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The Country Of The Poi...
Sarah Orne Jewett
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The Country Of The Pointed Firs

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  2,144 Ratings  ·  265 Reviews
The Country of the Pointed Firs is an 1896 short story sequence by Sarah Orne Jewett which is considered by some literary critics to be her finest work. Henry James described it as her "beautiful little quantum of achievement." Ursula K. Le Guin praises its "quietly powerful rhythms."[1] Because it is loosely structured, many critics view the book not as a novel, but a ser ...more
Published September 1st 1991 by David R. Godine Publisher (first published 1896)
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Sarah Orne Jewett was born in 1849 to a well to do New England family. Her family split their time in Boston while summering in south Bostwick, Maine. Jewett exhibited that she wanted to be a writer early on, and, after striking up a friendship with editor William Dean Howells, her stories began to appear in the Atlantic. Her most famous collection of stories, which can also be known as a novella and has gained inclusion in 500 Great Books By Women by Erica Bauermeister, is The Country of the Po ...more
This short story sequence bored me out of my mind. Other reviewers state that this book appeals to an older, more experienced audience, though I hope I do not have to reread this in my old age. Sarah Orne Jewett's acclaimed novel follows a young writer who spends a summer in Dunnet Landing, Maine. There, she befriends various townsfolk and notices the decline of the Coastal New England town itself.

While perhaps there is something to be said about how Jewett eschews typical plot constructions in
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Apr 15, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jenny (Reading Envy) by: Kate Bolick in Spinster
My note to myself, since I've tried keeping better track of why I add books to my tbr list, is that I first learned about this book in Spinster: Making a Life of One's Own by Kate Bolick. It makes sense, as the "Mrs. Todd" of this book is a wonderful example of a woman living on her own and is quite satisfied, thank you very much. The narrator of this book is a younger woman, boarding with Mrs. Todd so she can work on her writing, and she also qualifies for the spinster test (in Bolick's definit ...more
Magrat Ajostiernos
Simplemente perfecto ♥
Richard Derus
Jan 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Rating: 5* of five

My review is live today at Expendable Mudge Muses Aloud. I gave it 5 stars because Jewett records the social injustice endemic in 19th century Maine in gorgeous, lush writing. I hadn't noticed this when I first read the book forty-plus years ago.
Jan 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
What a sweet, lovely book. Composed of a series of vignettes that are bound together by an overstory of a young lady spending the summer in Dunnet Landing, Maine. Jewett does a spectacular job of portraying the people who populate this seafarer's town and its neighboring islands. She captures both their relationships and sense of community and their naturally reticent and independent natures.

Every occupant of this town has his own unique tale, and while there is no driving plotline, but more a
Aug 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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

Jul 12, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2011
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
Sep 30, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My edition not here - a lovely hardcover with artful illustrations. I'm sure reading that made all the difference. Reading an old mm pb or gutenberg on the e-reader would not have felt meaningful, or given me the experience of giving Jewett's words & ideas the consideration they deserved.

So, I'm glad. I'm glad I got to know this little fishing village in Maine, of over 100 years ago. What interesting people, talking even then about the way of life they were saying goodbye to. Unfortunately f
Mar 26, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  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
“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
Jul 06, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: female, novel, year-1890s

Do you need a lazy extended vacation? Then this is the book for you. You'll see landscapes breathtaking yet familiar, meet people who will welcome you into their homes and tell you stories of their youth. You'll learn to gather herbs and forage for supplies in the coasts of Maine. You'll take day-long or weekend-long trips to a nearby island while folklore swims in your head. You'll never feel hurried or stressed out. But if all this socializing is too much for you, don't worry. You'll find time
Mar 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
I received this book from a Facebook chain mail type scheme where you send the next person on the list a book. ( I generally shun chain letters but this one really worked!) I can see why someone would choose this. It's a slow paced, meditative novella set in a small town in Maine in the late 1800's. An unnamed woman writer stays in town for the summer, meeting the townsfolk and falling into the rhythms of their lives. It's a very short book but I found that I could not read it quickly. Just when ...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
JG (The Introverted Reader)
A woman spends a couple of summers in a small town on the coast of Maine. She becomes a part of the everyday life thanks to her garrulous landlady and becomes privy to many of the residents' life stories.

