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Sarah Orne Jewett
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The Country Of The Pointed Firs

3.7 of 5 stars 3.70  ·  rating details  ·  1,397 ratings  ·  162 reviews
Modeled in part on Flaubert's sketches of life in provincial France, this collection of stories offers a richly detailed portrait of a seaport on the Maine coast as seen through the eyes of a summer visitor. Against evocative imagery of the sky, the sea, and the earth itself, Jewett celebrates the friendships shared by the town's women, capturing the spirit of community th ...more
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Published September 1st 1991 by David R. Godine Publisher (first published 1896)
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Lobstergirl
Mar 28, 2010 Lobstergirl rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lobstergirl by: Willa Cather
Shelves: fiction
I agree with Willa Cather that reading this book is kind of like watching paint dry. Actually the way she expressed it was,

If I were to name three American books which have the possibility of a long, long life, I would say at once, The Scarlet Letter, Huckleberry Finn, and The Country of the Pointed Firs. I can think of no others that confront time and change so serenely.


An unnamed female narrator, probably in her 30s, spends a summer in a small Maine coastal town and describes her interactions
...more
janine
The Country of the Pointed Firs is a very quiet novella. It doesn't really even have a plot. Yet somehow Jewett pulls off a masterful work of rumination and lazy summer days, set in rural coastal Maine. This novella's triumph -- it was published originally in 1896 -- is its resistance to the oncoming onslaught of railroad and stylish magazine homogeneity encouraged among American people and places alike.

It's slow going with this novella at first, but, sure enough, by the turn of the last page I
...more
Laura
Free download available at Project Gutenberg.

And the audio version is available at LibriVox.

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.
...more
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
Set in a coastal town of Maine (USA) about a hundred years ago. The characters you'll meet here are practically all old people who stitch, mend clothes, make preserves, stare at the sea, collect herbs and gossip about other people living and dead. Peaceful and serene, with tall pointed firs growing everywhere, crime had yet to be invented in this place and time where people can leave their doors unlocked without worrying about being robbed. If this is going to be made into a movie the only actio ...more
Carl
I read some other comments, and generally this one seems to appeal more to those who are a bit on the experienced side. It makes me realize how favorite books fit one's age. when I was 18, I was forced to read Pride and Prejudice. Hated it. At 23 in grad school. Hated it. At 35, a friend said: "You really should give it a try." Loved it. So, since the book didn't change, that means I did.
As a writer of young adult fiction, this is actually quite encouraging. I'm not a great writer for adults, b
...more
Sylvester
“In the life of each of us, I said to myself, there is a place remote and islanded, and given to endless regret or secret happiness; we are each the uncompanioned hermit and recluse of an hour or day...”


I’ve only come across a few books like this one – so quietly beautiful that it calls no attention to itself, a book so engrossed in its subject that one forgets it was actually written – it feels so like an actual experience. The narrator like a coat one can slip into. Walking with Mrs. Todd, gat
...more
Consuela
This is a short little gem, but don't be fooled by its simplicity. The story is of a woman who is boarding in a small coastal town in Maine for the summer. She's a writer but takes the time to notice the people of the village. Nothing earthshaking happens to the narrator, but she tells the very dramatic stories of the village people in a gentle, understanding way. The people have to trust her before they will tell their stories. An old sea captain (Captain Littlepage) takes the time to tell her ...more
Ben Loory
this is a beautiful book. 88 pages long, 1896. willa cather apparently named this book along with the scarlet letter and the adventures of huckleberry finn as the three soon-to-be-eternal cornerstones of american lit. can't help but notice moby-dick isn't on that short list, which is weird, because while reading this i just kept thinking "wow, this is sort of like moby-dick on land minus all the story and adventure." which i'm not really sure what that means, but hey... this is a great book. it' ...more
Reid
Oct 07, 2013 Reid rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: mortals
Like sands through the hour glass...

"Now and then a bee blundered in and took me for an enemy; but there was a useful stick upon the teacher's desk, and I rapped to call the bees to order as if they were unruly scholars, or waved them away from their riots over the ink... One anxious scribe felt very dull that day; a sheep-bell tinkled near by, and called her wandering wits after it. The sentences failed to catch these lovely summer cadences. For the first time I began to wish for a companion an
...more
Alan
A charming tale of life in the slow lane, perhaps equal to Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables, which features less botanical talk, and a less wild, more civilized setting. Green Gables is positively bourgeoise compared to the coastal cottages featured in Jewett. But both novels give a rich sense of the life and character of inhabitants of specific northeastern areas.
In Jewett, one of the lifelong sailors is described as a great reader all his life, which addled his brains a bit. Can this be said
...more
blueskies982
"The Country of the Pointed Firs" is a gentle, wandering story. It's like a quiet walk in the woods or a trip in a row boat across an inlet.

