The Country Of The Pointed Firs

“There was something about the coast town of Dunnet which made it seem more attractive than other maritime villages of Eastern Maine.

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The Country Of The Pointed Firs

“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, and gave such interest to the rocky shore and dark woods, and the few houses which seemed to be securely wedged and tree-nailed in among the ledges by the Landing. These houses made the most of their seaward view, and there was a gaiety and determined floweriness in their bits of garden ground; the small-paned high windows in the peaks of their steep gables were like knowing eyes that watched the harbour and the far sea-line beyond, or looked northward all along the shore and its background of spruces and balsam firs. When one really knows a village like this and its surroundings, it is like becoming acquainted with a single person. The process of falling in love at first sight is as final as it is swift in such a case, but the growth of true friendship may be a life-long affair.”

From this opening paragraph, though a July to October progression of herb gatherings and funerals, family picnics, and the telling of stories and the occasional tall tale, to the too-sudden departure from Dunnet of its narrator, The Country of the Pointed Firs is a wonderful book for leisurely reading.

(The Country Of The Pointed Firs continues below the photo of the author, Sarah Orne Jewett.)

S O Jewett

The author, Sarah Orne Jewett, who was born in 1849 and died in 1909, published this brief novel in 1896. She is described, in the 1991 edition of the Encyclopedia Americana, as “part of the local-color movement of the late 19th century. Her theme was the New England character seen from its most attractive side.” I believe that this description is an example of damning with faint praise, as if to live in one place for more than five or ten years is the end of expression and judgement. Ms. Jewett was born in and spent most of her life in South Berwick in the state of Maine. She is part of the long tradition of American storytellers who lived in and wrote about the New England region: Hawthorne and Melville, Thoreau, Poe, Lovecraft, Robert Frost, and Stephen King.

In this short novel, the citizens of the isolated community of Dunnet are great talkers. Almost a tale of tales, The Country of the Pointed Firs contains a well-told and heart-warming ghost story and an adventure reminiscent of Edgar Allan Poe.

(The Country Of The Pointed Firs continues below the ad for A Life Full Of Books.)

Life Full Of Books

The novel is set in the almost self-sufficient economy of much of rural North America in the late nineteenth century. Mrs. Todd is an herbalist and the largest presence in the novel. Many of her conversations reveal the history of Dunnet and its people.

I suspect that readers will laugh and cry and be delighted by The Country of the Pointed Firs.

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