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The Country of the Pointed Firs and Other Stories

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3.77 of 5 stars 3.77  ·  rating details  ·  1,280 ratings  ·  142 reviews
In 1896, at the age of forty-seven, Sarah Orne Jewett published this classic novel of a female writer looking for seclusion and inspiration in the coastal town of Dunnet Landing, Maine. Returning to the women and men of small New England towns for the accompanying collection of short fiction, this remarkable volume weaves a colorful and moving tapestry of the grand complex ...more
Paperback, 232 pages
Published February 1st 2000 by Signet Classics (first published 1920)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,155)
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Stephanie
The Country of the Pointed Firs was first published in 1896, when Sarah Orne Jewett was about 47 years old. The only thing I had previously read by Sarah Orne Jewett was “The White Heron,” which seems to be the short story that is always chosen for the anthologies. It is a fine story, but it seems to be a rather limited example of Jewett’s writing, which is otherwise so full of human interactions and details of social life in coastal Maine.

The details are the glory of this book. I learn what it
...more
Emily
1. The Return
There was something about the coast town of Dunnet which made it seem more attractive than other maritime villages of Eastern Maine. Perhaps it was the simple fact of acquaintance with that neighborhood which made it so attaching...

Like the unnamed narrator of The Country of Pointed Firs, I also felt a gentle happiness at my return to Dunnet Landing in my second reading of this book. How I love its quiet serenity. On the surface, it, like Cranford, is about a town full of dear old l
...more
Karen
I have just rediscovered a favorite old author.

One of the antique books from the 1800's sitting on my bookshelf is a collection of Sarah's short stories, and I love every one of them.

The setting for many of these stories is coastal Maine, and so the pull of the sea and the old village way of life is very strong in them.

I'm charmed with her language from the past and the postcard view of a simpler time long gone, when Nature spoke and pies were the solution to the world's problems, when Watchers
...more
Suzanne
Recommended to me by my daughter, this book is just a literary masterpiece. I will never know why I had to read Ivanhoe in high school instead of something like this. I never knew this author existed. Jewett's use of language just sets a standard few authors have ever mastered. I just loved it.
Sarah
i feel that my love for this book indicates that i am actually a 57-year-old trapped in the body of a 27-year-old.
Meghan C.
I completed my annual re-read of Country of the Pointed Firs more in love with it and my native New England than ever. So much so that I did something I had (for some inexplicable reason) not yet done. I continued on and read the titular "Other Stories."

There is something happening in Jewett's writing that borders on perfection. And I don't mean that hyperbolically. Her slice of small town life is not for every occasion, I'll admit it. If you're in the mood for a thriller or something wrought wi
...more
Myles
I have no idea where this book came from, sometime in the past few years it just sort of appeared on the bookshelf in my old room at my parents...I probably picked it up at a yard sale before leaving for school one summer.

Anyway, it is regarded as something of a classic and despite my misgivings at having it be lumped with Huck Finn and the Scarlet Letter, two books I despise, I decided to give it a whirl.

It's full of engaging sentences, dead-on dialect and good folkisms; it's real slice of life
...more
Werner
Apr 05, 2008 Werner rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of 19th-century fiction, esp. regionalist fiction
As a teenager, Jewett was inspired to become a writer by her indignation over the sneering condescension with which summer visitors from Boston treated the country people of her beloved native Maine. "I determined to teach the world," she wrote, "[that they] were not the awkward, ignorant set those people seemed to think. I wanted the world to know their grand, simple lives; and so far as I had a mission, when I first began to write, I think that was it." Most readers of these stories will feel ...more
Hannah
A nice, little known American classic. I've been meaning to read this for years, and I'm glad I did, although it wasn't quite a good as I had hoped for.

It wasn't always an easy book to read, IMO, but the character studies and sense of place were beautifully drawn by Jewett, with some real food for thought to mull over and savor.

This collection of loosely woven story vignettes will likely bore a reader craving plot and action. However, if you're in the mood to cerebrally explore a small Maine coa
...more
Christopher H.
Sarah Orne Jewett was a woman profoundly admired by the young Willa Cather; and, in fact, Jewett told Cather (paraphrasing) 'to stop writing like Henry James, and just tell the story.' Cather was so affected by Jewett's influence that she dedicated her 1913 novel, "O' Pioneers" to Jewett. This collection of Jewett's short stories is magnificent; they are a quiet, pastoral, lovely and idyllic look at a small slice of Americana in a small Maine sea-side village at the end of the 19th century, and ...more
Chab
Mar 27, 2008 Chab rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: those who love both prose and people.
Recommended to Chab by: Mark Twain and Willa Cather
I am in good HISTORICAL company when I state that this short book is one the finest literary pieces ever written by an American. When it was published at the beginning of the 20th Century, America's greatest writers did indeed sit up and take notice. Later it seemed to be forgotten amidst the phony "he-man" fiction of the next generation.

