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Sarah Orne Jewett’s place in American letters was assured when this acclaimed collection of stories about her native state of Maine was first published in 1896. Her crisp style and skillful observation of people and places gives her work lasting appeal.
The Country of the Pointed Firs tells a story spanning three months’ time in the life of a small coastal town called Dunnet Landing in nineteenth-century Maine. A lone female visitor arrives and finds lodging with the widowed Mrs. Todd, the town’s herbalist, who introduces the visitor to many of the town’s inhabitants. The visitor’s impressions of the people she meets start out simply, and then almost invisibly they crescendo into a deep, intense human portrait.
“If I were to name the three American books which have the possiblity 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. The latter book seems to me fairly to shine with the reflection of its long, joyous future. It is so tightly, yet so lightly built, so little encumbered with heavy materialism that deteriorates and grows old-fashioned. I like to think with pleasure with what a sense of rich discovery the young student of Amerian literature in far distant years to come will take this book up and say, ‘A masterpiece!’ as proudly as if he himself had made it.” —From the Preface by Willa Cather