The Harvester
By Gene Stratton-Porter

Book review by Jaye
Copyright © 2005 by Jaye

          The Harvester opens on the first night of spring, when each year David Langston asks his faithful dog, Belshazzar, to show him whether he shall stay in the woods, harvesting its herbal bounty for the doctors of the world, and whether he shall remain single or go a-courting. This year, for the first time, Bel responds excitedly when David asks the courting question, and David, bewildered and consternated at this unprecedented behaviour, kicks his dog for the first and only time in his life.

          But he is a man of his word, and he sets out immediately to prepare himself and his home for a wife. A simple but clever soul, he carves, hews, builds, and improves his cabin into a charming home for the most discerning woman, but the woman never shows up -- until one day he rushes a shipment of life-saving medicine in to the train for a doctor in a distant town.

          And when she steps off the train, he sees she is sick! Sick and worn and poor.

          And when he stoops to rescue a crate, she vanishes.

          The rest of the book deals with David finding, courting and winning the girl -- and a harrowing time it is.

          The book was written a hundred years ago, and it is a time machine into a world long gone, a world that we might not want to live in, but oh, I would love to visit it once in a while. Ms. Porter evokes the woods in such splendour and warmth that you see and smell and hear them as though you were there. You can touch the moth candlesticks David makes for his Dream Girl, and hear Singing Water sing. You see Ruth crying beside her ginseng bed.

          David is loosely based on Henry David Thoreau, and the book is dedicated to him.

          If you can find a copy of it -- it is relatively rare -- read it. It is full of quaint characters, quaint ideas, and quaint spellings, but the story is well drawn (if a bit syrupy by today's standards). You can't go wrong.

          Blessings on you and on your House.

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