Reading on a Sunday is a luxury for me. It's not a terribly over-scheduled day for my family, but having the kids around and keeping them entertained usually means little down time for me. Today, however, everyone slept in. Miracle! So I had some time to read in bed in the morning. Unheard of!
I picked up my copy of Sarah Orne Jewett's The Country of the Pointed Firs, and read for an uninterrupted half hour. Bliss!
I had heard of Jewett but had never read her. What pushed me to finally read her was her inclusion in the list of "outmoded" authors for the Outmoded Authors challenge. Then I read Stefanie's review of The Country of the Pointed Firs for this challenge, and I remember her saying that the characters in the book were people she liked, and felt as if she knew.
This is true for me, too. I've spent the last few evenings and this morning reading The Country of the Pointed Firs, and getting to know the quirky characters who populate a small coastal Maine town a hundred or more years ago. The stories are all about character. They are really more like sketches than stories; not plot-driven, but beautifully evoked scenes of people's lives. I read a little about Jewett on the internet, and saw that she had been criticized for failing to provide driving plots in her work. I don't mind that at all, if I know that's what I'm in for.
I also read about Jewett that she had grown up in a house full of books, and she was "virtually fed on words." How wonderful!
Jewett also writes beautifully about nature and the landscape. The town and the countryside around it are as much characters in the stories as the people who live there. I particularly love Jewett's portrayal of the main character's landlady, an herbalist who grows and gathers herbs and makes the various syrups and elixirs that the townspeople use as tonics and medicines.
I'm happy to have had a few moments today to read this book, with its gentle humor and quiet pace.