Monday, August 29, 2016

Sarah Orne Jewett: September Song

Sarah Orne Jewett
The Country of  Pointed Firs

The conclusion to the novel--the end of the vacation.  It is time to return home and face the "real world."

The Backward View

"At last it was the time of late summer, when the house was cool and damp in the morning, and all the light seemed to come through green leaves; but at the first step out of doors the sunshine always laid a warm hand on my shoulder, and the clear, high sky seemed to lift quickly as I looked at it.  Thee was no autumnal mist on the coast, nor any August fog; instead of these, the sea, the sky, all the long shore line and the inland hills, with every bush of bay and every fir-top, gained a deeper color and a sharper clearness.  There was something shining in the air, and a kind of lustre on the water and the pasture grass, -- a northern look that, except at this moment of the year, one must go far to seek.  The sunshine of a northern summer was coming to its lovely end.

The days were few then at Dunnet Landing, and I let each of them slip away unwillingly as a miser spends his coins.  I wished to have one of my first weeks back again, with those long hours when nothing happened except the growth of herbs and the course of the sun.  Once I had not even known where to go for a walk; now there were many delightful things to be done and done again, as if I were in London.  I felt hurried and full of pleasant engagements, and the days flew by like a handful of flowers flung to the sea wind.

At last I had to say good-by to all my Dunnet Landing friends, and my homelike place in the little house, and return to the world in which I feared to find myself a foreigner.  There may be restrictions to such a summer's happiness, but the ease that belongs to simplicity is charming enough to make up for whatever a simple life may lack, and the gifts of peace are not for those who live in the thick of battle."

-- Sarah Orne Jewett --
from The Country of the Pointed Firs

If you haven't read Sarah Orne Jewett's The Country of Pointed Firs yet, you really should.  You don't know what you are missing.  It was as if I too were leaving and returning to the everyday world.    


  1. i don't know how i've managed to not read this, but i'll have to remedy that directly; stunningly good excerpt; thanks...

    1. Mudpuddle,

      I wonder the same thing about me as I just read it last year, after putting it off for many years. It's now on my "must reread" list.

      And, thanks for the kind words.

  2. The narrator is the perfect point-of-view character. We are there visiting with her. So well done.

    I only read this myself a couple of years ago.

    1. Amateur Reader,

      Yes, the narrator is very transparent, for the book is mostly about the village and the people and less about her.

  3. I read and enjoyed it years ago. More recently I read A Country Doctor which had a few surprises in it. Available at Project Gutenberg.

    1. madamevauquer,

      I just read A Country Doctor for an online group at and yes, there were a few surprises. It wasn't quite what I expected.

  4. Fred, SOJ has been on my TBR list for so-o-o-o long, and I am ashamed that I have been procrastinating. Well, as summer is ending, and as your posting is such a magical catalyst, perhaps SOJ will move to the head-of-the-line before Labor Day.

    I wonder what it is about some of the "must read" classics that we seem to overlook for too long. I have a too simple theory: we know all about the "hype" but remain wary of being disappointed, so we simply procrastinate.

    1. R.T.,

      I think it's partially that--wary of the hype that may surround a particular work. It may also be partially that in the past, the description of the work didn't strike me as something I would enjoy. It takes a while for me to move out of my comfort zone.

      My experience with SOJ has now made me wonder if perhaps I should take another look at some works and authors that hadn't looked interesting in the past.

      Anthony Powell is another one whom I just recently read and now he's on my search list.

    2. i've felt tempted by
      a dance to the music of time for quite a while... what do you think about Powell's writing? i've got a picture of him at the wheel of a very old british sports car that i cut out of a magazine hanging up in the book room; he looks very content and intelligent...

    3. Mudpuddle,

      Rather than rattle on here, either check the Labels list at the right for my posts on A Dance to the Music of Time, or try the address below.

      A Dance is on my reread list.

    4. tx; i should have spotted that...

    5. Mudpuddle,

      Let me know if you have any questions.