed of “a great archaic grief.” (Here again, I’m not sure I understand Jewett’s purpose in connecting Todd and her New England family with classical antiquity--- if there was more to the purpose than I guessed at above.)

The novelist Willa Cather is said to have thought this book of Jewett’s as likely to endure as Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter and Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Henry James considered it a “beautiful...achievement.” Because of such high praise, I was expecting the book to affect me much more strongly than it did. The first time I read it, I had a lot of difficulty concentrating, which also happened to me when I read Jewett’s A Country Doctor. I wondered if my attention wandered because of something about the pace of the writing style, which I at first felt didn't flow but was rough and jerky. I decided to go back and read The Country of the Pointed Firs a second time, and on that reading I didn’t have the same difficulty with the pace and I had a MUCH better reaction to it. I went back over the book a third time, carefully picking up more details. I found details I hadn’t noticed before. For instance, at the beginning of the story the narrator writes about some of the arrangements for her bed and board: “My hostess and I had made our shrewd business agreement on the basis of a simple cold luncheon at noon, and liberal restitution in the matter of hot suppers, to provide for which the lodger might sometimes be seen hurrying down the road, late in the day, with cunner line in hand. It was soon found that this arrangement made large allowance for Mrs. Todd’s slow herb-gathering progresses through woods and pastures....” Previously, I had entirely missed the endearing image of the helpful lodger (the narrator) going fishing in order to contribute to the two ladies’ supply of victuals, thus freeing Todd to gather herbs--- After my third examination of the narration, although I didn’t re-read it in complete detail, I thought the little book was exquisite! Probably, because it’s such a pleasure, I’ll make time in the future sometime to read it once or twice more. It now has a place among my treasured books. (Therefore, I’d advise the prospective reader that although this is a plain, simple narrative, they might plan to read it over again at least once after a first careful reading---just in order to be sure to fully appreciate all items they may have missed. But many readers, with better concentration than mine, may be capable of complete attention and absorption in just one reading.)

I wish I could hear the book read by a good reader able to realistically “speak” the colloquial “talk” which the book is full of.
Our Harmony book group is reading the novella “The Country of the Pointed Firs” by Sarah Orne Jewett. This exquisite work was first published in 1896 and is an outstanding example of regional fiction although it is so much more than that. “The Country of the Pointed Firs” is made up of a series of short chapters that focuses on characters who live stark, simple lives on the islands off the coast of Maine. The story is told by a female narrator, a writer who has fallen in love with the small seacoast town of Dunnet Landing. She lives there one summer, working in seclusion. Dunnet Landing is populated by the elderly; many of the women are widows whose husbands have died at sea. The narrator is a lodger with Mrs. Almira Todd, a woman who gathers local herbs for medicine. Mrs. Todd is sociable and well-liked. Her 86 year old mother, Mrs. Blackett, lives a more isolated existence with her 60 year old son William on an island several miles off the Maine coast; she is esteemed for her generous hospitality. Even family reunions become much relished social occasions. I wish I could do better justice to the beauty of the writing. This novel details the passing of a way of life—life at a slower place. Fisherfolk and their families have become increasingly scarce. People spend the evenings doing small household tasks and enjoying conversation. Jewett is such a keen observer that her characters shine vividly as does the lovely yet harsh Maine landscape. This is a quiet novel and it is one to savor. Never has subsistence seemed so interesting.
This is a slice of historical life from old Maine, told by an authentic voice. This is not a plot driven story, so if you're waiting for action, romance, mystery, it's not happening. What you get is a glimpse into the dynamics of a vanished type of community life. The character sketches of the residents made them seem real and very human, not cartoonish "New Englander" types. I was completely engrossed by the author's account of her season in Down East Maine. Originally published in 1896, authors writing style seems clear and uncluttered, the language more natural than some works from that time period.