Friday, September 5, 2008

The Harvester

I will start with this warning: The Harvester is not the book to pick up when you are in a cynical mood. Nor when you are in the mood for a gritty novel. Nor when you are dissatisfied with your life in general, or your husband in particular. If you are looking for a book that will be mind expanding, this book would not be the one.

However, if you are looking for an escape, a perfect romance, a perfect man, an ideal, or a celebration of nature, The Harvester may be just the book.

I'm not sure I want to admit it right at this moment, but if I picked books solely for enjoyment factor I would have a huge stack of romances on my night stand. I read romance books (fairly innocent, such as Christian romance novels by Grace Livingston Hill and Janette Oke) one after another in middle school and into high school.

I have worked hard to stretch myself in my literary tastes, reading books not only for enjoyment factor , but for expanding my mind and enlarging my world. Gritty novels still rarely appeal to me. I continue to prefer novels with emotional closure.

When I choose love stories now, I try to read older novels (The Harvester was written in 1911), preferably with some redeeming value. E. P. Roe's From Jest to Earnest or George MacDonald's romances leave me feeling like I've come away from a theology course.

Gene Stratton-Porter's novels are often very idealistic and The Harvester is no exception. From the introduction by Mary E. Gaither:
The reasons for Porter's popularity are not hard to discover. In addition to the dedicated love for nature, her novels consistently present the themes of courage, strength of purpose, idealistic vision, successful battle against odds, and emphasis upon spiritual as opposed to material values.

So, if you are in the mood for a story that gives more than lip service to romance (truly one of the most romantic books I've read in a great while), and presents a world of nature and idealistic values, pick up The Harvester, and sit back and enjoy yourself.

pg 219

Now there are a number of things a man deeply in love can think of to do with a woman's white hand. He can stroke it, press it tenderly, and lay it against his lips of his heart. The Harvester lacked experience in these arts; yet by some wonderful instinct all of these things occurred to him.

pg 290

'You see,' said the Harvester, 'this is a question of ethics. Now what is a guest? A thing of a day! A person who disturbs your routine and interferes with important concerns. Why should any one be grateful for company? Why should time and money be lavished on visitors? They come. You overwork yourself. They go. You are glad of it. You return the visit, because it's the only way to get back at them; but why pamper them unnecessarily? Now a good housekeeper means more than words can express. Comfort, kindness, sanitary living, care in illness! Here's to the prospective housekeeper of Medicine Woods! Rogers, hand those ruffled embroidered curtains.

pg 292

'That's the bedrock of all the trouble on the earth,' interrupted the Harvester. 'We are a nation and a part of a world that spends our time on 'seeming.' Our whole outer crust is 'seeming.' When we get beneath the surface and strike the being, then we live as we are privileged by the Almighty. I don't think I give a tinker how anything seems. What concerns me is how it is. It doesn't 'seem' possible to you to hire a woman to come into your home to take charge of its cleanliness and the food you eat--the very foundation of life--and treat her as an honoured guest, and give her the best comfort you have to offer. The cold room, the old covers, the bare floor, and the cast off furniture are for her. No wonder, as a rule, she gives what she gets. She dignifies her labour in the same ratio that your do. Wait until we need a housekeeper, then gaze with awe on the one I shall raise to your hand.'

pg 396

'Poor girl,' said the Harvester. 'That bed should be softer.'

'It should not!' contradicted the Girl. 'It should be much harder. I'm tired of soft beds. I want to lie on the earth, with my head on a root; and I wish it would rain dirt on me. I am bathed threadbare. I want to be all streaky.'


Anonymous said...

Oh, thanks for this review. I'm in a real funk with my adult reading. This might just be the ticket to a few hours of pleasure.

I need something to tear me away from Anderson Copper. ;)

Unknown said...

I need a good book. I can't wait to read it. Thanks!

Doreen Frost said...

Sounds like a book I want to read.

Love the first paragraph of your :)

Take care,

Julia said...

Oh, your book tastes sound just like mine. :) I've always enjoyed a good "clean" romance! Janette Oke books are still some of my favorites, and I will always have a special place on my bookshelf for all of my L.M. Montgomery books--those never get old! I'll have to check out this one too. Thanks for the recommendation! I'm always up for new ones to add to my list.

chicago_mom said...

I love that last quote about the girl wanting dirt to rain on her. That cracked me up for some reason. I'll have to put this on hold at the library.

The WoodLand School said...

Have you read Porter's book Laddie? That's in my upcoming read-to-the-kids pile.