'... an' I couldn't help thinkin' if she was as far out o' town as she was out o' tune, she wouldn't get back in a day.'
At just 88 pages this book can be read over a weekend or even in one sitting. It's not really a plot-driven novel, more a series of portraits of New Englanders living on the Maine coast. Our unnamed narrator visits her friend, Mrs Todd, the local herbalist, and stays for the summer meeting neighbours, acquaintances and relatives.
My favourite chapter is Poor Joanna. Joanna, a resident of the town of Dunnet, is jilted one month before her wedding. Unable to bear the humiliation she asks her brother to row her and her belongings over to the deserted Shell-heap Island, eight miles from the coast, where she makes her home never setting foot on the mainland again. During cold winters, the kind-hearted New Englanders row over with parcels of food and clothing.
This is a beautifully written portrait of a lost way of life which curiously, at times, reminded me of Elizabeth Gaskell's Cranford.