Anne's Reviews > The Country of the Pointed Firs and Other Stories

The Country of the Pointed Firs and Other Stories by Sarah Orne Jewett
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's review
Dec 13, 09

bookshelves: borrowed, classics, fiction
Read in December, 2009

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 small sea faring community, and the ways in which a community can harbor deep imaginations and philosophies, even when it seems to be an intellectual backwater. Yet I feel there is more than the "local color" movement represented in the book. The narrator is aware and occasionally a mite condescending about the characters who make up the narrative, yet we as readers are aware of her urbanity and contrast it with the simplicity of the community she visits. The narrator acknowledges the busyness and overwhelming nature of life in Boston, a life that finds oneself constantly engaged in unsatisfactory activity, pales in comparison with the life in Dunnet Landing, lived with purpose and awareness of the real what and why of life.

The theme is subtle, but as I reached the last sketches (not quite the right word), I felt that same discord, and found that echo in the choices I make in my own daily life -- seeking a life lived with purpose.

I am woefully out of practice analyzing literature, and doubt that I'll ever really find my way back into that habit, especially considering I have no grades riding on my success! But it was an enjoyable read while at the same time prodding quiet corners of my mind into stronger action, and I'd recommend it to others who enjoy a quiet read.
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Reading Progress

12/11/2009 page 143
47.04% "This is a slow paced read, but what great characters!"
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