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The Country of the Pointed Firs

3.72  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,668 Ratings  ·  193 Reviews
Sarah Orne Jewett's The Country of the Pointed Firs was published in 1896, and it quickly garnered a reputation for its truthfulness and the quality of its writing. Rudyard Kipling described it as 'immense--it is the very life,' and Henry James praised it for being 'absolutely true--not a word overdone--such elegance and exactness.'

The Country of the Pointed Firs, is a con
Hardcover, 247 pages
Published November 1st 2000 by Modern Library (first published 1896)
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The Cider House Rules by John IrvingThe Country of the Pointed Firs by Sarah Orne JewettEmpire Falls by Richard RussoThe Beans of Egypt, Maine by Carolyn ChutePet Sematary by Stephen King
Books Set in Maine
2nd out of 175 books — 76 voters
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar WildeDracula by Bram StokerThe Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar WildeThe Time Machine by H.G. WellsThe Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle
Best Books of the Decade: 1890s
28th out of 229 books — 186 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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This absolutely delightful volume brightened a few dreary winter days for me with its eccentric characters and "down-home" atmosphere. The narrator, a writer who spends a summer as a boarder in the home of a widow in a coastal Maine fishing village, describes the beauty of the landscape, the gentle manner of the local folk, and their simple way of life. The reader cannot help but grow fond of these people as they share their daily lives, their treasured memories, and their special occasions with ...more
Sara Steger
Feb 19, 2016 Sara Steger rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
What a sweet, lovely book. Composed of a series of vignettes that are bound together by an overstory of a young lady spending the summer in Dunnet Landing, Maine. Jewett does a spectacular job of portraying the people who populate this seafarer's town and its neighboring islands. She captures both their relationships and sense of community and their naturally reticent and independent natures.

Every occupant of this town has his own unique tale, and while there is no driving plotline, but more a
Aug 16, 2013 Carl rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Free download available at Project Gutenberg.

And the audio version is available at LibriVox.


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

Mar 28, 2010 Lobstergirl rated it liked it
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
Aug 08, 2011 janine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2011
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
Elizabeth (Alaska)
I'm glad I finally got to this. It is a collection of vignettes that make a novel, in much the same way as is Olive Kitteridge a novel. The stories are in the individual chapters, but the thread between them is strong. This is a quiet book, told in the first person by a visitor to a Maine fishing village. Ketchikan was one such town before tourism arrived and a good portion of our population continues to make its livelihood by harvesting the sea. Though we are on opposite coasts, I was able to r ...more
JG (The Introverted Reader)
A woman spends a couple of summers in a small town on the coast of Maine. She becomes a part of the everyday life thanks to her garrulous landlady and becomes privy to many of the residents' life stories.

I read this back in college and loved it so much that I still have my copy from that class. I decided to re-read it when my husband and I visited the coast of Maine last month. I might love it even more now.

The narrator, who remains unnamed, is accepted in this tightly-knit community, but she's
“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
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
Ben Loory
Apr 03, 2009 Ben Loory rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
This will be one of those books that I will read a few years from now and think it was much better than the first time I read it. It is a short little book with a nameless narrator who spends the summer off the coast of Maine in search for what she thought would be some solitude, when what she discovered was that what she really needed was what she found: love and kindness and family in the form of all the characters she came across who were living on these small islands. Every chapter tells the ...more
Oct 23, 2015 Consuela rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 10, 2014 Alan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 07, 2013 Reid rated it really liked it  ·  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
Marts  (Thinker)
Apr 01, 2011 Marts (Thinker) rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, 2011-reads
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...
Alex Pler
Dec 08, 2015 Alex Pler rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Incesante parloteo de dos pueblerinas y sus cotilleos con los vecinos defendiendo que cualquier pasado fue mejor. Es posible que el problema sea mío y no esté hecho para un libro así.
"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
Kirsten McKeown
Mar 10, 2013 Kirsten McKeown rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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
Jun 20, 2013 Abbie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 14, 2011 Rebecca rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 14, 2015 Kerry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was really surprisingly lovely, and the second to last chapter made me cry on the Tube! It's a series of vignettes, which have a bit of a narrative but not really, about Jewett's summerliving in a fishing villagein coastal Maine withaherbalist/apothecary landlady. The pointis basically that people are odd and wonderful. This sounds really boring but it is not boring. ...more
Ana Maria Rînceanu
This was the type of book you take your time with. You'll want to get a cup of tea and have your fireplace ready / your blanket sent under the shade before you delve in. Sarah Orne Jewett gives us a narator who fails in her desire to be unattached to her surroundings in order to write, befriending her landlady, Mrs. Todd. She treates the people around her with a respect befitting those who have lived life in harder condtions, while maintaining an uncanny vigour and charm. By the end of the book ...more
Apr 15, 2012 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, garden
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
Becky Sharp
Mar 16, 2016 Becky Sharp rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Uno de esos relatos llenos de encanto. Las conversaciones, los personajes que concen, las costumbres... Una pequeña maravilla.
Nov 28, 2012 Sheri-lee rated it really liked it
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
El Buscalibros | Tu web de recomendaciones literarias
Decía William Faulkner que todo escritor quiere ser poeta, cuando se da cuenta de que no puede, escribe cuentos y cuando se percata que no tiene la destreza suficiente, finalmente se convierte en novelista. Seguro que no quería demeritar a sus compañeros de oficio que lo admiraban y envidiaban: si alguien supo escribir novelas fue precisamente Faulkner, sin duda. Quizá lo que quería decir es que la novela es lo más cercano a la vida misma, a lo que conocemos, a lo que experimentamos en la rutina ...more
Barksdale Penick
Apr 26, 2012 Barksdale Penick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Apr 17, 2016 Laurie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. I was totally swept up into this little town in Maine. My first Jewett, but it won't be my last!
Feb 23, 2012 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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  • The Dialogue of the Dogs
  • The Duel
  • Freya of the Seven Isles
  • The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg
  • My Life
  • The Duel
  • May Day
  • The Lesson of the Master
  • The Squabble
  • The Maine Woods (Writings of Henry D. Thoreau)
  • Rural Rides
  • The Distracted Preacher
  • The Beach of Falesá
  • Los que aman, odian
  • Alexander's Bridge
  • The Lone Pilgrim
  • The Touchstone
  • The Lemoine Affair
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...

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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.” 14 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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