Friday, January 23, 2009


Fidelity by Wendell Berry is a collection of five short stories about Port William characters. While I enjoyed all of the stories, two really stood out as my favorites.

"A Jonquil for Mary Penn" introduces Elton and Mary Penn, married at the ages of 17 and 18 and living in "...a world of poverty and community." The entire story is just a few hours in one morning of Mary's life, but so much is described about the young couple's life together and paragraphs like this one stick with me:

"Now she thought of herself as belonging there, not just because of her marriage to Elton but also because of the economy that the two of them had made around themselves and with their neighbors. She had learned to think of herself as living and working at the center of a wonderful provisioning: the kitchen and garden, hog pen and smokehouse, henhouse and cellar of her own household; the little commerce of giving and taking that spoked out along the paths connecting her household to the others; Port William on its ridgetop in one direction, Goforth in its valley in the other, and all this at the heart of the weather and the world."

"Fidelity" was my other favorite. It tells the end of Burley Coulter's life. In his death, as in his life, Burley manages to bring humor and be a part of the countryside that he loves.



Blogger magistramater said...


I read these stories as part of That Distant Land (the complete collection of Wendell Berry's short stories) and The Jonquil and Fidelity were among my top three favorites.

I love the phrase (not exact quote) that Mary lived in Elton's love as in a large house.

My friend had read the book before I had and kept asking me, "have you read Fidelity yet?" It's a story that stays with you a long, long time.


1:54 PM  

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