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A Country Doctor

3.44  ·  Rating details ·  472 ratings  ·  81 reviews
Though not as well-known as the writers she influenced, Sarah Orne Jewett nevertheless remains one of the most important American novelists of the late nineteenth century. Published in 1884, Jewett’s first novel, A Country Doctor, is a luminous portrayal of rural Maine and a semiautobiographical look at her world. In it, Nan’s struggle to choose between marriage and a care ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published April 6th 1999 by Bantam Classics (first published 1884)
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Average rating 3.44  · 
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Sep 06, 2019 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: the boston married
Shelves: 2019
I was complaining a while ago, I said: when people talk about how environment shapes people, the next thing out of their mouths is they talk about prostitutes. Like, in the whole wide world shaping the whole wide race, folks really just want an excuse to shriek “Poor people are sluts.” I’m talkin’ shit about Stephen Crane here, so buckle up.

But here comes Sarah Ann Jewett from the sleepy hamlets of Maine, with the rebuttal. What if, she says - bear with me - but what if some poor orphan was rai
This falls short of three stars—I cannot say I like it. It’s OK. It could have been better.

The story is set in rural Maine in approximately the 1870s and 1880s. It is about a woman who chooses between marriage or being a doctor. We follow her from infancy, this way we see what has shaped her, and into her twenties.

Some of the prose works for me. The descriptions of nature are delightful. Other sections are wordy and old-fashioned, to the point where I was unsure of what was meant.

Although the p
Sharon Barrow Wilfong
While not a riveting story, the plot is a simple one, the beauty of the writing and the landscape of New England she portrays is truly a beautiful record of a time gone.

A young girl is orphaned and raised by a reluctant aunt until a doctor takes over her raising. The girl's name is Nan and she turns out to be an independent, spirited, highly intelligent young lady. Custom says she must marry, but she wants to be a doctor. I guess back then, women weren't doctors or weren't allowed to combine car
Reading pleasure from beginning to end!

The story is set in a time and place when young orphaned Anna Prince must choose between becoming a doctor or a wife. Throughout a 20-year span of her life, a variety of other issues emerge regarding the medical profession as a vocation, conflicts and comfort within and between families, the fish-bowl existence of life in a small community, to name a few. There seems to me a perfect balance between dialogue and prose; between the description of settings an
Jessica Jewett
Nov 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I'm so proud of my ancestor for writing a story with serious feminist elements. I recommend this story to all women who think their great grandmothers in the 1800s were just mousy shrinking violets. This story was a breath of fresh air, yet it was written in the 1880s. I loved it. ...more
Carol Bakker
After listening to the first half I was exultant, sure this was a five star read. Jewett's descriptive writing shines. But it swerved out of that lane (in my mind) to a not-quite-satisfying end when the plot made a crash landing. However, there will be more Sarah Orne Jewett in my reading future. I read and enjoyed The Country of Pointed Firs a few decades ago.

This book asks a good question: What is a young woman to do who has no inclination to marry and raise a family?

Funny thing — the first d
Janisse Ray
Oct 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
This morning I finished A COUNTRY DOCTOR by Sarah Orne Jewett. First published in 1884, it tells the story of a young New England woman, Nan Prince, who wanted to be a doctor and who made the decision not to marry in order to devote herself to her calling. In the book, her mentor Dr. Leslie sits thinking about Nan. "He tried to assure himself that while a man's life is strengthened by his domestic happiness, a woman's must either surrender itself wholly, or relinquish entirely the claims of such ...more
Mar 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Somehow I had never read a book by Sarah Orne Jewett, so I was glad to be introduced to her through a book group as this book is a remarkable feminist novel for being written in 1884.

Anna Prince is brought to her grandmother's house in Maine by her dying mother, and then is taken to live with the town doctor when her grandmother dies. She is a charming little girl, but serious and bookish and becomes interested in medicine at an early age.

Her interest in medicine increases as she grows older. A
Feb 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
4.5 rounded down.
A sort of an American Anne of Green Gables, it even has a Marilla.

