The Country of the Pointed Firs by Sarah Orne Jewett is a charming novella about life in a small Maine village in the late 1800s. It is narrated by an unnamed female writer who spends her summer there, boarding in the home of a Mrs. Todd. The quirky characters are self-sufficient and generally content with their lives. The one exception is a woman who believed she had committed the “unpardonable sin” and became a recluse on a nearby island. Other characters include a Sea Captain who told fanciful stories about a locale that was “a kind of waiting-place between this world and the next. ” There are stories about Mrs. Todd’s shy brother and another man who deeply grieves the death of his wife who he calls “poor dear.” The elderly residents are respected and cherished, especially Mrs. Todd’s mother who lives on a near-by island with her son.
I was deeply impressed by the beauty of Sarah Orne Jewett’s writing. Even her description of a family reunion gave the event almost a holy quality. “Such is the hidden fire of enthusiasm in the New England nature that, once given an outlet, it shines forth with almost volcanic light and heat. … Each heart is warm and every face shines with the ancient light. Such a day as this has transfiguring powers, and easily makes friends of those who have been cold-hearted, and gives to those who dumb their chance to speak, and lends some beauty to the plainest face.” This scene along with many others showed our deep human need to belong.
This classic novella was first published in 1896. It is solely a character study. There is no plot, no deep conclusions to be drawn. It is just a pleasant way to dwell on a simpler life and time.
4 Stars. My Book Club friend Kathy G. recommended this delightful book.
Instead of posting photos of soup, I decided to share some pictures of my Super Fun trip to Maine in July 2019.