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The Country of the Pointed Firs and Other Stories

3.81  ·  Rating Details ·  1,764 Ratings  ·  178 Reviews
A writer comes one summer to Dunnet Landing, a Maine seacoast town, where she follows the lonely inhabitants of once-prosperous coastal towns. Here, lives are molded by the long Maine winters, rock-filled fields and strong resourceful women.
Paperback, 272 pages
Published November 3rd 2009 by Signet (first published 1896)
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When I decided to read this book again now as a "buddy" read, I had a residual memory from a distant reading maybe 25 or more years ago. A memory that was positive but nebulous. Now I have a new, and, happily, very precise memory to carry forward. I love this book with its portrait of the rural towns and peoples of New England, primarily of the state of Maine and primarily of the town of Dunnet's Landing, seen through the eyes of a visitor from the city, a woman sympathetic to the people and lif ...more
This chronicle of life in a Maine coastal village around the end of the 19 century was a pleassure to read. It's a novel, but each chapter has the feel of a short story, stories of this very quaint place and the people who live there. It's inhabitants are mostly widows, husbands lost to the sea, and aging seamen, all struggling to make a daily living off the land and sea. But best of all, the author paints a visually stunning picture of the landscape and seascape of the setting. Jewett was born ...more
Diane Barnes
Feb 11, 2015 Diane Barnes rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: re-reads
This is the 4th or 5 the time I've read this book, and once again I returned to a simpler time with gentle people in a small Maine village. Most of the women in these tales are widows or spinsters, making the best of their lives despite disappointments and diminished circumstances, finding happiness in small things: a nice cup of tea and a warm fire on a stormy night, an unexpected visit from a neighbor, a beautiful day, or seeing relatives at a family reunion. I read these stories at bedtime, a ...more
Oct 06, 2009 Stephanie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: stories
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
Nov 07, 2007 Sarah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: some-favorites
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.
Feb 03, 2010 Emily rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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
Mar 26, 2008 Werner rated it really liked it  ·  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
Jul 21, 2009 Karen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 06, 2015 Jeanette rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is classically prosed dialect as spoken in a certain mid-summer place and time. It is exquisite. The locale is late nineteenth century into earliest 1900's Maine coastal town- and the web of islands that surround its rocky shores. Surroundings are detailed to form and purpose and entwined within its occupants' mood. The characterizations of these elder women, the visitor and some of the sea-faring men who visit come completely alive. Beautiful read.
Feb 08, 2008 Suzanne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classic
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.
Aug 03, 2016 Quo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Country of Pointed Firs by Sarah Orne Jewett is not a book many would lift off the library shelf but I'd read a few of her short stories, including one that I used successfully in an intermediate level ESL class with a large variety of students. For that reason, I was curious to read the author's longer work and found its descriptions of Maine landscapes to be interesting but exceedingly bleak. Entering Jewitt's world was like being cast backward into a time near the start of the 20th Century, t ...more
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
Jan 16, 2016 Oodles rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Written in 1896 (the year after my grandmother was born, this book made me think so much of my own life and family. I was continually distracted as I made comparison after comparison of life in a small rural community where all such small towns run together. It just made me think of the simpler time of my own life - back when there were noo computers, no pagers, no cellphones ringing all the time. We had one phone (and the number was always something like Oxford 2-3462) and a black and white TV ...more
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
Mar 27, 2008 Chab rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 30, 2015 Deyanne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classic
I share the nostalgia and love for the people of Maine depicted through the imaginary narrator in this lovely novel. Our spokesperson comes to a small town to find inspiration and solitude. Her generous and open heart invites her into the lives of these isolated folks, and I like to think that she is forever changed.

For example, when the narrator travels to an isolated island to meet the mother of her hostess, Mrs. Todd she writes, "Lookin' pretty well for an old lady, ain't she?" said Mrs. Todd
Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.)
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
Sep 25, 2007 Tom rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Published in 1896, this well known novella covers the summer stay of a fictional seacoast town in Maine. There is little plot, merely some interesting portraits of local characters and charming depictions of typical village scenes and events intended to evoke a way of life that was disappearing even then. An old sea captain entertains her with tales of his career and a shipwreck. The visitor befriends her herbalist landlady and accompanies her on forays, including a boat trip to visit her mother ...more
Apr 29, 2009 Crystal rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, fiction
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
Dec 09, 2009 Robert rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
May 05, 2009 Bonnie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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_______________.
Don't look for any real plot or story here. It reads more like a collection of short, local color, stories.
Jul 08, 2014 Gort rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Vel magni assumenda minima vero perferendis perspiciatis provident. Exercitationem aut similique facilis. Sint enim nulla atque architecto ad incidunt eos. Nam velit ea aut tempora labore.
Christina Santo
I was supposed to read this for school, but I didn't finish it...
Dhara Mehta
Jan 28, 2017 Dhara Mehta rated it really liked it
The Willa Cather of Maine!
Nov 02, 2010 Chamois rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Oct 21, 2009 Anne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 17, 2016 Thomasin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful -- hard lives and sweet souls. Reminded me of L.M. Montgomery's work in a way...
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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...

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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.” 21 likes
“In the life of each of us there is a place remote and islanded, and given to endless regret or secret happiness.” 4 likes
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