This book is based on the relationship between Sarah and her physician father. The main character Nan is a woman who feels called to serve others by not marrying but becoming a doctor instead. She has to overcome the confines of society at the time. The book has been listed as an example of the shift in perception of the role of women in society. It has a lot of philosophical elements and heavily Christian.
Mar 12, 2018 rated it it was ok
The charming pastoral setting holds up better than the thin story of a woman called by God to medicine.
Nov 20, 2008 rated it really liked it
This has some of the best things about nineteenth century New England literature--the strong sense of landscape/seascape and eloquent language. Jewett was writing about a woman who wanted to become a doctor (and back then, that meant would never get married) and therefore had to prove that this was just as "natural" as a woman wanting to tend to a household. Nan, the future doctor in question, actually does fall in love and have to choose between the two lives, and Jewett crafts her thought proc ...more
K.M. Weiland
Nov 22, 2015 rated it liked it
Slow and meandering: as expected. But it brims with Jewett’s classic ability to bring to life pastoral scenes. Her characters are charming with light touches of realism, and the overall message is passionately and logically worked out over the course of the story.
Dell Hilton
Jul 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Beautiful narrative prose, an artistic masterpiece in the written word.
Jun 17, 2018 rated it liked it
Not as good as The Country of the Pointed Firs but interesting. Looks at how a young girl makes a choice between being a wife or a doctor.
Larry Piper
Feb 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: classics
Somewhere, I read that Willa Cather had claimed that Sarah Orne Jewett had been influential in her own development as a writer. Given that old Willa had developed rather nicely—I've read ten Cather books now, and there's not a pig in the bunch—I considered taking a flier on Sarah. Then, I vaguely remembered her name from 11th grade English, and given that Miss Garner, my 11th-grade English teacher, was the first great love of my life, the decision to read Jewett became pretty much a no-brainer. ...more
Aug 06, 2017 rated it it was ok
Ok, so I have a couple of bones to pick about this book. Please bear with me.
First: This book should either have been longer or shorter. While the author is good, I felt that I did not really get to form my own opinion about Nan. The first half of the book, the reader spends very little time with Nan herself. Instead we are to rely on what others' perceptions of her are. We don't get to really see her for who she is until she goes to Dunport to meet her Aunt Nancy. There are 20 years of this w
Robin Tuthill
Jan 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I feel like the last person at the party - how have I never read anything by this important American novelist?! Thank goodness I discovered her now, anyway. I loved this book - I lived in the world of rural Maine in the late 1800s every minute of every day I read this book. I loved the setting as much as the internal struggle of the protagonist who is forced to choose between career and marriage because the culture at that time absolutely would now allow for both.
Andrea Dowd
Jun 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
Sometimes you want a classic that is feel good and filled with the rough beauty of a Maine coastal village. But with a feminist twist that isn't hijacked by the author feeling forced to send her character into marital bliss (blight).

"A Country Doctor" is a quick, sweet read!
Free download available at Project Gutenberg. ...more
Jul 27, 2020 rated it liked it
I began reading this novel around five years ago and was enraptured by the first three chapters: Jewett's three-dimensional characters come to life in carefully crafted dialogue between country neighbors. Brilliant foundation laying of exposition, small town ideals, and character attributes. But the chapters afterwards slow down drastically; there's a lot of "telling" instead of "showing," as entire chapters are devoted to relaying facts or reasons about a character (major and minor), and none o ...more
Scott Hammond
An interesting, well-written story about a young orphan girl raised in the home of a Maine country doctor and then following this path on her own, against societal propriety. It was written in 1870 and a product of the 19th century so the story was driven by internal dialogue and conflict rather than plot. Though I am not a fan of Jane Austen, this book reminded me of an American version of a Jane Austen novel. Nan must choose between her passion of medicine and marrying a man she does love, and ...more
Ruth Schrott
I liked this book but not as much as "The Country of the Pointed Firs". This is about the childhood and young adulthood of Nan who wants to become a doctor which was very much against the grain at the time. The author gave strong reasons why a young woman should have the same opportunities as a male to enter whatever profession she chose. Definitely an early "women's rights" book. There is an error in the description of this book. It says that Nan wanted to be a doctor like her father was. Nan n ...more
Apr 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: marriage
Pretty cool 1884 feminist novel, plus Jewett's luminous descriptions of plants/flowers/Maine landscapes. Nan isn't literature's most exciting character, but she does want to be a doctor, and defends that choice—and rejects marriage—via some earnest speeches about the nature of men and women. Ambition in women, says Jewett, is as natural as a flower, and shouldn't be pruned back. (To be sure, she also points out that some species of flowers are better off just getting married.) Favorite line: "Co ...more
Jul 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Lovely language and picture of a young woman's "call" to become a doctor, at a time when it is uncommon for women to do so. I'm surprised that I didn't lose patience with the ever-present question of the appropriateness of her desired vocation, instead of marriage. It was interesting to see the discussion played out in a very different time. For her it had to be a choice -- either marriage or a professional career. She couldn't be both. ...more
Marie French
Nov 02, 2018 rated it liked it
I loved the portrayal of Maine, but the book's tone started to become a little dull and like a list of things being said. I don't agree that for a woman to follow a career she can't also have a happy married family life. That Nan chose a career over ever getting married was fine and her choice, but it did not have to be only that way. ...more
tonia peckover
Aug 28, 2017 rated it liked it
Jewett's first novel, chronicling the life of a young woman who feels called to medicine instead of marriage. Largely autobiographical, I would imagine, as Jewett chose a writing career over a traditional path. Thoughtful and aware, it's a slow, comfortable read perfect for cozy days. ...more
May 02, 2018 rated it it was ok
I was disappointed in the writing which was very preachy and judgemental. The story of little Nan and her doctor (foster parent) could have been salvaged, I don't know the history behind this novel, but it seems very unlike her more polished pieces. ...more
Beautifully written but so...wordy. There were parts that felt long and rambling without purpose. I read a lot of “spinster literature” and the story was good but at times this felt preachy and over-explained.
Sep 09, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: book-club, 2019
Charming. It reminded me of Christy, and a little bit of L.M. Montgomery's writing. All of those books are about young women finding their way in the world and learning about who they are. They are also about small towns and the joy of certain places. ...more
Rachel Crain
Mar 02, 2021 rated it liked it
A classic of the victorian, turn-of-tide women's vocational advances. Well written with compassion, without feminism or rebuff. I enjoyed and found myself wondering about if I had been born during that time. Enjoyed and recommend. ...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.

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