Sunday, February 24, 2008

Sunday Salon--a few moments with Sarah Orne Jewett

The Sunday Salon.com

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.

19 comments:

Literary Feline said...

What a nice treat! To have time to read in bed.

I usually rise long before my husband in the morning and I never think to stay in bed and read . . . I should give it a try. As long as it's daylight outside, I doubt I'd disturb him. Of course, the animals might have other ideas.

The Country of the Pointed Firs sounds like a wonderful book--perfect for a quiet Sunday reading.

Gentle Reader said...

literary feline--I usually don't stay in bed to read in the morning, either, but it was such a nice change of pace!

Eva said...

I'm planning on reading this this week, so I'm glad you liked it! I love to read in the mornings, before anyone else is awake, but I prefer my favourite couch to my bed. My bedroom doesn't get any natural light, whereas the living room has great picture windows so I get to watch the sunrise and read. Plus, the kitchen's closer for when I need more tea!

litlove said...

This sounds delightful - and I mean the combination of reading in bed and having such a good book to hand! I really must read this myself, and all I can say is hang on in there - it won't be long before the children give you enough peace to get a whole couple of hours together with a book! (I remember how very lovely the realisation was that I could take a little time for myself).

melanie said...

I have had that book kicking around for a while in my stacks. Glad to hear more about it and the author.

verbivore said...

This book has been on my radar for quite some time now. Reading your review makes me think it would be something I would enjoy. I really should find a copy and see what I think.

Gentle Reader said...

eva--actually, I have a better spot to read in my house than bed, but unless everyone's asleep, I almost never get a chance to read there uninterrupted! And it's closer to my kitchen, too--very important!

litlove--looking forward to the day when the children give me enough peace to read. At least my eldest loves to read, and we can do that simultaneously, side by side! Now when the little one gets to that stage, I'll be thrilled!

melanie--I kept hearing about this book from book bloggers, so it moved up my list more quickly than some. So far, so good, I'm liking it :)

verbivore--It's a lovely, slow-paced book, and I'm enjoying it so far. And as a bonus, I mooched it from BookMooch, so it was free :)

Lisa said...

This sounds really good. I too love character-driven stories. I also like vivid settings. It sounds like Jewett provides both in this work. It sounds very much like Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout in that it is a series of stories, which are character-driven. I highly recommend it.

Gentle Reader said...

lisa--I think I'll have to add the Elizabeth Strout book to my list--I keep hearing good things. Thanks!

Bybee said...

Reading in bed! Great book, too. Sounds like a successful Sunday!

jenclair said...

I joined the Short Story Challenge and have not read a single short story! I did read a couple of Sarah Orne Jewett's short stories years ago and remember liking them very much.

Matt said...

I like to start my Sunday morning early, go to my favorite coffee shop and read over the cup of joe. It's usually empty until around 9ish. Plenty of time to read and reflect.

Gentle Reader said...

bybee--it was a great Sunday!

jenclair--when I join a challenge lately, it's almost certain I won't do the reading! I think I've been subconsciously perverse, not wanting to feel I HAVE to read anything!

matt--that sounds like a lovely start to any Sunday!

Bookfool said...

I ordered this book after we returned from a vacation in Maine, but I haven't gotten to it, yet. So glad to hear you enjoyed it.

Quiet time on a weekend! How cool!

Gentle Reader said...

bookfool--I can see why a Maine vacation would make you want to read this! It was nice having a little quiet time last weekend--the memory is carrying me through this busy week!

Wendy said...

I ADORED this book...so glad you are enjoying it too! My review of it is posted here.

Gentle Reader said...

wendy--thanks for the link--great review! I'm loving the book, too. I love her sense of humor, and her gift for description!

Paul said...

Iread when I have some spare time-like in the bathroom! LOL

Gentle Reader said...

paul--LOL, sad to say, with three young children, I'm lucky if I'm ever in the bathroom alone, much less have time to read there. Yikes!