The Country Of The Pointed Firs
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The Country Of The Pointed Firs

3.68 of 5 stars 3.68  ·  rating details  ·  1,189 ratings  ·  154 reviews
"The Country of the Pointed Firs," by Sarah Orne Jewett, is a charming exploration of people whose lives were shaped by where they lived. The book begins with the narrator's arrival in Dunnett Landing, a village that had thrived in the seafaring era that the Industrial Age had all but eclipsed. This collection of stories that makes up "The Country of the Pointed Firs" is b...more
Paperback, 94 pages
Published January 6th 2010 by Createspace (first published 1896)
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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
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
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
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

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
“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
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
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
"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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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...
Aug 15, 2014 Lizzie marked it as to-read-off-my-shelf  ·  review of another edition
Really? None of my Goodreads friends have read this either? I've been meaning to get to this one for years; I thought it was a little more popular-er.

This Google Books scan has an inscription from Christmas, 1896. I love you, internet.
Still combing through the 500 Great Books By Women book list, which got set up as a Goodreads group, and tracking the demographics via spreadsheet (and so can yoouuu).
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
"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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
David R.  Godine
"Immense? It is the very life."
-Rudyard Kipling

"This book tells of a style of life, a gentle, community based existence, that is no longer the norm, but the good heartedness of the characters and the beautiful scenery are still there, for us all to have and enjoy, and that is what makes this book so timeless and charming. The Country of the Pointed Firs is a real American classic, and a marvellous snapshot of New England, and of the unique character of its inhabitants."

"The book was fil...more
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500 Great Books B...: The Country of Pointed Firs - Sarah Orne Jewett 1 2 Jul 15, 2014 08:44PM  
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  • The Man Who Corrupted Hadleyburg
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  • El duelo
  • The Maine Woods (Writings of Henry D. Thoreau)
  • Michael Kohlhaas
  • The Morgesons
  • In a German Pension: 13 Stories
  • The Lemoine Affair
  • Baghdad Diaries: A Woman's Chronicle of War and Exile
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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 (Library of America #69) A White Heron and Other Stories

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“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.” 4 likes
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