Jewett's prose here is the densest [but not ornate] and most rewarding of almost any American prose I can think of. It is not a book to be read quickly, but it
...more
Tom
No more Maine classics, I promise! But this loosely structured novel from 1896—a collection of sketches set in a fictional coastal town—is an unsung gem and fully deserving of the label "classic."

Jewett (like Miriam Colwell, author of Contentment Cove) was a Down East lady in a Boston marriage; she dedicated her life to Annie Fields, the widow of a prominent publisher. Field and Jewett (with their two maids) spent a month summering in Martinsville, Maine, believed to be the inspiration for Dun
...more
Crystal
While there is not much that is truly remarkable about Jewett's stories, they are, for me, very comfortable. I hope to do more study of her work in the future in order to understand all the reasons that they are comfortable yet unremarkable. The most obvious is that her stories are regional and portray good stories about strong women. Recommended for those who enjoy female writing from the late 19th and early 20th century.

Update 2014 - last summer I visited Southern Maine and the house where Jew
...more
Robert
I wish people had more appreciation for this type of writing. I wish Jewett had written more and I wish more of what she wrote was still available.

I first read an excerpt from the principal story in my college American Lit course and it whetted my appetite for the full novella. Unfortunately, there never seemed to be any urgency about getting to it. In the college course, it was classified as "local color." I prefer to think of it as just very good writing. Jewett's portrayals of dialect and cha
...more
Bonnie
A pleasure to read. If you do visual imagery to relax and go to your happy place, add reading this book with your feet up, by a sweet little pond, sipping a tall drink, add some of your favorite things here_______________.
Tim
Mar 24, 2009 Tim added it
Don't look for any real plot or story here. It reads more like a collection of short, local color, stories.
Jz
I read this so many years ago, when I was 19, and all that I really remember about it is that it made me feel 'other-world-ly' and like I had walked this way before, and I was floating on a cloud of remembrance of somewhere I'd not been before, that made me so content. A wonderful feeling. I'd love to read it again, but I know that it wouldn't be the same experience, and I fear it being less than the wonder I felt, and still do, in some measure.

I hope it takes you unknown places that you recogn
...more
Jennifer
Pastoral, idealized observations of Maine coastal life at the end of the 19th century. I wouldn't recommend the 4 short stories in this collection, as they were overly sentimental (A White Heron, Miss Tempy's Watchers, Martha's Lady, Aunt Cynthy Dallett) but I enjoyed Pointed Firs and the associated stories quite a bit. They are gentle, pleasant; not much happens except a tale is retold or a small discovery made. But they capture the 'ideal' of Nature and the humble man (as envisioned at the tim ...more
Megowen
Mar 31, 2012 Megowen rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Diane
Recommended to Megowen by: Readers' paradise
This small book contains a novella and 4 short stories set place in Dunnet Landing, Mainee, in the late 1800's. Jewett was a native of Maine, and her descriptions of people and places are great. I feel like I am standing next to her in the clearings, the windows, the coast from which and about she is establishing her settings. The characters are unique individuals...the 60 something couple who are finally wed after 40 years of courting, the elderly sea captain who has seen ghosts when marooned i ...more
Chamois
The quote "A man travels the world and returns home to find it" comes to mind when I think of this book. In fact, the very first chapter of "The Country..." (the title novella of this collection) is entitled "The Return." The narrator reinforces the idea that no matter how far away you travel or how much you read, all of life's trials and joys can be found in one single location. Jewett's descriptions of scenery and local plants, people, and the traditions of a town made of sailors - all of thes ...more
Mrsgaskell
I've only read the title novella so far but hope to read the remaining stories soon.