I read this back in college and loved it so much that I still have my copy from that class. I decided to re-read it when my husband and I visited the coast of Maine last month. I might love it even more now.

The narrator, who remains unnamed, is accepted in this tightly-knit community, but she's
Elizabeth (Alaska)
I'm glad I finally got to this. It is a collection of vignettes that make a novel, in much the same way as is Olive Kitteridge a novel. The stories are in the individual chapters, but the thread between them is strong. This is a quiet book, told in the first person by a visitor to a Maine fishing village. Ketchikan was one such town before tourism arrived and a good portion of our population continues to make its livelihood by harvesting the sea. Though we are on opposite coasts, I was able to r ...more
Jun 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Adriii by: Magrat Ajostiernos
Shelves: drama, historico
Es curioso pensar que estoy segura que en casi cualquier otro momento pasado de mi vida este libro no habría sido para mí. Me habría frustrado su costumbrismo y mi lado más cínico habría rechazado el espíritu de la historia. Pero no ahora; no hoy. Me ha pillado un momento en el que necesitaba la paz que transmite. Un momento en el que ha sido casi terapéutico meterme en ese entrañable universo en el que los pequeños placeres definen una buena vida.
Ben Loory
Apr 03, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Virginia Arthur
Dec 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Maine. Always there, in my mind, a place to get to if I can pry myself away from the west edge of the continent to go to the east edge though I wish I could visit when Jewett wrote this book, describing another edge, the quiet ending of another time on the coast of Maine when quiet boats of all kinds left at dawn to fish while people exchanged produce, wares, herbs, in a time where everyone was a spoke in the wheel of life, connected to one another in some way. The Country of Pointed Firs gently ...more
Nov 10, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A charming tale of life in the slow lane, perhaps equal to Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables, which features less botanical talk, and a less wild, more civilized setting. Green Gables is positively bourgeoise compared to the coastal cottages featured in Jewett. But both novels give a rich sense of the life and character of inhabitants of specific northeastern areas.
In Jewett, one of the lifelong sailors is described as a great reader all his life, which addled his brains a bit. Can this be said
This will be one of those books that I will read a few years from now and think it was much better than the first time I read it. It is a short little book with a nameless narrator who spends the summer off the coast of Maine in search for what she thought would be some solitude, when what she discovered was that what she really needed was what she found: love and kindness and family in the form of all the characters she came across who were living on these small islands. Every chapter tells the ...more
Sep 11, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  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
Marts  (Thinker)
Mar 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
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...
Alex Pler
Oct 17, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Incesante parloteo de dos pueblerinas y sus cotilleos con los vecinos defendiendo que cualquier pasado fue mejor. Es posible que el problema sea mío y no esté hecho para un libro así.
Aug 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of my favorite books. It makes me long for the Maine coastline, its islands and people. SOJ is a remarkable writer. I'd write if I thought could be half as good as she is.
Katie Quinn
Nov 03, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I feel especially crude giving this book a one star rating (I can hear the criticism - "What kind of English graduate student are you?! This is a classic piece of literature!"), but this one just bored me out of my mind. And I'm surprised it's so favorable to so many people on here because literally nothing happens - it's more like a bunch of vignettes featuring extremely boring social interactions. I think it appeals to so many people because it's such a light read with a few really beautiful d ...more
Nov 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Pequeño y precioso
Sep 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
Una placentera lectura costumbrista que cala más por la sensibilidad del como te lo cuenta Sarah Orne Jewett envolviéndote en el ambiente de Dinnet Landing que por lo que cuenta en sí.
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  • The Touchstone
  • Benito Cereno
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...
“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 a day; we understand our fellows of the cell to whatever age of history they may belong.” 18 likes
“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.” 8 likes
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