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The Country of the Pointed Firs by Sarah Orne Jewett

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Reviewed by Nancy Young

Sarah Orne Jewett's The Country of the Pointed Firs is spellbinding notwithstanding the fact that it is the gentlest of novels. Its plot is hardly discernible, and yet it is almost as difficult to put down as a whodunit.

Jewett captures with enrapturing detail the book's warm and humane characters in a first-person narrative that relates the story of small town, coastal Maine with its beauty, grace, and eccentricities intact. As we see through the narrator's keen eye and feel with her sensitive soul, we make steadfast friends and encounter quiet people of remarkable strength.

Almira Todd, her mother, Mrs. Black, and brother, William are the centerpiece of the novel, but it is as fully and completely peopled as any novel painted on a more sweeping canvas. Stories of love, adventure, loneliness, and heartache all tumble forth from the simplest of settings. In the end, I was as sorry to leave Dunnet Landing as the story's city-dwelling narrator. I felt I had made friends as dear and had had experiences as rich and mystical as her's. And then I was especially thrilled to discover there were additional tales from Dunnet Landing and I could re-visit again and again.

The respect for and interest in Sarah Orne Jewett's work has enjoyed recent resurgence, and deservedly so. The Country of the Pointed Firs is as remarkable a contribution to American literature as virtually any I can think of.

The Country of the Pointed Firs by Sarah Orne Jewett is featured in Vol 4 No 3 of The Storybook Home Journal.

Tags: Vol. 4 No. 3, 2010, Book reviews

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