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The Bent Twig

3.85  ·  Rating Details ·  61 Ratings  ·  21 Reviews
Unlike other young women of her generation, who were “bred up from childhood to sit behind tea-tables and say the right things to tea-drinkers,” Sylvia Marshall—the “twig” of this novel—was reared to think for herself and to trust her own instincts and experience. This, coupled with her passionate temperament, makes Sylvia a compelling figure as she resists efforts to mold ...more
Paperback, 416 pages
Published July 31st 1997 by Ohio University Press (first published 1915)
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Opening: Like most happy childhoods, Sylvia's early years lay back of her in a long, cheerful procession of featureless days, the outlines of which were blurred into one shimmering glow by the very radiance of their sunshine.

Montessori - who knew? Not I. So I had to find out:

Children are to be respected as different from adults and as individuals who differ from each other.

Children possess an unusual sensitivity and intellectual ability to absorb and learn from their environment that are unlike
Aug 19, 2008 Janet rated it liked it
A peculiar reading experience, as the intellectual ideas Canfield explores here are quite dated. Canfield was interested in Montessori and socialism. The entire book is focused on the heroine's struggles in choosing between a life of amoral beauty or simplicity and comradeship. Guess which she chooses? It's actually a good read. Canfield's characters are interesting and complex enough to shine through the didactic tone.
Jul 19, 2015 Gale rated it liked it
“An American Edwardian Soap Opera in Slow Motion””

What comes to mind when you hear the term, the “bent twig?” Does it suggest a small branch whose normal direction has been accidentally thwarted or deliberately redirected in its growth? Now add the concept that this “twig” is actually a young, impressionable girl growing up in Edwardian America. Will she survive the attempts to experiment with her character formation--to ultimately mature into her true self, or undergo cruelly meddlesome socia
J. Boo
Jul 27, 2016 J. Boo rated it it was ok
"Who am I, an obscure, poverty-stricken music-teacher out of the West, to fancy that I have but to choose between two such men, two such fortunes?"

You may be obscure, poverty-stricken, et al, but you're also the drippy lead character in an underwhelming romantic novel. Rather frustratingly, you are additionally present at a few well-done scenes, just enough to have kept me reading, but not enough to make me happy about having done so.

More in-depth review to follow.
Gillian Brownlee
Sep 16, 2015 Gillian Brownlee rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-i-own
It's rare to find a book that tells the entire life story of a single character rather than just alluding to her past. I thought it would be dull, but it gave me such an understanding of Sylvia and her family that I understood every decision and every mistake she made. And when the end of the book came around, I was so thrilled at her happiness because I knew everything she overcame to get there. Dorothy Canfield Fisher is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors.
Aug 31, 2011 Kay rated it really liked it
The first three-quarters of this novel are superb. It's an old-fashioned novel of ideas, especially regarding education at all levels, from pre-school to higher education. (The word Montessori is never mentioned, but apparently Fisher was an early proponent of the concept.) The other major issue is distribution of wealth and how money affects those who have a lot of it.

The story, set in an unnamed college town west of the Mississippi before WWI, concerns a professor of economics, his remarkable
May 30, 2010 Amy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, fiction
I'm halfway through this wonderful novel, my first by this author, and thought I'd see what other readers had written about it on goodreads. Surprisingly to me, one mentioned its Montessori and socialist underpinnings...certainly it's a more modern (I hesitate to use that word, though) view of life, society, than I would have thought even existed in 1916, the year this book was published.

I am really enjoying, no other word for it, Canfield's exploration of educational methods. As well, her descr
Barbara Mader
It's been a week or so since I finished the book, and, somewhat to my surprise, I often find myself recalling certain scenes or phrases from the story. I did find it rather overwrought and also didactic at times, but it has its strong points too, with memorable characterization of even relatively minor characters. I don't think it's a spoiler to say that I found the father's reaction to something toward the end of the book so out of character as to be unbelievable (as I found the extremity of qu ...more
I really, really enjoyed this book. It follows a child named Sylvia Marshall and her family as she grows up. She is faced many times with the decision to follow they way she was raised in humble, loving, hard-working surroundings or follow the more wealthy and leisurly alternatives that become available to her. It is a coming of age story and a love story. Many of the ideas in this book are still so applicable to today. I was very pleasently surprised by the book as my copy is very old and it di ...more
May 14, 2012 Danielle rated it really liked it
I just finished "The Bent Twig" this morning. At this point, I think it was a very worthwhile read, but I'm not sure if I actually liked it. I think that some of the issues that it explores, especially the aesthetic ideals that Sylvia is drawn to, must have become pretty irrelevant just a few years later, in the face of WWI. It's that glimpse of those completely foreign ideals that makes the book interesting, but idea that anyone could take living a beautiful life to such an extreme, or could be ...more
Larry Tysome
Mar 17, 2015 Larry Tysome rated it liked it
This book was always going to find favour with me, simply because I identified with the father who, despite social pressures to conform, did not, and his family had a richer life for it. Aside from that, it is a book about being true to yourself (first you have to decide what kind of self you are as opposed to the more temporary person we think we are, and project to the world at any one point in time). It takes the whole book for Sylvia to get there, but that's the journey of the book! I mark i ...more
Nov 02, 2010 Nancy rated it it was ok
This book started off so well, and very open-minded and liberal-thinking for a book written in 1915. But the end of the book had the main character acting in a way I don't think she would, too blind to some of the behavior around her. It was flat and preachy at the end.
May 17, 2012 Karen rated it really liked it
I remember this author was popular when I was a kid. I looked her up and she lived in Vermont all her adult life and many of her books are set there. She brought the Montessori School to America, her father was President of Ohio state, and this book was surprisingly very good - even today.
Sep 14, 2009 Carmelle rated it really liked it
This was one of the best fictional books I have read in a while. Written almost 100 years ago, the themes are still pertinent today.
Jul 28, 2012 Lesley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was really, really good - much more subtle than I feared it might be on the basis of having read Understood Betsy, her classic for children. And compellingly readable.
May 08, 2010 Ncrdusa rated it it was amazing
Wonderful! Dorothy Canfield Fisher is an author I discovered through Amazon Kindle's Recommended for You listings. I so enjoy her books - and this one especially.
im not really finished i just stopped after i gave up on trying to keep track of all the bazillions of characters and the meandering plotline. :P
Inhabiting Books
Very long book, interesting characters. I liked it, but I can't decide how much.
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Dorothy Canfield Fisher (February 17, 1879 – November 9, 1958) was an educational reformer, social activist, and best-selling American author in the early decades of the twentieth century. She strongly supported women's rights, racial equality, and lifelong education. Eleanor Roosevelt named her one of the ten most influential women in the United States. In addition to bringing the Montessori meth ...more
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