New York: Literary Classics of the United States, Inc. 1884 (1994). (2)
10-second review: Novel about a young girl who challenges the accepted 19th-century practice that every girl should be married and be a housewife. She wants to be a doctor. Takes place in rural Maine.
“In old times when the houses were draftier they was troublesome about flickering, candles was, but land! think how comfortable we live now to what we used to…. Stoves is such a convenience; the fire’s so much handier…. Housekeepin’ don’t begin to be the trial it was once.” p. 153. “ ………. Mrs. Jake Dyer: “It always kind of scares me these black nights. I expect something to clutch at me every minute, and I feel as if some sort of creatur’ was travelin’ right behind me when I out doors in the dark.” p. 155. ………. “The horse knew as well as his master that nothing of particular importance was in hand, and however well he always caught the spirit of the occasion when there was need for hurry, he now jogged along the road, going slowly where the trees cast a pleasant shade, and paying more attention to the flies than to anything else.” p. 184.
“There was a new unsheltered grave on the slope above the river, the farm house door was shut and locked, and the light was out in the kitchen window.” p. 198. ………. “It is nature that does it [cures] after all….” p. 217. ……… “But the young practitioners must follow the text-books a while until they have had enough experience to open their eyes to observe and have learned to think for themselves.” p. 217.
“I said to myself yesterday that a figure of me in wax would do just as well…. I get up and dress myself, and make the journey downstairs, and sit here at the window had have my dinner and go through the same round day after day.” p. 231. ………. “The poor old captain waiting to be released [by death], stranded on the inhospitable shore of this world, and eager Nan, who was sorrowfully longing for the world’s war to begin.” p. 257. ………. “…it is a long hill to try to study medicine or to study something else; and if you are going to fear obstacles you have a poor chance of success.” p. 261.
“The doctor told Nan many curious things as they drove about together: certain traits of certain families, had how the Dyers were of strong constitution, and lived to a great age in spite of severe illnesses and accidents and all manner of unfavorable conditions, while the Dunnells, who looked a great deal stronger, were sensitive and deficient in vitality, in that an apparently slight attack of disease quickly proved fatal.” p. 266.
“I was amazed to find that there is a story going about town that your niece here is studying to be a doctor.” p. 325. ………. Nan: “I know I haven’t had the experience that you have, Mrs. Fraley, but I can’t help believing that nothing is better than to find one’s work early and hold fast to it, and put all one’s heart into it.” p. 326. ………. Nan: “It certainly can’t be the proper vocation of all women to bring up children, so many of them are dead failures at it; and I don’t see why all girls should be thought failures who do not marry.” ………. Nan: “Of course I know being married isn’t a trade: It is a natural condition of life, which permits a man to follow certain public careers and forbids them to a woman.” p. 329.
Nan to George Gerry: “I will always be your friend, but if I married you I might seem by and by to be your enemy.” p. 354. ………. Nan: “But something tells me all the time that I could not marry the whole of myself as most women can; there is a great share of my life which could not have its way, and could only hide itself and be sorry.” p. 355. ………. “…and suddenly she reached her hands upward in an ecstasy of life and strength and gladness: ‘O God, I thank thee for my future.’ ”
Comment: One of my favorite novels and one of my favorite novelists. Sarah Orne Jewett is a national treasure. RayS.