Good morning Salonsters and other visitors. It's rainy and very green here in Portland this morning; what's it like in your part of the world?
I needed a little break from genocide (Half of a Yellow Sun) and the end of humanity (The World Without Us), so from the bookshelf I chose a beautifully illustrated edition of Sarah Orne Jewett's novella, The Country of the Pointed Firs.
I was first introduced to Jewett's writing in college - "Miss Tempy's Watchers," a short story about members of the community sitting vigil with Miss Tempy's recently deceased body, as was the custom. I remember such gentleness and respect in the story, and I've wanted to read more of her work ever since.
Sarah Orne Jewett was a contemporary of Mark Twain, Willa Cather and Harriet Beecher Stowe. She lived in Maine and set most of her stories there, detailing the characters and customs unique to New England seaport towns. She started writing at an early age and was first published before the age of 20. She wrote poetry and children's stories and published a number of short stories. The Country of the Pointed Firs is arguably her best published work.
It's a quiet little novella told from the point of view of a visitor to the village of Dunnet Landing, Maine. Large scale shipping is changing the culture of the region, as Captain Littlepage laments:
...a community narrows down and grows dreadful ignorant when it is shut up to its own affairs, and gets no knowledge of the outside world except from a cheap, unprincipled newspaper. In the old days, a good part o' the best men here knew a hundred ports and something of the way folks lived in them. They saw the world for themselves, and like's not their wives and children saw it with them. They may not have had the best of knowledge to carry with 'em sight-seein', but they were some acquainted with foreign lands and their laws, an' could see outside the battle for town clerk here in Dunnet; they got some sense o' proportion. Shipping's a terrible loss to this part o' New England from a social point o' view, ma'am.
I hadn't realized that the families of whalers and fishermen often accompanied them on their journeys. As our narrator is becoming acquainted with Mrs. Fosdick, she says,
I soon discovered that she, like many of the elder women of that coast, had spent a part of her life at sea, and was full of a good traveler's curiosity and enlightenment.
I'll finish up this lovely story this morning and get back to Biafra this evening.
Those of you curious about my ability to stay away from the rest of Unaccustomed Earth, I was successful. However, I didn't make much progress with my Early Review books. I've been anxiously waiting to read Half of a Yellow Sun for more than a year; even though it's a difficult read because of the subject matter (civil war and genocide in Nigeria/Biafra) it is a stunning book and I got engrossed in it right away. I still have most of Lahiri's book to look forward to, and that's not a bad thing.
I'm having carpal tunnel surgery on BOTH hands Wednesday, so I don't know if I'll make a Sunday Salon appearance next week. I may not be able to keyboard for awhile. I will, however, be able to read. A LOT since I'll be taking some time off work to recuperate; and I won't be able to drive or do much in the way of house chores or gardening. So I'm lining up some books from the TBR pile.
Enjoy your week!