cover image Best Stories of Sarah Orne Jewett

Best Stories of Sarah Orne Jewett

Sarah Orne Jewett. L. Tapley, $10.95 (282pp) ISBN 978-0-912769-33-2

There is ``no shilly-shallying,'' as the author might put it, in this collection by Jewett (1849-1909), the admired New England writer who advised Willa Cather, ``Write it as it is, don't try to make it like this or that. You can't do it in anybody else's wayyou will have to make a way of your own.'' Jewett's way, radiantly evident in these 17 stories, is to observe the verities of New England country life in implicit contrast to an encroaching industrial society. Never the sentimentalist, Jewett also exposes, but gently, the conceits and complacencies of provincial existence, as when elderly sisters in a Maine village whose ``mother's social position was one of superior altitude'' adorn themselves with foolish new hairpieces in ``The Dulham Ladies.'' Her evocation of the natural world is superbly sensitive; equally impressive is her nose for human detail. Jewett was a master whose work (three novels and several collections of stories) Cather rightly called ``almost flawless.'' Illustrations not seen by PW. (Feb.)