The Country of the Pointed Firs was written in 1896 and the setting is the coastal Maine village of Dunnett Landing. The unknown narrator, a woman of indeterminate age, but not young, is a writer who has taken lodgings for the summer with the local herbalist, Mrs. Todd, a widow in her late sixties. The book consists of a series of vignettes in which there is very little action. For some reason, many of my favouri
...more
Menion
My actual rating for this one is 3.5 stars, too bad this site does not allow for half-stars. Anyhow, this one was a decent read. However, fair warning-there is no plot to this. Absolutely none. Instead, 'Country' is more of an attempt to portray the lives of people in one of those small New England fishing towns-a snapshot in time, if you will. Jewett does a decent job portraying the lives of the people, and there are some neat parts. My personal favorite was the part about Joanna and her self-i ...more
Linda
Now, you see them little peaked-topped spruces an' fir balsams comin' up
over the hill all green an' hearty; they've got it all their own way . . .
I tell you those little trees means business. (p. 203)

Sarah Orne Jewett's The Country of the Pointed Firs and Four Related Tales is a beautifully written story of individuals living in turn-of-the-century rural Maine, their coastal isolation, and how the land and sea shaped their lives.

The author's masterful use of description and unfolding sto
...more
Michelle
Growing up in Maine, I had never visited the Sarah Orne Jewett House. I lived about 8 minutes away from it for 8 years. This past week I visited it for the first time and I was completely caught off guard. The craftsmanship inside was incredible, not to mention the 100+ year old furniture! I picked up this book on a whim and I'm glad I did. To think that such a powerful writer lived so close to where I grew up is incredibly inspiring.

Told by an unnamed narrator, this story unfolds in a small to
...more
Sara
I picked up this book after reading Cranford, and if you enjoy one, I think you will enjoy the other.

This one takes you through a months-long summer visit to a small seaside town in Maine during the 19th century. It is about as eventful as a summer vacation normally would be, there is no great suspense or dramatic action. The narrator is the author, a woman writer boarding with a local herbalist (and renting the small schoolhouse as an office). Visits, meals, walks, and boat trips make up most
...more
Jeff Anderson
I only read the opening novella "The Country of the Pointed Firs" but oh, how beautiful it is. I read where someone once compared this to a painting and I can see why. The story, such as it is, is a recollection of the narrator's summer spent in Dunnet Landing, a coastal town in Maine. The narrator tells of her stay there living with Mrs. Todd and of meeting different people in the town and some of the incidents of that summer. No conflict really exists in these pages, but oh Jewett has a way wi ...more
Anne
I first heard this book mentioned in A Midwife's Tale by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, and it intrigued me, as I hadn't heard the author's name mentioned in any of my literature classes in college, even women's literature classes which made particular use of American authors. I saw the book at the library, and decided to give it a try.

In many ways, I'm not sure what to make of it. The characters are well drawn, interesting and comforting in their peculiar ways. Much of the story is about life in a sma
...more
Sarah
This collection of sketches loosely fits together to form a kind of patch-work novel about the fictional sea-port, Dunnet Landing, as told by the unnamed narrator who has come to reside in the town for a spell. Despite (or quite possibly because) the narrator is an outsider come to work on her writing, she sees the town through leisured- and nostalgia-colored glasses, reflecting on the importance of community, social connections and intimacy in this declining port town that must now survive in a ...more
Roxanne
I first encountered Jewett's work in American Lit, first year of college, and I really admired the short story we read, and had been meaning to read more of her work. Jewett lived in Maine in the late 1800s; she was the daughter of a doctor, and as a child she accompanied him on his rounds and got to know the people of her region really well. As a writer, she does dialect well enough that you hear the voices in your head but without stumbling over odd spellings, which I think is really hard to d ...more
Andrew
As part of a half-forgotten lit class in college, we read Sarah Orne Jewett’s “A White Heron.” It was the sort of story that college lit classes love to anthologize (perfect illustration of binary oppositions, male vs. female, rational vs. romantic), but it had a certain charm to it nonetheless. A few years later, I have actually managed to read the full volume.

On one hand, there are some passages that seem to capture the sort of dreamlike life of a Maine village around the time the great seafar
...more
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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 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 (Library of America #69) A White Heron and Other Stories

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“It was mortifying to find how strong the habit of idle speech may become in one’s self. One need not always be saying something in this noisy world.” 10 likes
“I saw William Blackett’s escaping sail already far from land, and Captain Littlepage was sitting behind his closed window as I passed by, watching for some one who never came. I tried to speak to him, but he did not see me. There was a patient look on the old man’s face, as if the world were a great mistake and he had nobody with whom to speak his own language or find companionship.” 3 likes
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