Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Tuesdays Tomes: Deephaven by Sarah Orne Jewett

Tuesdays Tomes is a weekly book review of vintage books available free on-line.

Deephaven by Sarah Orne Jewett

With her parents planning a summer tour of Europe, Kate Lancaster decides to spend the summer at her late aunt’s home in Deephaven, Maine. She invites her friend and our narrator, Helen Denis, to join her.

These two Boston girls are intrigued by the village which has seen better days. Once a prosperous ship building center today is at most a sleepy fishing village though there are still the remnants of the best families-including Kate’s late aunt, Katherine Brandon and by extension Kate herself.

More a collection of short stories than a novel, these slow moving descriptive tales give a sketch of life in a small village and the people living there. There are no adventures, no men come and save the girls from danger…nothing happens but the passing of the summer-important for some, unimportant for others and tragic for one family.

I can’t really say I enjoyed this book…the slow pace does create a dream like quality. I peeked at a couple of review of this book because I had heard of Sarah Orne Jewett and I was curious what other reviewers thought of this book…well, all I can say is that they read much more into these tales than I did. One reviewer states, “Sarah Orne Jewett presents two American identities in the hope that they could explain each to the other.” I’m not sure if this reviewer meant Kate and Helen or the city vs. the village. Another reviewer writes:

“…closer scrutiny of these descriptions indicates that more than rendering a region they reveal the inchoate concerns of the young women themselves: in that respect the narrative can be better understood as psychological realism in which the women's literal and symbolic (written) ventures into unfamiliar regions allegorize revelatory journeys into the self.1

At the very outset Jewett suggests that the women's writing and, by extension, her own, will involve psychological revelations. Taking up residence in the ancestral house, the two find writing desks with "secret drawers":

I have to say that I saw none of this-no revelatory journeys into themselves other than that while they loved their summer they couldn’t see themselves giving up their busy and very social lives in Boston.

Read by the always pleasant to listen to Betsey Bush, you can download this free audio-book here or the free e-book in pdf. or Kindle format here.


Jan said...

Thanks for continuing to share these books with us. I don't know how you find them!

Cookie’s Mom said...

Great find! Thanks for sharing it. Hopping over from the Story Tine Under the Stars book blog hop!