An unnamed narrator describes her summer trip to the town of Dunnett Landing, Maine. She is staying at a guest house run by Mrs. Todd, a locally known apothecary / herbalist. The narrator explores the town. She meets some of the old sea captains, who talk about the days gone by - when ships came and went from the town harbor. The narrator and Mrs. Todd vent
...more
Kirsten McKeown
This edition, with its beautiful pencil sketches, caught my eye--and I knew it was the perfect time to finally open it and to explore Sara Orne Jewett's book about the people in a Maine seacoast town, circa 1890s. I had wandered past her many times, but never took the time to get to know her work.

And time is just what is required to enjoy these short stories.

I first felt nervous the book would disappoint as I grew acquainted with the narrator, a city woman summering in a room in the home of a c
...more
Abbie
I really enjoyed a Librivox audio version of The Country of the Pointed Firs while I was tending to my garden in June. The herb harvesting and herbal recipes fascinated me since I have many of the same plants and do not know what to do with them. The story characters became alive and felt like my trustworthy neighbors. The narration concerning the private lives of widows and loners was very interesting and compelling. Sarah Orne Jewett is a masterful writer and her descriptions of the Maine coun ...more
Rebecca
Sarah Orne Jewett is amazing. In the same way the Lorine Niedecker completely belongs/embodies the landscape she writes of/in/on, so does Jewett. Her characters aren't worldly or heroic, not by the standards we've been given at least, but they are absolutely amazing in steadfastness, consistency, longevity and influence. Her characters have that kind of "everything there is to see in this world can be found in a patch of earth in my backyard" thing going on. The Country of the Pointed Firs remin ...more
Laura
I found myself strongly disagreeing with reviews claiming that The County of the Pointed Firs was a boring book. Certainly, it is not action-packed, or brimming with plot twists, but I found the way in which the book was written mimicked the time of year the book is set...that is, the lazy summer months. I appreciated it for the same reasons I love Anne of Green Gables, by L.M. Montgomery, and any of Willa Cather's works. I saw into the depths of the characters portrayed, and a vivid description ...more
Sheri-lee
I shall give it a 4 because of her beautiful descriptive writing. There are some passages that are almost rapturous. Its content is somewhat reminiscent of L.M.Montgomery, however, I find it is more a recollection of little scenes than one story--something is missing to push the story along and bring it together. More like a memoir than a story, and if you were to read it that way I think it would seem more satisfying (there is much talk that it reflects much of Jewett's own experience on the ea ...more
Barksdale Penick
This really is a book with the smallest stage--a small Maine fishing village in the 1880s. A visitor comes and stays for the summer with a local character. They take walks, and boat trips, and search for botanical herbs. Our heroine meets most of the village and has some small adventures and that is about it. But there was an atmosphere conveyed that was highly appealing, as if we would all having enjoyed this little summer of her, just as she did. At least, I felt that way.
Jennifer
I enjoyed this series of vignettes of country life. They are held together by the narrator -- a visitor to this small town on the coast of Maine set in the late 19th century. The character sketches of local types are nuanced, sympathetic and interesting. Descriptions of local landscape, the author's fascination with the small-town and coastal culture, and nicely inserted bits of popular wisdom make this a nice if slight read.
Maureen
Apr 23, 2009 Maureen rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Maureen by: ben's reading list. :)
this is a wonderful little book set amongst sea folk. it made me think of poor mrs. unguentine, and i wondered if these were the friends she left behind because if they were, i now understand her dismay a little better. the narrator introduces us to her landlady, mrs. todd, her mother mrs. blackett and a host of other remarkable characters. it was all very folksy and warm, poignant, beautiful and sometimes sad.
Mimi
This was a lovely collection of sketches of the inhabitants of Dunnets Landing. In all the stories, the influence of the landscape and the sea has a major influence on the characters. For anyone who loves Maine, they will immediately appreciate the beauty and the power of the land that Jewett has so beautifully captured. A little known (?) gem of American literature.
Margaret
This book is a well-written, quaint story about a quaint coastal village in Maine told in colloquial Maine. A writer on summer vacation stays at Dunnett Point, Maine, in a boarding house and experiences the social interactions of a small fishing town that has evolved from fishing as its primary trade to something less. She befriends the owner of her boarding house and they have several adventures – sailing out to the mother’s island, riding in a chaise drawn by horses to a huge family reunion, a ...more
Marts  (Thinker)
Written in 1896, this simple yet delightful tale focuses on a writer who vacations at the seaside village of Dunnet Landing, Maine to catch up on her work, whilst there she socialises with Mrs. Todd, a herbalist, and her friends and relations...
Gary Christensen
This is one of my favorite books. It makes me long for the Maine coastline, its islands and people. SOJ is a remarkable writer. I'd write if I thought could be half as good as she is.
Kristina A
I need to be honest in my reviews, right? For the sake of transparency?

