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“...the recluses are a sad kindred...”

"There is something in the fact of a hermitage that cannot fail to touch the imagination; the recluses are a sad kindred, but they are never commonplace." - Sarah Orne Jewett, The Country of the Pointed Firs

Jewett's narrator refers to the sad story of Joanna Todd, who was so distraught and guilt-stricken after being abandoned by her fiancee that she hermited herself on a desolate, rocky island off the Maine coast for the rest of her life. The narrator visits the island decades after Joanna's death, hoping to get even the slightest glimpse of Joanna's former life there. Though there's little of that to be seen, I wish Jewett had continued the story for at least a few more pages.

I'm really, really enjoying the book - thanks to Paul for the recommendation. According to the promo copy, no less of an authority than Willa Cather believed that this book, The Scarlet Letter and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn were "the three American works most likely to achieve permanent recognition." Clearly, history has not been as generous to Jewett as it has been to Hawthorne and Twain, possibly due to her great book not being mandatory reading in high schools anywhere, other than perhaps in the state of Maine.

May 8, 2018 in Books | Permalink

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