Rediscover: The Country of the Pointed Firs
Sarah Orne Jewett (1849-1909) was born in the coastal town of South Berwick, Maine. This area and its surrounding fishing villages inspired many of her books, which are considered important works of American literary regionalism. Jewett published her first story at age 19 in the Atlantic Monthly. Her vignettes of New England country life coincided with a contemporary interest in local color. A Country Doctor (1884) is a novel based on Jewett's relationship with her doctor father, and follows a woman eschewing family life for a medical career. The Life of Nancy (1895) collects 11 short stories set in the Maine countryside and fishing towns, each story united by nostalgia and a need for tradition.
The Country of the Pointed Firs (1896) is Jewett's best-known work. A Boston woman travels to the seaside village of Dunnet, Maine, to finish her book. Jewett uses this narrator as a framing device to tell the stories of the town's inhabitants, from a widow herbalist to a sea captain and a woman who believes she is Queen Victoria's twin. The Country of the Pointed Firs is available from Signet with an introduction by author Anita Shreve ($6.95, 9780451531445). --Tobias Mutter