I found this book so incredibly boring when I started it that I almost quit a number of times, often avoided reading it, and typically fell asleep while attempting to read it. It took me much longer than it should have to read for that reason. This made me feel like a bad person and worry that I had lost patience. I thought I enjoyed slow narratives.

It was quite amusing to me when, early in the book, the narrator realizes at
...more
Jessica
"when one really knows a village like this and its surroundings, it is like becoming acquainted with a single person" (1).

"deeper intimacy" (4)

"her house was decorated with West Indian curiosities" (7)

"I view it, in addition, that a community narrows down and grows dreadful ignorant when it is shut up to its own affairs, and gets no knowledge of the outside world except from a cheap, unprincipled newspaper. In the good old days, a good part o' the best men here knew a hundred ports and somethin
...more
Jennifer
This is a brief book, a series of fictional sketches about a coastal Maine town at the turn of the twentieth century. The rhythm of the language made me homesick (though I suspect the dialect might be off-putting for other readers), and the descriptions are vivid and a bit romantic. Or Romantic with a capital R. The time spent reading this was a real pleasure, a change of pace from scholarly works and fast-paced fiction.
Jeanne
I listened to this book on CD and am very glad I did. The reader did a wonderful job of bringing archaic Maine colloquial English to life. I loved this book which is really a collection of stories about friendship, community, and individual character. Be forewarned that there is absolutely no action in this book. I happen to love books like this and I don't know why I never happened on this wonderful book before.
Johanna
I had started reading this book many years ago (before I lived in Maine). I enjoyed it, but at some point put it down and never picked it up again...til this past summer. After having lived in Maine for several years, I appreciated it far more than I did the first time, and I think that many people might find this to be true.
While the book is more a series of vignettes than a story with a beginning, middle and end, it paints a picture of a way of life that is significant to the history of Maine
...more
Sarah
Junior year of high school, I wrote a massive term paper on Sarah Orne Jewett – without reading a single thing she had written. I did really well on it, and at the end of the year I felt a bit guilty when my English teacher gave us all little gifts, and mine was a copy of this book. So three years later I finally got around to reading it! It’s a sweet little book, not so much plot-driven as a series of character sketches. She’s considered an important American author, and her descriptions of the ...more
Amanda
The Country of the Pointed Firs and some of Sarah Orne Jewett’s other short stories were peaceful, enjoyable, and sweet but often melancholy. I found that if I was not paying close attention, I would read over pearls of wisdom and thought provoking sentences without even noticing them until a few sentences later (which caused quite a bit of rereading on my part).

I love how Jewett often compared human characteristics to bits of nature. It is so interesting how applicable the metaphors are across
...more
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500 Great Books B...: The Country of Pointed Firs - Sarah Orne Jewett 1 12 Jul 15, 2014 08:44PM  
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  • The Squabble
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  • My Life
  • The Maine Woods (Writings of Henry D. Thoreau)
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Sarah Orne Jewett was an American novelist and short story writer, best known for her local color works set in or near South Berwick, Maine, on the border of New Hampshire, which in her day was a declining New England seaport.
More about Sarah Orne Jewett...
The Country of the Pointed Firs and Other Stories A White Heron A Country Doctor Novels and Stories: Deephaven / A Country Doctor / The Country of the Pointed Firs / Dunnet Landing Stories / Selected Stories and Sketches A White Heron and Other Stories

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“In the life of each of us, I said to myself, there is a place remote and islanded, and given to endless regret or secret happiness; we are each the uncompanioned hermit and recluse of an hour or a day; we understand our fellows of the cell to whatever age of history they may belong.” 11 likes
“I couldn't help thinkin' if she was as far out o' town as she was out o' tune, she wouldn't get back in a day.” 5 likes
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